two hours from the city of Milan you find one of Italy’s most dramatic wine
regions and one of the least explored; Valtellina. A place that runs along the
Swiss border and known for its beautiful landscapes and ski resorts. Thankfully
for us wine lovers it is also one of Italy’s least-known wine regions, one that
offers amazing value.
Wine in Valtellina has been made for more than 2000
years, even Leonardo da Vinci mentioned Valtellina wines in his Codex
Atlanticus, describing them as “heady and strong”. Over the centuries, farmers
discovered that because of the higher altitude, wines produced here were
bright, aromatically complex and had velvet smooth tannins. Unlike their
cousins from Piedmont, these are wines that are incredibly food friendly and
customers can enjoy them in their youth.
position near the Alps provide the area with some of the steepest slopes of any
wine region in the world. Winemaking here is a painstakingly slow process. But
one that is well-worth the effort.
success of the region in recent years strives in the fact that demand and
appreciation for nebbiolo has skyrocketed As prices have risen for the best
Barolos and Barbarescos, the most famous nebbiolo wines, consumers have looked
for less-expensive sources. The choices are few since Nebbiolo, unlike many
other grapes, has not prospered outside its home territory, northwestern Italy.
Today, we have entered a prime era for Valtellina production.
a recent Valtellina tasting held by Eric Asimov (NY Times wine critic), Jeff
Porter, beverage operations director for the Michelin starred
restaurants Babbo and Del Posto; and Aaron Von Rock, wine
director at Lincoln Ristorante in NYC, they compared more than 50 wines
from well-established producers if the region like Aldo Rainoldi, Sandro Fay,
and Mamete Prevostini. The latter was the winner, which brings us to our wine
One of the top
producers in Valtellina is Mamete Prevostini. The history of Mamete Prevostini
as an Italian wine producer goes back more than 70 years when Mr.
Prevostini founded the estate after World War II interested in serving great
local wines at his restaurant Crotasc, which opened its doors in 1924 and it
currently holds a 1 Michelin Star. The name Crotasc derives from the word
crotti, which are the natural caves found throughout the region and provide
ideal cellar conditions for the wines.
his grandson Mamete oversees the winery. He has revamped the winemaking
approach, to the extent of closing for eight years between 1987 and 1995 to
make root and branch changes. Along with modern cellars, completed in 2013.
Mamete’s wines have received the “Tre-Bicchieri” awards 5 times plus today’s
bottling made it to the 2013 Top 100 List from Wine Spectator.
estate owns 8.5 hectares of south-facing vineyard that sit at 400 meters
altitude above the town of Sondrio. The wines are 100% Nebbiolo (here known as
chiavanesca), less full-bodied than their cousins from Barolo to the south, but
wonderfully fragrant and silky. The grapes undergo only 8 days fermentation in
stainless-steel tanks and then spend 12 months in oak before bottling.
Mamete Prevostini Sassella is a lean yet seductive wine of great purity. Wines
from the "Sassella" cru vineyard of Valtellina are among the more
powerful and concentrated from northern Lombardy.
Purple-red in color with orange nuances. Intense scent of tea leaves, wild
black cherries, white truffles and pine needles. Secondary aromas of cardamom,
black cherry, while on the palate the wine is harmoniously integrated. Beautifully
layered aromas of fresh wild berries, with a bright acidity and cashmere subtle
tannins. Providing an extremely long finish.