A superb estate in Lombardy
A vineyard carved into a mountain
Grapes have been cultivated in the Valtellina for at least 2,000 years. In the 15th century, when farmers figured out that grapes grew well at high altitude, the land was cleared of trees and rocks to create a spectacular tiered vineyard. The dry stone support walls are a testament to man’s triumph over an unruly nature, and the strength of character of the region’s vintners.
Nebbiolo, King of Valtellina
The black variety is known by many names: Chiavennasca within the region, but Picotener, Spanna or Melasca in the other areas where it grows. It’s easy to become confused! Producing wines with a garnet robe and notes of rose, dried fruit and exotic spices, this variety contributes to all of Nino Negri’s reds.
The name says it all
Nino Negri’s 31 hectares are spread out across four distinct areas in the Valley: Sassella, Grumello, Valgella and the aptly named Inferno, which features steep terraces and intense heat pockets that can be suffocating in summer. The important thing is that grapes love these conditions, despite the challenging soil conditions that force the roots to cling to rock instead of soil and that cause water to run off quickly, leaving the area parched. Fortunately, the vines are refreshed each morning by fog, known as nebbia in Italian, hence the name Nebbiolo.
Helicopter lifting – now that’s different!
You have to wonder, when you harvest grapes on a mountainside, where the terracing is hard to access by mere mortals and nearly impossible by vehicles, how do you get the fruit to the cellar? By helicopter, of course! Leonardo da Vinci, who loved the region’s wines more than 500 years ago, would be delighted by the sight of it!
A five-star wine
The Nino Negri estate produces some 20 vintages aged in French oak barrels, including the outstanding 5 Stelle Sfursat di Valtellina. This is their most widely acclaimed product, crafted only during the best years. Made from 100% Nebbiolo that’s dried for three months to concentrate the sugars, this wine is the perfect complement to Bitto, a local cheese, which is best when aged for three or four years.