As we came in to land into Milan Malpensa airport, the lights of the suburbs looked idyllic. The plane glided in nearly on schedule. Sadly the – presumably trainee - pilot forgot to cut the engines & we bounced onto, & then off, the runway. Bounced, as in, briefly touched down before the Captain took over & opened up the engines again to take us around the airport for another chance to see the idyllic lights of Milan. There were plenty nervous glances around the airplane. Once safely back on “terra firma” I could start to think of what winey delights Piedmont would offer me this year on my annual Italian skiing odyssey. Driving up the Aosta Valley is beautiful. The Northern side of the valley is steeply terraced with vines, mostly Nebbiolo grapes, making Barolo & Barberesco wines. Sadly, these wines are generally out-with my meagre wine budget, brilliant though they can be. The problem with them is that they are rough as anything whilst young & take decades to show their true colours. Once mature, they exhibit all the finesse & smoothness of top Burgundy but with genuine Italian flair. Truffles, wild mushrooms & game are just a handful of some of the flavours you can discover in these awesome reds wines. The Aosta Valley, however, isn’t just about Nebbiolo-based reds. We discovered a great range of local quaffers at our Hotel in Cervinia. There was a fabulous Pinot Noir from www.atoueyo.vievini.it winery in Aosta, which was just gorgeous & good value in the hotel at 18 Euros. They only make 4000 bottles. We had 4 bottles over the course of the week, only 3996 to go then. They also do a cracking Rose made from the Gamay grape (same one as in Beaujolais in France). They only make 2000 bottles of that – leaving 1998 to go. There was a slightly younger couple in the hotel dining room who looked a little lost when given the wine list. They pointed at our table & started on the Pinot Noir themselves, presumably guessing that we knew what we were doing (I hadn’t even done any “I’m a wine merchant” chat at this point!). One of the problems with drinking wonderful wine discoveries in ski resorts is that the altitude can affect your pallet. What is tasty at 2000 metres is generally overblown & too heavy at sea level. Also, beware of combining lunchtime wine & ski slopes, the alcohol can have an enhanced affect due to the rarity of atmosphere. I was reading an amusing review of the refuge restaurant at the top of Cervinia (3400m) by some Swiss tourists on TripAdvisor. They said beware of altitude sickness after having consumed 2 magnum sized bottles of Barolo. There were 10 of them, even so, good effort getting down in one piece with all that “altitude sickness” inside you. Looking forward to next year already!