Dear Wine Lover,
Typical of how we have found most of our great wines, today’s aged and ready to enjoy Nebbiolo came by way of word of mouth once I was on the ground last January in Sondrio in the breathtaking Valtellina Valley. I was having dinner in Sondrio at Restaurant Trippi and enjoying Ar.Pe.Pe.'s 2011 Grumello Rocca de Piro Riserva. Both the food and the wine were outstanding and I highly recommend them both if you have the opportunity. After dinner I struck up a conversation with Gian Luca, the chef at Trippi. After talking about why I was in Sondrio and what I was looking for, he pulled the cork on Giorgio Gianatti Grumello Valtellina Superiore 2008.
The first sip of the 2008 is etched in my memory. Elegance personified in a traditional expression of high mountain Nebbiolo (known locally as Chiavennasca). When I land on a find like this I have these feelings of self-doubt. Was the wine really that great or did I just dream that? So I drank another bottle the following evening at dinner at Trattoria Olmo. Again, stellar. My third bottle in three days came in the cellar of Giorgio Gianatti the next day after the rendezvous was arranged by Isabella at Ar.Pe.Pe. Thanks once again Isabella for your generosity. Three different bottles, three different occasions. All wonderful.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, the Valtellina valley is a high alpine, foreboding wine regionwhose ruggedness is juxtaposed against the gentle and welcoming spirit of the people who make this place home. The Valtellina valley runs from Ardenno on the West to Tirano on the East. It’s about a 45-kilometer trip from one end to the other. Right in the middle sits the bustling (and largest) town of Sondrio. Given the East/West orientation of the valley, all the vineyards are found on the North side and face the South. The Southern exposure provides the vineyards long, sunlit days that help ripen fruit that without this perfect orientation would struggle to reach maturity this far North.
Today’s wine is a Grumello Valtellina Superiore DOCG. Here’s some quick info on what that means in the case of Valtellina wines. The entire East/West valley has been designated Rosso di Valtellina DOC, and wines from this zone are considered to be at the first quality level in the region. Within the Rosso di Valtellina DOC is the next highest quality level known as Valtellina Superiore DOCG. Valtellina Superiore DOCG wines must come from certain specific areas in the valley. Several of the specific Valtellina Superiore growing regions have their own names that precede the Valtellina Superiore designation. They are Maroggia, Sassella, Grumello, Inferno and Valgella. These subzones have been separately named based on the specific style of wine that is perceived to come from them. In the case of Grumello, you’ll typically find wines of elegance and restraint, less upfront hello/how are you elements and more subtlety. Yet plenty of sneaky power and length to balance it out.
Chris & Michael
Click here to learn more about Giorgio Gianatti!
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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