Wine is frequently an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. You may find yourself drinking an Italian wine with a French label, wondering if you somehow screwed up your wine selection for Italian Food, Wine & Travel this month.  The Valle d’Aosta region of Italy turns out to be a wine puzzle. Valle d’Aosta is located on the Northern Italian border, caressing both France and Switzerland, colliding with Germany and merging with Slovenia. Well-known grapes such as pinot noir, nebbiolo, and gamay are grown there as well as some rarely seen varietals such as fumin, cornalin, petit rouge and prié. Let’s just say it’s a complicated region with a bit of an identity crisis and a language that could be best described as Italian-French. It is as common to see the French spelling Vallée d’Aoste on a label of wines from this Italian region as it is to find the Italian version Valle d’Aosta.

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Fonduta aka Fondue

Valle d’Aosta is well known for Fontina Cheese and Fonduta (aka fondue). Fonduta is often served with toasted bread, or vegetables as the main entrée. Pretty genius if you ask me to make an entire meal of melted cheese sauce, bread and wine. I found Valle d’Aosta Fontina Cheese at Bristol Farms and decided to break out the fondue pot for Fonduta. The preparation is simple: soak diced fontina cheese in milk for 3 hours to overnight and basically melt in a double boiler. To make the cheese sauce rich and slightly decadent, egg yolks and milk are added. Should you desire to make this super luxurious, white truffle shavings are recommended. Sous Chef and I agreed that Fonduta is creamy, luscious, cheesiness at its best but are quite uncertain that we could make it an entrée due to the rich flavors. It would make a lovely conversation starter to a dinner party, or great part of a grazing meal – antipasto, olives, prosciutto.

Don’t let the French Label fool you – this wine is from Italy Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle from Vallee D’Aoste

One cannot have cheese or Fonduta without wine, and being no slacker in the wine department we had two wines from the region on hand. The Vin Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle was purchased at K&L Wine Merchants. They recommended pairing it with cheese or a light pasta. They raved about the region and suggested that I must try a rosso (red) from Valle d’Aosta if I could find one. That sounded like a challenge to me, so after a little internet searching I found one at Sussex Wine in New York and ordered two bottles of the 2012 Grosjean Frères Cornalin Vigne Rovettaz. The white wine was lively and floral, but not enough to keep up with the richness of the Fonduta. The Grosjean Frères Cornalin was another story. This wine is 100% Cornalin grape. It was a little bit offbeat and funky with a nice body and hints of exotic spices and tobacco. The tannins are soft and pleasant and the wine has low acidity. This wine paired exceptionally with the rich Fonduta, and was quite easy to sip on its own. I can’t wait to try this wine with other pairings.

2012 Grosjean Vallee D’Aoste – a must try wine if you can find it!

Make sure to you visit the rest of the Italian Food, Wine and Travel posts for more Valle d’Aosta experiences:

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A taste of Vallee D’ Aoste aka Valle D’Aosta

Valle d’Aosta Fonduta
 
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer, entree
Cuisine: Italian Alps
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
  • 12 -16 ounces fontina cheese, rind removed and diced
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 loaf of country style Italian white bread, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • white truffles (optional)

Instructions
  1. Soak the fontina cheese in the milk for a minimum of three hours or overnight. Separate cheese from milk and reserve milk. Place cheese in top portion of the double boiler and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Toast chunks of bread about 12 minutes turning one time.
  3. Place water in bottom portion of double boiler and bring to a rolling boil. Add the top portion of the double boiler with the cheese to the double boiler. Add butter to the cheese and continually whisk until cheese is melted about 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat.
  4. Add each egg yolk separately and whisk continually to mix until each yolk is incorporated. Gradually add reserved milk to thin out mixture. You may not need to add all the milk. Season with white pepper and sea salt.
  5. Pour mixture into fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with Vegetables, toasted bread.