Italy’s Valtellina denomination, based in the region of Lombardia, offers some great, under-appreciated values. If you are a lover of nebbiolo, this zone is worth exploring! We have pulled our review of this denomination directly from the AG Wine app:
The Valtellina DOC is located in the mountainous northern reaches of the region, around the town of Sondrio; wines are based on the nebbiolo grape variety (minimum 80%), which is locally called “chiavennasca”. The Valtellina Superiore DOCG zone is derived from a smaller segment of this same geographic area and wines are comprised of at least 90% nebbiolo.
The nebbiolo grape produces some of the best, most sophisticated red wines in Italy. The wines are characterized by large amounts of acidity and tannin, which typically require many years of bottle aging to balance and integrate. The wines typically exhibit flavors such as tar, roses, violets, herbs, cherries, leather and tobacco.
While nebbiolo is most clearly associated with the region of Piemonte, the grape performs well in the mountains of Lombardia’s Valtellina. As compared to those from Piemonte, Valtellina nebbiolos are often less concentrated, but offer great value and easier drinkability.
While all Valtellina DOC wines are of generally high quality, look for the following six Valtellina Superiore DOCG subzones for an even better experience: Grumello (fruity versions of nebbiolo), Inferno (most powerful versions of nebbiolo), Maroggia, Sassella (full-bodied versions of nebbiolo), Stagafassli, and Valgella (most delicate versions of nebbiolo).
Lombardia gets a lot more press for Milan’s fashion industry than its wines, and there is some reason for this. Lombardia produces a lot of wine, and much of it is good, but it does not have a high-quality grape variety in which it has taken a leadership winemaking role. Lombardia produces wines based on other regions’ signature grape varieties and does a respectable job while keeping prices low; however, these wines rarely surpass those of the home region. As a result, there are many tasty wines here, but few stars.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: Franciacorta sparklers, the red bonarda (croatina) variety, and the red chiavennasca (nebbiolo) from the Valtellina region.