After Piemonte, now time for some Nebbiolo delle Alpi at Mamete Prevostini

A few weeks ago it was time for my yearly trip to my beloved Valtellina (to see my Nonna), with this year a little detour via Trieste (to visit my dear zia Livia) and a pitstop in Franciacorta (near Brescia).  As I got accompanied by my dad and stepbrother, this year’s trip was a more gastronomical version 🙂 . Nevertheless with whom I’m travelling, a yearly returning event is me visiting a new vineyard in Valtellina. With new I don’t necessarily mean one that doesn’t exist very long… but rather just one I haven’t been at before. This year I finally managed to visit the winery of Mamete Prevostini. I say finally, because unlike all the other wineries in Valtellina that are located between Tirano and Sondrio (roughly spoken), their winery is quit outside of the Sondrio area near the very charming little village of Chiavenna and not too far from the Como lake.  The area still falls under Sondrio jurisdiction and it technically speaking just at the other side of the mountain (in a matter of speaking), but is just quit the drive to get there.

The fact it was so ‘far’ from the others intrigued me for a long time… Maybe it was also the trigger for wanting to visit them… that, and the fact they make extrodinary wines. During previous trips it wasn’t easy to fit a visit in my trip, so this year I build my trip around the visit and make everything fit around it 🙂 .

An interesting finding (but then again that is the reason why one visits a winery :-)) was to find out that it all actually started with their restaurant and next to that they were making  a small wine production for own use to  eventually become major winemaker in Valtellina.  This story immediately made me think about the one I heard a few months ago at Gaja (funny enough also producers of Nebbiolo wines) where they also started with an ‘osteria’ that eventually grew into a major winery (and even around the same period in time). The only difference being that Gaja’s guests were mostly people wanting to cross the river, at Mamete is was to cross a mountain 🙂 .

If you are ever in the neighborhood I do recommend  you stopping at Mamete Prevostini!! For their wines obviously, but also for their restaurant Crotasc (located next to the winery).  The meal we had there was without doubt and exaggerating AMAZING. Dishes made with top quality ingredients (prepared how they should be),  very friendly and competent staff and a very nice wine selection (Next to their own wines they also have a very nice selection of both top wines from their colleague winemakers in Valtellina, but also from the rest of Italy).  Combine all of the above mentioned with a cozy authentic location (old and new interior design styles combined) and you have a winner (or at least for me)!! Maybe I should plan my next trip to Valtellina around a stop at this restaurant 😉 . The dishes on the pictures below might seem regular, but I can say for a fact I could have licked my plates clean. All accompanied by a very nice 2015 Sommarovina (Valtellina Superiore) with on the nose herb/balsamic aromas combined with a firm palate of dried black cherry and I might even say mocha.

Techically speaking the history of Mamete Prevostini started around the 1960’s, but it wasn’t until the moment Mamete took over the torch in the late 1980’s from his father that the way of winemaking started to change. It must be said that this was the case in many wineries in Valtellina, as before they opted quantity over quality… luckily thanks to people like Mamete (and some of his colleagues) they started understanding ‘Quality’ was the way to go 🙂 .

Mamete’s arrival brought many innovations both in the cultivation of vineyards and in winemaking. With a very recent highlight or better latest innovation, in 2013,  their CasaClima Wine Cellar. CasaClima basically stands for sustainability and eco-friendly . At Mamete Prevositi they see it as their responsibility towards the future and it’s new generations to treat nature with respect and try to pollute as little as possible.

The CasaClima is not open for public, so you can only visit their historical cellar… but is also very charming to visit, especially if you have the lovely Daniela showing you around 🙂

Mamete’s vineyards are spread over 2 area’s (or that’s how you could see it). The first and smaller area is close to their historic winery in Mese or better in Piuro. At this vineyard they cultivate the Gewurztraminer and Riesling grapes for their Passito. All the other grapes are cultivated in vineyards spread between Sondrio/ Montagna In Valtellina and Tirano. This is also why they decided to build their new wine cellar closer to where all the grapes are, to avoid stressing the grapes but also to pollute less by avoiding use of all trucks driving for the vineyard to the historical winery.  Which all fits in their vision of trying to be very ecological.  95% of grapes they grow are obviously Nebbiolo (or Chiavennasca as they call it in Valtellina), the remaining 5 procent are Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Rieseling, Traminer, Pinot Bianco and Incrocio Manzoni for the few white wines they make.

