The grapevine has always been a constant feature in Valtellina’s agriculture. Its cultivation has played a significant role in the history of the valley throughout the centuries and has modified the agricultural landscape as well as influenced the economic life of its inhabitants.
The valley boasts more than ten centuries of enological history and tradition during which writers and poets, including Carducci, praised Valtellina’s wines in their immortal masterpieces.
Along the side of the valley known as Retico, which enjoys a better exposure to the sun, an unusual landscape contrasts with the woods and the flat valley bottom, highlighting how the work of man has transformed the landscape into a network of vineyards, steep terraces and an imposing grid of chestnut stakes which bear testimony to the great wine civilization.
April is the best season to organize trips to the vineyards as nature is awakening and Valtellina’s steep slopes are covered in greenery. Visit the wine cellars and discover the valley’s cuisine with stops at the restaurants and ‘trattorie’ along the trails.
VALTELLINA: RED WINES BORN FROM THE COLD
Since Roman times the Valtellina has been the land of vineyards and wine and, even before the First Millennium, the wine produced from its vineyards was prized and important.
Today as then, when going down the valley you must be struck by the extraordinary system of more than 2500 km of terracing, built along the contours with myriads of dry-stone walls that make vine cultivation possible in the best and sunniest areas of the Rhaetian Alps.
A true treasure and the procedure has been started for inclusion in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The red wines made in this area are produced using Nebbiolo grapes; it is a fine late-maturing vine that, has created over the centuries a perfect harmony with the soil, leading to unique wines such as the Valtellina Sforzato or Sfursat, whose name comes from the traditional practice of drying the grapes, which has been done in the Valtellina since ancient times.
The wine is obtained by hand selecting the best bunches of grapes and then leaving them to dry on wooden lattices placed inside a dry and well-aired room, the “Fruttaio”,
During this winter period the climate of the Valtellina does the rest of the work and thus favours the drying and shrinking of the bunches of grapes.
At the end of January the grape has lost about 40% of its weight, the fruit has dried and the concentrated juice has .
After pressing, a slow fermentation period follows and at least 24 months ageing and refining, first in wood and then in bottles. Valtellina Sforzato is thus a unique expression of a vine, the Nebbiolo and the area of this fascinating Alpine valley.
Valtellina Superiore is always made using Nebbiolo grapes and is divided into five sub-denominations: Maroggia, Sassella, Grumello, Inferno and Valgella that, like Sforzato, are proudly entitled to the DOCG.
For further information:
Ufficio turistico Sondrio
Trieste, 12 – 23100 Sondrio (SO)
+39 0342 512500 – Fax +39 0342 212590
Strada del Vino e dei Sapori di Valtellina / Valtellina Wine and Food Trail
Via Piazzi, 23 – 23100 Sondrio (SO)
Tel. +39 0342 212790
Text courtesy of Provincia di Sondrio Ufficio Turismo