Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tasting Notes ~ Valtellina

Wines from the five sub-zones Grumello, Inferno, Sassella, Valgella and Maroggia of the Valtellina Superiore DOCG appellation.

Straight out of my tasting journals, which I keep for every wine tasted.

Nobili – in the heart of Inferno-
Small producer Silvano and son Nicola Nobili with only 4 hectares. This is a typically small producer. Less than 3,000 cases made. A labor of love.

Tasted three wines
1) 2004 Sassella
Clear color; dried fruits; good balance; fresh.
4,000 bottles made 60-65 quintals per hectare .
Really a pleasant drink.
Cost from winery €8.

2) 2004 Inferno
Rose petal nose; bergamot ;
Flowery nose;
Taste is a bit tight; slightly bitter – minerally; stoney; good fruit; cinnamon notes.
6,000 bottles made.
Cost from winery €8.

3) 2002 Sforzato di Valtellina “Il Montescale”
Chocolate covered raisins.
Well balanced; slightly amaro (bitter).
2,000 bottles made.
Cost from winery €16.
Full flavors – nice, but doesn’t knock my sock off at that price.

This was once called the Arturo Pelizzatti Perego winery, but when it was sold to the Swiss they lost the use of the name. Now they have their cellars back and use the acronym Ar.Pe.Pe.
At one time this winery, along with Nino Negri, produced the lion’s share of wine from the Valtellina. The huge winery now serves as a great place to house older vintages. In it’s time it was state of the art large production. Now it is a jewel of a winery, smaller quantities but very high quality. Isabella and Emanuele Pelizzatti Perego, a sister and brother team, he is he winemaker and she is the enologist and marketing, now run the operation. Very well respected in the region.

Tasted 5 wines
1) 2006 Valtellina Superiore D.O.C.G. Sassella ( still in botti).
Delicate perfume; nice;
stoney, minerally; schist-like.
tight, good fruit;
needs time.
Great phenolics (I liked the way it smelled).

2) 2005 Valtellina Superiore D.O.C.G. Sassella ( still in botti);
Nicely perfumed, rich, well balanced , delicious.

3) 2001 Valtellina Superiore D.O.C.G. Sassella Vigna Regina
late harvest (dry) – they don’t make a Sforzato, so this is their late harvest entry.
Fruit is twangy, a little sour ( orange);
Still in tank so a bit imbalanced at this point.

4) 2004 Sassella Ultimi Raggi Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio I.G.T. (Late Harvest).
Good raisiney fruit; good balance (in stainless steel tanks) ;
“Sforfzato in pianta” – left to dry on the vines.
from winery website -The Ultimi Raggi (means last rays of sunshine) is Ar.Pe.Pe's expression of a modern Sfursat style wine but is not a Sfursat (they don't make one) but a late harvest Nebbiolo! Grapes from the Sassella sub-zone are left to over-ripen slightly on the vine and harvested in late November after the first snowfall. The wine ages for 6 months in French oak Tonneaux giving it some sweet spice to add to the fresh red fruity aromas. -Amy Wadman

5) 1996 Valtellina Superiore D.O.C.G. Sassella Rocce Rosse Riserva
raisiney; rose; flowery ;
interesting – open 12.5%
very light color.
Winemaker explains here because of the biodiversity of types of Nebbiolo here in Valtellina that indicates a high probability that the origin of the grape is from here.

Nino Negri with Casimiro Maule

1) 2006 Ca’Brione
Sauvignon Blanc,Chardonnay, Incrocio Manzone and Nebbiolo (15%)
Straw, grass; barrel fermented
Flavor of fruit; peaches,melon,butter, a little squash (pumpkin and zucchine)
Nice finish

2) 2004 Quadrio - Nebbiolo and Merlot
nice buttery flavors in the nose; open; rich, flavorful
great flowery nose

3) 2004 Sassella “Le Tense”
1st nose = oak, but sweet, nice, like a coconut aroma. Flavors are rich, remind me of California, very easy to enjoy – American palates might like this.

4) 2004 Inferno “Mazér”
delicate perfume – smokey, nice entry; pleasant wine
wood is understated (thankfully)
from winery website:
"Mazér" in Valtellina dialect means "good, beautiful and generous"
The vineyards from which this wine comes are located in the smallest of the four sub-zones of Valtellina Superiore: 68 hectares between Poggiridenti and Tresivio along the slopes of the Retiche Alps; on the right bank of the river Adda; the name Inferno relates to the steep slopes and the high summer temperature.

yield restricted to 60 quintals per hectare

5)2004 Valtellina Superiore cru “Fracia”
restructured vineyard – vines planted horizontally (most in the Valtellina are planted vertically) to follow shape of the hill in Valgella.
intense; elegant; good structure – well made
late harvested

6) 2004 Sfursat
gorgeous entry into the nose; roses; a little tar;oak;butter; round mouth entry ; fruit, tannin; acid, fresh; a little maturity, a mellowness; pleasant; mouth filling – wonderful sensation – 15%

7) 2004 Sfursat 5 Stelle
sweet fruit;tame oak all in apparent balance; slight cigar box;
mellow flavors – slight edge, but structure, not flaw

from winery website:
Sfursat 5 Stelle is made from a selection of the best grapes from the most celebrated vineyards of the Valtellina Superiore, produced only in top years, The bunches are subjected to a natural drying process; the wine that results from this is particularly robust and alcoholic. Production began with the 1983 vintage and is very limited.
Vineyard: the most favored vineyards in the three sub-zones of DOCG Valtellina Superiore: Grumello, from the Latin "grumus", hill, Inferno, so called because of its steep slopes and very high summer temperature; Fracia, a "cru" exclusive to the House of Negri in Valgella (from the Latin "Vallicula"). Vinification: The best bunches, perfectly healthy and ripe, are picked by hand into small boxes of 6 kg each, then allowed to dry naturally for about three months; during January and February the dried grapes are pressed ( 4 pounds of grapes produces 1 bottle of wine) and vinified by the traditional red wine method for 30 days, with a long, slow fermentation

Alberto Marsetti

1) 2006 Rosso di Valtellina
12% - good sign
herbal notes, sage, oregano
nice flavors, a little harsh

2) 2003 Grumello
some funk in the nose – sulfur – stinky socks – flavors are sharp and not balanced

3) 2003 Valtellina Superiore D.O.C.G. “Le Prudenze”
Still a slight funk (I think it’s in the cellar)
Bitter/stemmy /fruit out of balance with acids and tannins

4) 2003 Sfursat
Again, the wine is one-dimensional- flat;tannic; off smells in the nose
Out of balance….at this time

When we walked into this little cellar in the town of Sondrio I was struck by the quaint character of the space. It would make a great osteria. I believe the cellar should be evacuated and thoroughly cleaned. It is my fear that the wines suffer form contamination in the cellar – TCA – cellar taint. Too bad. It would make an awesome restaurant site, though.

In my mind, the Nino Negri wines were heads and shoulders above the rest. Of course having someone like Casimiro Maule and his 35 years worth of experience helps. To his credit, he talked about some of these other winemakers with encouraging hopefulness. A rising tide can lift all boats, but these other producers are going to have to row a little harder and a little longer before they catch up with the Maestro in Chiuro.

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