Something I cannot say enough (and I repeat myself) is that next time you drink, buy or want to drink or buy a wine from Valtellina and are wondering why they have a ‘higher’ price… you must actually ‘Google’ the words ‘Valtellina vineyards’ and take a look at the pictures that are presented. Unlike in many other wine producing areas, for winegrowers in Valtellina it’s not possible to use machines to do the grape picking for them… ALL IS DONE MANUALLY  ( for the whole 6000ha of land in Valtellina where grapes are grown). And all of this is even before all of the work in the cellar has to get done. Respect!!  In case Googling is not your thing, feast your eyes on below pictures.

The wines Mamete Prevostini produces all have a very distinct and unique character . I would say a mix of elegance, finesse, power, for a great interpretation of Nebbiolo in Valtellina.  Lucky us for beeing able to try them all 🙂 🙂 under the  expert guidance of Daniela. FYI Daniela has only recently joined the Mamete team, after finishing her studies (not in wine). Although she has only been working here a short period of time (and even in wine in general), I must say she sounds like a real pro who has been in wine for many years (but I guess that’s what happens when you do something with passion).

Starting with the young wines, to the classics, through the cru’s and reserves to finish with an apotheosis aka their Sfurzat wines!! What a tasting 🙂  Even when you taste their young wines you feel the potential they have… so you can imagine how it was to taste the big guns. If I would have to pick a favort I would go for the ‘Valtellina Superiore Riserva’ that in my opinion had everything I like in a red wine: well balanced palate alongside fine-grained tannins and bright acidity!! Real beauty.

I would be a big liar if I would say the Sforzat wines (Corte di Cama and Albareda) didn’t do me anything as they are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I was astonished  by the freshness they still have in them. I mean it are wines that have been ‘aging’ for almost 3 years.  Very delicate aromas and concentrated palate. But if you really want to know if I’m right or not… only 1 thing to do… or maybe 2:  to either traval to Valtellina or find out where they sell these beautiful wines close to where you are living and by it 🙂 🙂

I could keep talking, but one has to stop somewhere…

Cheers!!

 

Hidden treasures: wines from Valtellina: Rivetti e Lauro

I know it has been a while, but I finally made it to continue my story about my visit to my preferred wine region and 2 wineries . Like I mentioned in my first blogpost about this trip with my dad , Valtellina is a a wine region that is very underestimated and sadly even unknown to many people. As this is a region that lays very close to my heart I want to promote it as much as I can 🙂

rivetti_lauro

The first vineyard I visited during my stay was Rivetti & Lauro  a rather new winery as they only exist since 2010.  If I have to be completely honest it was a Belgian friend of mine who brought this vineyard to my attention 🙂 🙂 He told me I absolutely had to try their wines as they were spectacular. Who am I not to do as I’m told. Now that I’ve tried them I do agree with my friend and I can also speak for my dad as he bought 3 boxes of wine 🙂 .  What intrigued me most about this winery was its location in Tirano. It intrigued me as I always thought all of the wineries (Nino Negri, Nero, Sandro Fay, Bettini, etc…)in Valtellina were or had to be located near/right around Sondrio (or Chiuro  to be more specific). So it was something I wanted explore and  know more about.

Valtellina - cartina denominazioni d'origine

Just for the record, I am not a professional sommelier yet 🙂 I’m learning every day and I prefer learning everything by visiting and trying and I have some incredible people guiding me towards the estates that are worth visiting.

Rivetti & Lauro is a story about friends that shared a passion for many years and decided to take their passion to the next level. It was 2010 Alberto Rivetti and Dino Lauro opened the doors of their winery “Rivetti & Lauro”. Dino Lauro with over 20years experience in wine business at Nino Negri and 2 years at Salis. Alberto Rivetti on the other hand comes from the world of Coffee but also has a very good business background. They did also get a little help from former friends/ colleagues to realize their dream Catia, Emanuele and Pietro (that also have a long experience in winemaking).

