2020 Didier Gerbelle 'Jeux de Cepages'
To many students of Italian wine, Valle d’Aosta is the final frontier. Italy’s smallest region is also its smallest producer of wine, and what you can find is limited in quantity. There is no comparison or easy reference point to the wines of Valle d’Aosta. They are in a class by themselves. Much of this has to do with extreme geographic isolation. Some vineyards are so high in altitude that phylloxera said “forget it, you’re not worth the trouble,” a fact that spared Valle d’Aosta’s grape diversity. Small family farms — and the lack of a powerful, Cavit-like co-op with eyes on the international market — have further helped to preserve this unique viticultural ecosystem.
From my explorations of the region, this small family estate stands out. Didier Gerbelle represents an exciting potential future for Valle d’Aosta wine. His winery wasn’t established until 2006, but he is a fourth generation winegrower whose natural habitat seems to be the alpine vineyard. At a very young age he tagged along with his grandfather in the vines, then attended oenology school in Alba. Today, he is on a mission to make pure varietal expressions of his home region’s grapes.
If Valle d’Aosta’s unique wine industry can foster more young talents and visionaries like Gerbelle, we’ll be talking more and more about in the ensuing years.