MALEY

One day, Gianluca Telloli, a native of the Valle d’Aosta in far northwest Italy and leading enologist there, got a call to scout an area to plant some new vines. What he found instead were centenarian, largely abandoned apple trees bearing mostly forgotten, antique apple varieties. Inspired by these ancient trees and by the French ciders of Eric Bordelet, Gianluca quit his winemaking job to rediscover the ancient tradition of sidro/cidre. He gathers all of his fruit from abandoned orchards planted at 1000-1500m altitude, half of them in the French Alps surrounding Chamonix and half in nearly-deserted Alpine towns in the Italian Alps. It’s a crazy project — a ‘recupero’ that has the border police checking his passport on both sides of the Mont Blanc tunnel. The name “Maley” comes from both an old Valdostano name for apple (Malus in Latin) and one of the pre-20th century names for Mont Blanc (Mont Malais). The old Valdostano tradition of cider-making was quashed by Mussolini in the 1930s as part of his effort to eliminate anything not sufficiently “Italian” — cider being, in the fascists’ view, a French affectation. The few remaining cider outlaws stopped producing in the 1980s. Maley is currently the only commercial producer of cider in the Valle d’Aosta.