Vuillermin Grape

Ark of taste
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Vuillermin – also formerly known as Eperon or Spron – is a rare local grape variety from Valle d’Aosta in northwestern Italy, a region with a strong history of viticulture focused on local varieties. Vuillermin grows along the banks of the Dora Baltea river in the municipalities of Chambave and Chatillon. Vines of this variety have medium-large leaves and medium-small pyramid-shaped clusters of grapes. The grapes themselves are medium-small and spherical with a thick, opaque blue skin. The garnet-red wine made from these grapes is aged in barrels and has a complex bouquet with notes of cinchona, bergamot, and ripe fruit.

The local climate is characterized by dry winters and warm summers. Temperatures vary greatly not only from season to season, but also throughout the day: in summer, mornings are cool, afternoons are hot, and nights are cold. The large diurnal temperature range helps enrich the grapes’ aromas. The most typical vine training system for Vuillermin is Guyot, which works well in dry areas where the plants are kept small. This variety is grown in terraced vineyards at elevations up to 700 meters above sea level. The grapes are harvested during the second half of September and taken to cellars for destemming and then crushed to release the juice. The juice is macerated with the grape skins and seeds at cool temperatures for a period before being separated from the solids and fermented (pre-fermentation maceration is a popular technique in the Aosta Valley). Once fermentation is complete, the wine is rested in wooden barrels and stainless-steel vats before being bottled. Vuillermin is excellent for pairing with meat, such as lepre (hare) in civet; or with cheeses like as toma al ginepro (toma with juniper).

In the past, Vuillermin was not well known outside of Valle d’Aosta—indeed, it was on the verge of extinction by the end of the 20th century, when researchers from the Institut Agricole Régional di Aosta (Aosta regional agricultural institute) began working with local producers to bring it back into cultivation. Today, only a few producers grow it, and pure Vuillermin wines are difficult to make well due to the variety’s high tannin levels. Nevertheless, it is considered a fine wine and there it a trend toward making monovarietal Vuillermin to showcase its qualities.

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Aosta Valley

Production area:Chambave and Chatillon towns

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Wines and grape varietals

Nominated by:Jennyfer Lale Murix