B-21 Top Recommendation
Imagine an ethereal wine that combines the exceptional aroma and structure of great Nebbiolo like Barolo and Barbaresco with the texture and body of a powerful Amarone. Sound impossible? Look no further than this 2016 Sandro Fay Sforzato di Valtellina Ronco del Picchio, from the Valtellina Superiore DOCG tucked along the Alpine border of Italy and Switzerland. If you haven't heard of Valtellina, there is good reason – until recently nearly 80% of the wines produced here have historically been consumed within 100 miles of the surrounding valley. Like nearby Piedmont, the red wines in Valtellina are produced from Nebbiolo, but here it is a localized clone called Chiavennasca. Rising up south facing slopes in what is Italy's largest terraced wine region, the vineyards of Valtellina are held together by stone retaining walls called muretti (or "little walls"). At altitudes of 750 to 2,500 feet above sea level, the scenic yet death-defying steep slopes are reminiscent of Germany's Mosel and Portugal's Douro. It is at these high altitudes that the grapes for Sandro Fay's top wines are grown.
Sandro Fay established his winery in 1973 and steadily began acquiring prized terraces with different soil compositions in the Valtellina. Sandro's young son and winemaker Marco is steadily improving quality with an emphasis on sustainability and is perhaps best known for this top notch Sforzato di Valtellina. The name Sforzato derives from the verb sforzare (or "force" in English), referring to the process of allowing grapes to dry before being crushed and vinified. Here the partially dried grapes are pressed 3 months after harvest, yielding an intensely aromatic and concentrated wine in the style of Amarone. But make no mistake – the rich flavor profile combined with well-structured tannins will remind you over and over that this is pure Nebbiolo.