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As base location Rivetti & Lauro  found a very beautiful unique location and are settled  in the historical cellars of Torelli’s Palace. Palazzo Torelli is a 16th century castle from Count Luigi Torelli who was an important personality of the valley and in Italian history. They also still have a beautiful old wine press in their cellar!! FYI they did remodel and renovate the cellar first 🙂

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Did you know that Valtellina is the largest terraced wine-growing area in the Italian mountains? It is!  This basically means lots and lots of manual labor during the harvest as every grape has to be picked by hand. On top of that it is also a place where Nebbiolo is grown (or in this region better known as Chiavennasca), a grape kind that is the synonym for noble and extraordinary quality. As we all know a great wine is made on the vineyards…the human only helps it a bit, but without the good ingredients the human goes nowhere 🙂 The showpiece wine or top of the top would be the Sforzato which is the Valtellina variant of Amarone (with different grapes that is) as they also use the grape drying technique like they do in the Valpolicella wine region. So now you also know why I’m such a big fan of those 2 regions…

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What distinguishes Rivetti & Lauro from other vineyards in the area is that they are experimenting by growing new grape kinds and assembling them with the traditional Nebbiolo. I know that for lots it is like swearing in church, but I must say that it resulted in some very nice assemblies. The Rivetti & Lauro winery is also one of the smaller ones in Valtellina with a production of around 25000 bottles of wine that after vinification in small stainless steel tanks they get refined in French oak barrels. I always find it very courageous to open a new winery and trying to do their own thing and experiment and basically let a new wind blow through this wine region.

Rivetti & Lauro have 8 different types of wine( 7 red and 1 white). Wines going from the full-bodied pride of Valtellina the Sforzato  and Sassella (both 100%Nebbiolo) to the “experimental”  wines like the Cormelo’ a Nebbiolo and Merlot blend (basically the Valtellina variant of the Super Tuscans 😉 ) or the Satama’ a Nebbiolo – Shiraz blend.  One of my personal favorites from Rivetti & Lauro is the UI’ a Nebbiolo in purezza (100% Nebbiolo) that aged for 24months in steel and wooden barrels.  The UI’ balances both complexity and refinement  perfectly and is a real pleasure to drink!! I noticed intense aroma of raisins mixes with the spices, hazelnut with tannins and acidity typical of wines from long vitality.

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Although my biggest love of this wine region and my all time favorite will always be and stay the Sforzato/ Sfurzat!!! One of the most beautiful wines around if you ask me. If you would ever have the chance every year the wine region holds a Sforzato tasting from and with all the wine makers from the region… I call it paradise!!

It was a pleasure to have met this wonderful winery and its wonderful people!! Up to the next 🙂

 

Refined mountain food

The connection between mountains and food doesn’t lead to the thought of refined food (and surely not ‘light’ food), but it is possible! As you might know, my family in Italy comes from beautiful Valtellina (North of Lombardy) located in the heart of the Italian Alps close to the Swiss border. It is also nice to know that even after 31 years I travel here, my family always succeeds in letting us discover great new places in the area… thanks to my zia Loredana and Barbara this year’s discovery was restaurant Fracia. Ristorante Fracia thanks its name because of its location in the middle of the Nino Negri Fracia vines. As the vines are located in the altitude you can imagine the beautiful panoramic views you have up there. The moment arrived at the entrance of this restaurant, I already had a feeling it would be good (see picture below)

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Ristorante Fracia will prove to you mountain food can be lighter and more refined than you think! What ristorante Fracia tries to do is serve dishes most people in the mountains wouldn’t be eating every day and serves a few traditional dishes with a twist. The red wire between all dishes is the use of fresh ingredients, homemade products and if possible most of them local! FYI me and my dad enjoyed our meal so much we returned the day after we had our family lunch. So I guess we liked it 🙂

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A dish on the menu and you should try when you are in Valtellina is Pizzoccheri (slightly heavy) that also happens to be one of my favourites. I didn’t have at Fracia as I already had it at my aunt Barbara’s place, but if it is as good as the other dishes you’re safe. As we ate there 2 days in a row I think we tried almost all the dishes on the menu :-). Feast your eyes on the dishes we had…

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Although all dishes might look simple, but if you want to prepare them in the correct way it is more difficult than you might think! Our compliments to chef Luca Cantoni as he did a really good job  of making us an even bigger fan of the region than we already were. The biggest surprise was definitely the fresh tuna, I liked  the fact that  Chef Luca combined this non mountain product with local ingredients like the the finferli mushrooms . BTW the tuna itself was cooked with perfection!! Damn, this is the reason why I don’t write as many blogposts anymore as I used too…I always become sooooo hungry when I write blogposts like this (especially seeing the pictures) with a result I will go out to eat more and my intent to eat less is all out of the window 😉 😉 Aaah well you only live once right?!

