Since Giuseppe Guglielmo began focusing on making wine in 2008, his quest to make great wine has been a collaborative affair. First and foremost, a collaboration between Giuseppe and our friend and producer Siro Buzzetti of Terrazzi Alti. This collaboration is first based on friendship and extended for the mutual business benefit of both producers. Boffalora is the yin, to the Terrazzi Alti yang.
Vineyard ownership in Valtellina is severely fragmented making the high-wire, labor-intensive act of working these steep slopes ever more challenging and expensive given the need for multiple, non-contiguous parcels, none of which alone is sufficient to sustain a business. Giusseppe and Siro share a common cellar which helps control costs and as importantly, fosters the sharing of ideas along with their time in an effort to support each other. This collaboration, along with others of equal importance to Giuseppe like the one with Alfio Mozzio, have helped breathe new life into a region that saw an increase in vineyards being abandoned only a few decades ago as the next generation saw green pastures elsewhere and the senior statesman no longer had the physical attributes necessary to work in such a demanding part of the wine world.
Boffalora farms about 2 hectares spread across seven different parcels in the Valtellina Superiore DOCG. The oldest vineyard has pre-phylloxera vines dating back to the turn of the 20th century, with the youngest having been planted just two years ago. The winery takes its name in part from one of its vineyards that was reclaimed from forest in 2008. The name is also symbolic of the Breva and Tivano winds that respectively blow up from Lake Como in the morning and down in the evening from the opposite direction.
The vineyards are worked entirely by hand and not because of fashion, but out of sheer necessity. Only the aid of a mechanical cable car system during harvest helps to move the grapes up the steep slopes in small boxes to keep them from being crushed or damaged until they find their way to the cellar. Giuseppe estimates that it requires about 1200 man hours for each hectare he farms in Valtellina. Juxtapose that against an average of 300-400 hours annually to work the vineyards in Barolo or Barbaresco. This begs only one question. Are winemakers in Valtellina crazy? Giuseppe deploys a minimalist approach in the vineyards with an eye towards always doing what’s right for the environment. He practices integrated pest management, specifically including bees in the vineyards in an effort to reduce the use of insecticides. His vineyards teem with life and energy. An energy that he successfully captures and bottles.
Winemaking hasn’t always been Giuseppe’s life-long dream. Rather it was his risk taking personality that pushed him to this way of life after the death of his wife Paola’s father in the early 2000s. It was at that time that he and Paola made the brave choice for Giuseppe to leave his job as an auto-body builder with its steady income and embark on a vinous journey. We are the recipients of that brave decision and the subsequent quest for greatness. It is people like Giuseppe and Paolo that deserve to be supported. I hope you’ll join them in their journey and experience the beauty of their Nebbiolo.
In the words of David Schildknecht from Vinous, “Austria’s 2013 Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners display exceptionally bright acidity, clear flavor definition and uncanny complexity.” 2013 has given us the stunning combination of healthy, ripe grapes that remain light on their feet as the alcohol levels stayed in check, married with focused, tense acidity.
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