Only 6,000 Cases Produced Each year
Founded in the second half of the 1970s, La Kiuva (lah kee-OO-vah) is a cooperative winery with 50 grower members located in the heart of the Aosta Valley. The word Kiuva is local dialect for a “sheaf of leaves” typically gathered in the fall to feed livestock. It’s also a play on the Italian chi uva meaning literally “who grape.”
With some of the highest-lying vineyards in the world, the growers of La Kiuva are devoted to the cultivation of distinctive grape varieties like the local clone of Nebbiolo known as Picotendro. Bordered by France to the west and Switzerland to the north, the Aosta Valley is renowned for its ability to deliver fresh but highly complex wines thanks to the region’s combination of altitude, diluvial subsoils, alpine air currents, and extremely steep terraced pergola-trained vineyards.
With roughly 15 hectares planted to vine, La Kiuva’s growers do all their vineyard work by hand. Not by choice but a necessity: The vineyard slopes are so steep that they are not accessible to tractors. A favourite among wine critics, La Kiuva is known for the freshness and wonderful drinkability of its alpine wines.
The Valle d’Aosta
The Valle d’Aosta is about as extreme as Italian winemaking gets. Wedged in Alpine northwestern Italy between Switzerland and France, the valley lies in the shadows of some of Europe’s tallest peaks: ice-capped Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. It is Italy’s smallest appellation, with a mere 750 acres of vineyards, and the highest, with vines climbing lower mountainsides to 4,000 feet in altitude.
Though winemaking thrived here for centuries, it is only in the past decade where wines from Valle d’Aosta really shined. Valle d’Aosta is the dwarf, size-wise, among Italy’s 20 regions, but it’s a giant when it comes to quality. Thirteen unique native grape varieties and a half dozen international grapes, the region’s complex geology and alpine climate, and the area’s many passionate, talented producers combine to produce a selection of white, red, sparkling and sweet wines of remarkably high quality in all but the most difficult vintages.
French is Spoken Here
Because Valle d’Aosta was under French rule at various times throughout its history, much of the micro-culture and family names are influenced as such. French is widely spoken and is the official language alongside Italian in the Vallee d’Aosta. You’re also just as likely to find pomme (apple, in French) on a menu as you are mela (which again means apple, but in Italian).
That also goes to show the impact of winemaking in the styles of wines in the region, and in La Kiuva.
The Wines of La Kiuva
Rose de Vallee
Nebbiolo, Gros Vien, Neyret
This salmon-hued rosé is a blend from 380 to 500 m and sandy soils. After a 12-hour maceration, this saignée method rosé completes fermentation before 6 months in stainless steel tank and a 2-month stint in the bottle before release. Gushes of watery and youthful raspberry, strawberry, red currant on a medium, bright palate, ending with an appropriately bitter, salty rasp. Cured meats, salty alpine cheeses, lardon-laced salads would welcome this wine.
Rouge de Vallee
70% Picotendro (local Nebbiolo clone), 30% Gros Vien, Neyret, Cornalin and Fumin
“If you love Burgundy and Pinot Noir, you will enjoy this. The same would be true if you like Barbaresco and Barolo except that Rouge de Vallee is lighter than those Piemontese reds. Seventy percent of the wine has to comprise Nebbiolo which is known locally as Picotendro. Bright, shining ruby. Aromatic and fruity. Raspberries and strawberries. Fruit and smooth tannins are delivered by vitality, drive and freshness. Serve this in a large Burgundy glass. Outstanding with duck and lamb.” – Chng Poh Tiong