Valtellina ( i.e. the province of Sondrio), is located in northern Lombardy, on the border between Italy and the Swiss canton; it is one of the most exciting wine areas in Italy. But it is not yet as well known as it deserves. Here is a small complete guide with the 5 things you absolutely need to know.
The Valtellina of wine: the 5 records to know.
1. Hours of sunshine in Valtellina
On average, Valtellina has the same number of hours of sunshine per year as Pantelleria. This extraordinary exposure to sunlight of the vineyards contributes to the goodness of its wines.
2. Dry stone walls in Valtellina
With over 850 hectares of vineyards and 2,500 km of dry stone walls , Valtellina is the largest terraced area in Italy. More than 90% of the Valtellina vineyards are on terraced territories. In many the slope exceeds 30%: for this reason, in Valtellina, viticulture is heroic.
3. The DOCGs of Valtellina
Sforzato ( Sfursat ) from Valtellina is the first dry red passito in Italy to have received the DOCG, established in 2003. It is obtained through a partial drying of the grapes. But it is not the only controlled and guaranteed denomination of origin in the area, the other DOCG in the area is Valtellina Superiore (sub-areas Maroggia, Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Valgella).
4. Native vines of Valtellina
The main grape variety of Valtellina is Nebbiolo, locally called Chiavennasca and also known as "Nebbiolo delle Alpi". Other native grapes are: Rossola nera, Pignola Valtellinese, Brugnola di Valtellina.
5. Underground cellars in Valtellina
Valtellina has an important heritage of underground cellars: spaces for winemaking and aging literally dug into the rock . They do not impact the landscape, they maintain stable temperatures and humidity without wasting energy, allowing the perfect maturation of the wine.