Marilena Voyat

Location: Chambave, Val d’Aosta
Year Established: 1800s
Size: 2 hectares
Varieties: Muscat de Chambave, Fumin, Petit Rouge, Vien de Nus
Viticulture: Everything done by hand; no pesticides or herbicides
Vinification: Vino spumante, native yeasts, minimal sulfur, aging in old chestnut barrels

Marilena Voyat’s vineyard is in Chambave, a small village in the Valle d’Aosta, tucked high up against the Alps (not too far from that one rather famous Alp known as the Matterhorn). The Voyat family has made wine here since the 1800s, and the young Marilena grew up shadowing her father Ezio, who tended to them in his free time outside his main job as an accountant for a local casino. She took over completely after her mother died in 2012 (Ezio had passed in 2003), a labor of love that she pursued alongside her career as a middle school fitness teacher and after hre retirement, ever since.
The vineyards are steep and sharply cut into the mountainsides in this area. The ancient roots – all the vines are on their own rootstock, as phylloxera never reached these parts – must dig deep to maintain their footing in the thin, rocky soils. The farming is all done by hand, and native foliage grows alongside the vines. No pesticides or herbicides are ever used. Aging is done in traditional chestnut barrels.
Marilena currently produces just one of the wines her father made, the one he said was his favorite. It’s a gorgeous peach-colored sparkling rosé which he named “La Gazella” for her – this was her nickname as an Italian Olympic gold-medalist in track in her youth. The vineyard is within walking distance of the family’s modest house and cellar. It’s mostly Moscato but unlike any other that you’ve had — dry as a bone, with aromas of straw, roses, and honey; herbaceous and with a finish of mouth-watering acidity.