Les Crêtes – Valle d’Aosta, Italy
The Charrere family first arrived in the Aosta valley from France in the 1700s. Nestled against Italy’s border with France and Switzerland and situated high in the Alps, Valle d’Aosta is, at about 1,260 square miles, Italy’s smallest and least densely populated region. The valley runs on the flanks of the Dora Baltea river southeast from Europe’s highest peak, the Mont Blanc, down to the border with Piemonte.
Current proprietor Constantino, his wife Imelda and their two daughters Elena & Eleonora champion the values of his father, Antoine, his grandfather, Etienne, and the generations before who first planted vineyards here in 1810. Close attention is paid to the environment, cultivation techniques, specialized research & experimentation and their interaction with surrounding habitats. Constantino is one of Italy’s leading forces in protecting and innovating regional varieties. The current quality of wine from Alpine varieties such as their prized Fumin and Petite Rouge for reds and Petite Arvine & Prie Blanc for whites owe much to the energy and ability of the estate. The wines from more widely recognisable varieties – Chardonnay, Nebbiolo (locally grown as Picotener) & Pinot Gris to name but a few – number amongst the region and Italy’s best examples. The winery & cellar are based in Aymavilles and vines range at altitudes of 600 to 1000 metres. At around 24 hectares under vine in six villages, Les Crêtes (translates as ‘the crests’ or ‘the peaks’) are the most prominent company in a valley where 67% of growers have 0.2 ha or less of vines. Total production is around 10,000 cases only.