Sforzato Della Valtellina
As you drive from Milan in a North East direction you will reach the picturesque Valtellina in the province of Sondrio. It is an evocative Alpine territory in the northern part of the Lombardy considered for many aspects to be heroic. It is large, lush and green and dominated by mountains that are tall. It is not only a popular tourist attraction in the winter months but is also home to the famous Sforzato Della Valtellina one among the noblest of Italian red wines.
Valtellina is located in Northern Italy, an east-west valley north of Lake Como between the Retiche Alps and the Orobic Alpine foothills. Thanks to its unique position it has a remarkable climate that is essential for the production of Sforzato Della Valtellina.
Wine making has ancient origins in Valtellina. It is believed that the vine was cultivated in pre-Roman periods by the Etruscans and the Ligurians, the earliest known inhabitants of this region. Years later the Romans developed vine culture on the sunny Retiche side. The rural landscape was converted by the construction of a network of terraces supported by dry stonewalls. Since then the panorama of the vineyards remains the same. Today, as then, the vineyards are most often planted on terraces supported by dry stonewalls.
Due to the determination of the locals the wine growing spaces have been wrested from the mountains one square metre at a time. It has made the fortunes of the local population. The better vineyards for Sfursat are found in altitudes of 400-450 on terraces exposed to the south and well ventilated.
Nebbiolo the main grape used to make Sforzato Della Valtellina was introduced in the 14th century but the development in trade in Nebbiolo wines started between the 16th and 18th century when Valtellina was under the rule of the Swiss.
Sforzato or Sfrusat is a dry wine obtained from drying the best Nebbiolo grapes harvested in the most well exposed vineyard in the regions of Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore. The local name for Nebbiolo grape is Chiavennasca.
The vines are cultivated by hand as except for a few small gently sloping spaces it is practically impossible for the use of any kind of mechanization. The grapes are collected manually. It is hard work to transport the grape collections on the shoulders of the peasants through the paths of the terraces. One feels a sense of admiration for the hard work of the peasants and their tenacious will. Getting quality wines, which have been the pride of centuries of Valtellina, rewards one. The grapes are spread out in mats or in boxes and are left to wither naturally usually from Harvest time, which is late October until mid January or even early February. This treatment leads to a high concentration of natural sugars and special aromas. The dehydration of the grape varies between 30-35% and this produces a great wine, which is a combination of body, elegance, longetivity and easy digestibility. The vinification process consists of soft pressing of the grapes and subsequent fermentation. A 2 to 3 year ageing in oak casks & a final 6 to 12 month bottle refinement give this red wine its uniqueness.
Sforzato Della Valtellina is a very special wine obtained uniquely from Nebbiolo grapes that are left to ripen for a longer period than is required for the production of regular wines. Its quality depends not so much on technical matters as on climatic conditions and the quality of the grapes. It is thus an embodiment of the uniqueness of this Alpine territory.
Sforzato Della Valtellina owes its name (sforzato which means withering or strained) to the very ancient practise of withering Nebbiolo grapes.
Sforzato Della Valtellina has a deep red colour with a slight garnet edge. It has an intense bouquet, ethereal and very complex. It is a full-bodied structured wine with a velvety taste. It is a wine that benefits greatly from long ageing & make sure that you keep it in a cool place in your wine cellar.
It is excellent as a sipping wine. Many a quiet and contemplative evening can be spent sipping this wine near the fireplace. It can also accompany red meat or game and is excellent with aged cheeses like Callegio and Gorgonzola and Bitto.
Although it is considered as an expensive wine it makes an excellent gift for all occasions as this red wine is appreciated all over the world. The vintage years make an ideal gift for special occasions and celebrations.
It is the highest expression of valtellinese viticulture and is rich in extracts with soft and smooth tannins. It has a persistent aroma evoking memories of dried fruits and preserves.
Sforzato Della Valtellina is the pride of Valtellina and one of the greatest wines of Italy. Its unrivalled complexity and elegance makes it a premium wine from Lombardy. It is a vintage wine only produced during propitious harvests and is truly a connoisseur’s delight.
Open Wine Cellars 2005 was an occasion for visitors to appreciate the job of making this noble wine. 13 companies participated. The movement of Tourism of Lombardy promoted this initiative. Visits to different wine cellars were arranged.
Some of the famous wine cellars are
- Wine House Bettini
- Wine House Black Peter
- Wine House Triacca You Count Sertori Salis
- Sandro Fay
- Wine House Aldo Rainoldi
- Sforzato Della Valtellina carries Italy’s most prestigious appellation Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination Of Origin.