The cherry on the cake are the wines they have at ristorante Fracia (or in Valtellina in general). I don’t want to seem too patriotic, but the wines from Valtellina are in my top 3 of favourite wines (with as preferred the Sfurzat). Something many people don’t know is that the grapes used for the wines here are the Nebbiolo grapes. These are the same grapes used for the Barolo wine, only in Valtellina they call the grapes chiavennasca (just a synonym). For me the Sassella or Sfurzat is in my eyes a better price/quality product to buy than a Barolo as Barolo tends to be very expensive (what doens’t mean I don’t like them, as I do a lot!! Just a bit pricy from time to time if you want a good one). It is a fact that the other wines (from other Italian regions or Champagnes) on the winelist are also great, but I’m of the opinion it is always better to taste the local products… So go for a nice Sassella or Sfurzat (or a Sfurzat 5 Stelle, which is basically the top of the bill). We had the Sfurzat 🙂 just FYI 😉

I do hope you guys one day find the time to travel to Valtellina and enjoy the best this region has to offer of which Fracia is definitely one!! (Let me know if you want a few more) If I would be living in Valtellina Fracia would be what Pazzo is for me in Antwerp (somewhere I tend to be a lot).

Ristorante Fracia:

Address: Località Fracia – 23036 Teglio (SO), Italy

Phone n°: +39 0342 482671

 

My dad and I part 2

So far, so good … the lunch at Sassella was just incredible (as always). We didn’t only come for food … (does that sound convincible?) We also came here to visit family, or better, to visit my grandmother aka ‘La nonna’ 🙂 . On the picture below, La nonna is at the left (with the white sweater), the lady in black is her best friend… They are both so tiny

After that we decided to visit my niece (Francesca) who has a hotel/restaurant at Bormio 2000 (and since Christmas also a pizza kiosk). FYI, the hotel is called Cedrone . I always like coming here, because the view you have from up here, is just wonderful.  Especially on a sunny day like this day …

I’m not really in to skiing, but this is one of the few times I really wanted to do some skiing… but my sickness decided otherwise.

I can really recommend it to everybody!! Go Bormio Go!

In case you might decide to come to Bormio, you should also visit the town of Bormio, which is a nice picturesque little town.

A must when you’re in town is to stop a the brewery/ distillery of Braulio, a local Amaro filled with herbs from the mountains. In case you’re not too keen on Amaro, they also have a beer brewery 🙂 (or you might wanna try one of their grappa’s when it is cold 😉

And unfortunately this was my last evening of good health L after this the rest of my holiday I was sick. And instead of gastronomical dishes, I ate white rice, light soups, etc… WHY ME??? But I have to thank my family for their good care (especially my dad)

Anyway, I really hope you guys get to explore Valtellina one day as you get the Italian flair, food and hospitality at its best!! In Summer and winter

My dad and I

Ok, we’re back in business… Not that I’ve ever been out of business :-),but just a matter of speak

I’m sure all of you guys have read that I actually went on a trip to visit my family or my grandmother to  be more précised .What actually was supposed to be a wonderful trip and time with my dad and family

Turned out as a week inside my grandmother’s apartment.  Why because as of day 2 day I was sick and this up to today :-(. But let me focus on the 1 day I was still perfectly ok 🙂

So me and my dad decided to visit my grandmother who lives near Bormio a well-known for skiing and is located in the Valtellina valley in the north of Lombardy . This time it had been 4years since the last time I was here…. But every time I come here it is more beautiful and for the week we were there, the sun kept shining… it couldn’t be more perfect.  Getting here is usually the tricky part… as we didn’t want to drive the whole way from Belgium up to Bormio, we booked a flight to Verona (we paid 24 EUR per person, YES 24), were we rented a car to drive via Lago d’iseo towards to Val camonica  to than take the passo del tonale or Edolo/Aprica…. To make a long story short, this takes you through nature’s most beautiful sites, even after 28 years I’m still as stung by its beauty like the first time I saw it.

As we arrived in the evening we went to my aunt’s house to have dinner… She prepared my favorite dish (from the region), Pizzoccheri … They were really nice, but not just yet like the once from “La nonna”.

Up to day 2 and to a trip filled with food, food and family :-).

Now that I’m in Italy with my dad, the theme food is evening more present than when I’m alone 🙂

Our first lunch just had to be at my and my dad’s favorite hotel/ restaurant ‘Sassella da Jim

Where they combine the best of the mountains with the right know how and a sauce of friendliness.  Coming here even just for a quick lunch is a must!!  We took the “Menu del giorno” that today was: veduri ai ferri (grilled vegetables), Crespelle al bitto e bresaolo, (I LOVE), bocconcini di manzo ai funghi and a dolce della casa (I took the apple pie, I soooooo love apple pie). You look at these pictures and tell me you wouldn’t want to taste this???

