I recently had an amazing opportunity to travel to the Valtellina region of Northern Italy to visit Nino Negri, a producer that we have loved through numerous vintages both here at Soif and at our sister restaurant, La Posta. Barolo and Barbaresco may have have the name and the fame when it comes to the Nebbiolo varietal, but this region situated at the base of the Italian Alps is one to take note of.
Vines have been cultivated in the Valtellina region since the 9th century, but it wasn't until the 1500s when the region was under Swiss control, that Chiavannesca (the local name for Nebbiolo) was planted because of its ability to survive the journey back to Switzerland. The grape was dubbed Chiavannesca, which literally meant "plus wine" because it was capable of making red wines of great quality and ripeness- a commodity at the time in the Swiss marketplace.
I said before that I already liked the wines, and in my limited research I had seen photos of some of the terraced vineyards that are the landmark of the region, but I could not have imagined how staggering, steep and striking they were in person! Some of the grapes were even picked up with a helicopter after harvest to expedite the laborious process of climbing back down the hill....errrr mountain. They named the hill Inferno for a reason.
The scenery was amazing, but so were the wines! While Nebbiolo is prized for its power in Piemonte, in the Valtellina, it is cherished for its elegance and charm.
So, after all this talk of roaming around the Valtellina, it would only be fair to share my experience with a flight of these incredible wines. This week only, we will be pouring two exceptional wines from Nino Negri, one of the most important wineries in this region.
We will be featuring:
2010 Nino Negri Fracia - a cru (or specific vineyard) owned by Nino Negri that lies within the Valgella Subzone. This particular plot takes time to ripen and is usually one of the last vineyards harvested. The fruit is remarkably concentrated, bright and juicy. It is a wine that will gratify many different tastes with its charming fruit and generous structure.
2009 Nino Negri Sfursat - "Sfursat" meaning strained or forced, is the name given to wines that are harvested and dried for several months before pressing and fermenting the juice. The grapes are harvested a bit earlier to insure that the acidity is intact and balance is achievable. The drying process concentrates the sugars so ample acidity is imperative for vitality in the finished wine. The wine is a brilliant mix of lively fruit and serious structure. The tannins walk the fine line of being present without being harsh.
New on the menu tonight
House-made pork sausages w/ shelling beans, Freddy's Pink Pearl apples & apple mostarda paired with 2010 Roland Schmitt "Altemberg" Pinot Gris
10% Off the Txomin Etxaniz Txakolina - Basque Country Spain $27
Txakoli (pronounced CHOCK-oh-lee), hails from the basque region of Spain.
Its electric zing of acidity, slight salinity and zippy effervescence make it the perfect wine to sip on a hot afternoon. Pair it with a salad of heirloom tomatoes, grilled fish and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a sublime summer meal.