I like wines from all over the world, I’m not a wine snob nor am I too chauvinistic but most of my preferred wines come from Italy 🙂 . That I’m a big fan of Valpolicella wines you already found out when I spoke to you about my wine trip through the Valpolicella wine region. The wine region that is on top of my list (and I have to admit also lays closest to my heart) is Valtellina! It is not only my preferred region because my family roots are here (most of my family lives in Valtellina), but also because this region produces the most wonderful wines!!
For many people it is still an unknown region and lots of times a forgotten region, unfairly if you ask me. I’m also not sure why this region isn’t more well known? Valtellina is a small region in the moutains in the North of Lombardy somewhere inbetween the Como lake and the Swiss border. Valtellina is mostly known amongst ski lovers as Valtellina has some of the most renowned ski areas in the world with towns like Bormio and Livigno (also known as it is taxfree) as the most famous. Every time I visit this region I fall in love with it over and over again.
The wines in the Valtellina region are mostly made with the Chiavennasca grape that is better known as Nebbiolo… YES indeed the grapes used to make that other Italian beauty called Barolo 🙂 . In this region however the wines go with names like Sassella, Inferno, Valgella and Sforzato which are bascially the names of area’s between Villapunta and Tirano with exception for Sforzato. The Sforzato wine is the Valtellina version of Valpolicella’s Amarone. Sforzato gets made in the same way by using partially ‘dried’ grapes aka the appassimento method (The drying process concentrates sugars and results in higher alcohol wines).
The wine estate that has put the Valtellina wines on the map on an International level (and I think everybody agrees on this) is Nino Negri. I’ve known Nino Negri my whole life as my dad also used to sell their wines in his restaurant… mainly because back then you didn’t find any other producers from the region in Belgium, but also that to my opinion they were and still are one of the best producers in the area. I wouldn’t be able to name a favorite from their gamma as I like all, but if you are a wine lover do try their Le Tense, Mazer, Sfurzat and if the budget allows it the 5 stelle which is an indescribable beautiful wine. It does warm up my heart that more and more wines from other wine producers from Valtellina found their way to Belgium or even to other countries all over the world. All or most Valtellina winemakers have joined forces and created a consortium that represents the whole wine region. I see this as a positive thing as together they are stronger then separately.
When I am in the region I do always try to taste as many “new” producers (or maybe just ones that I didn’t know about). A few weeks ago (as you might have see on my FB or Instagram) I was in Valtellina for a family visit with my dad. Normally my babygirl was coming along, but unfortunately she became ill the night before leaving… so she stayed at home with my wife. I was sad she couldn’t come, but at the other hand this way we had the liberty of visiting some wine estates 🙂 🙂 If it were up to me I would have visited many more, but our main purpose for travelling to Valtellina was to visit family and the vineyard visits had to happen in between the family visits.
Initially I planned to visit 3 vineyards: Rivetti & Lauro, Balgera and Menegola. However we sadly didn’t manage to visit the last (Menegola) due to time issues, but I’m really sad about it because I was really looking forward to it… next time without any doubt!!!
The diffrences between the Rivetti & Lauro estate and Balgera couldn’t have been bigger. Rivetti is only producing wines for 3 years, whereas Balgera was one of the first estates to make wine in the region and it now already the 5th generation of winemakers. Balgera is rather a classical style wine maker who respects the traditions, Rivetti on the other hand is a more modern estate that experiments with new methods and grapes…. I wouldn’t say that I prefer one over the other. They both have a different style of wine and depending on the circumstances I’ll prefer drinking one over the other 🙂 but I guess that’s the case with every wine
To be continued….