YUMMY. We drunk a Mazer from Nino Negri with this

To be continued….

Feel like Tomba La Bomba! part 2

And so the story continues

As you might expect my trips wouldn’t be perfect without Gastronomy :-), especially when I’m with my family. And Valtellina (this is the region Bormio and Livigno are in) has a lot to offer.

When you have a little walk through the ‘city’ center of Bormio, it is not big, but reaaaaaally nice and you might wanna stop at the original shop of Braulio, this is THE local Amaro or bitter beverage based on aromatic mountain herbs (my brother’s preferred amaro).

Some local dishes/products you should REALLY try are

–          Pizzoccheri (my favorite)

  • a type of short tagliatelle, a flat ribbon pasta, made with  buckwheat flour and  wheat flour. They are cooked along with green  Savoy cabbage, potatoes and layered with pieces of Valtellina Casera cheese and ground Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, and dressed with butter and sage. The ones my grandmother makes are really the best!! Mmm, just thinking of them makes me want them NOW

–          Sciatt: these are small balls (like cheese crockets) made with buckwheat and stuffed with Casera cheese (or another local cheese like bito or Scimudin)

–          Bresaola is dried salted beef meat aged for two years. I used to be from horse meat, but nowadays it is just beef

–          There are still lots of other dishes to explore in this region (fyi if you are on a diet, you’re screwed 🙂 )

Ofcourse all this heavy food needs can’t stand on its own, it needs to wine to go with it 🙂

The 2 biggest vineyards are Nino Negri & Nera. Both of superb quality. Something that you must know about the wines from this region, is that they are also made of Nebiollo grapes (like in Piemonte for Barolo) in combination with the local Chiavernasca grape. White wines are rather exceptional in this region as most of the vineyards make red wine. A White wine from this region that I like a lot is the Ca’brione from Nino Negri. The red wines you’ll have to try are Inferno, Grumello, Sassella and Sforzato. Sforzato is the top of the bill!! Really!! Very Yummy. You should also try Fruit grappa with Mertilli for example from Schenatti. (FYI, you also visit this vineyards if you want)

Some suggestions of restaurants and hotels:

Hotel Posta Bormio

Via Roma, 66

Bormio (SO)

Tel +39 0342 904753

Hotel Cedrone

Bormio 2000 (SO)

23030 Italia

Tel +39 0342 902510

Hotel Sassella (very good food)

Via Roma 2

23033 Grosio (SO)

Tel: +39 0342 84 72 72

Challet Ristorante Mattias (1 Michelin star)

Via Canton 124

23030 Livigno

Tel: +39 0342 997 794

This are just a few, there are many more nice places to discover

Get inspired by this wonderful region! Also in Summertime it is beautiful to make walkingtrips in the mountains, to Valle di Rezzalo.

Feel like Tomba La Bomba!

With the winter and snow coming, I’m sure lots of you guys will be looking forward to go on their winter holidays and start skiing (or snowboarding) again?

If this is indeed the case, I would advise you to go to Bormio or Livigno. Not only because my dad was born in Bormio and that most of my family lives here, but  also a world renowned ski places! Bormio for example has already hosted the World Ski Championships a few times and is also one of the preferred World Ski Circuit stops. So if you like the challenge, you can feel like Alberto Tomba or Debora Compagnioni  (who you can even bump into, as they often come here to ski).  Livigno on the otherhad would be most famous as being a tax free-ski village right next to the Swiss border. Livigno has 115 km of slopes at a height of 1815m until 2797m.

I’ve really been looooooooooots of times to this region, mainly to visit my family ofcourse. Not so much for skiing strange enough… I just don’t like doing it. The only thing I do like is the “après-ski” 😉

BUT both Bormio and Livigno have options for the people who just like the white mountains and don’t like skiing. In Bormio I highly recommend to go to the Bagni Vecchi , warm water source. You can either go to the natural source (you used to be able to swim in them), you can go to the public pool (but believe me, you won’t be swimming too long in that hot water) or you could go to the Bagni Nuovo Spa

The most beautiful view over Bormio is without when you are at Bormio 2000, a view over the whole valley. You should really stop at hotel Gallo Cedrone, which happens to be my cousin Francesca’s hotel 🙂 they are right next to the ski lift to go to 3000m and they have a really big terrace where you can enjoy a hot coco or grappa to warm up in winter (or just a glass of wine to enjoy the view in summer). Most of the food they prepare comes from their own farm.

 

To be continued