Another Face of Nebbiolo: Sforzato #ItalianFWT
Sforzato di Valtellina – One More Valtellina Gem
Finishing up our visit to Valtellina, we have one more Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) based wine to try: Sforzato di Valtellina. Ours was from the Nino Negri winery. Sforzato is something a bit different. Sforzato di Valtellina is made by the passito process in which the grapes are dried before being vinified. If you’re a fan of Amarone, you know this process is exactly the same as used in making that wine, except in this case the grapes are Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca). The grapes are held on straw mats in special drying rooms to let them raisin, losing about 40% of their volume before starting fermentation in December or January. Historically, the drying was provided by the “Breva” wind which blows through the area in the late autumn. The wine must be aged for at least 22 months, and is often aged in small oak barrels.
Even though the wine is dry, the flavor is bold, ripe, fruity and intense. Amarone and Sforzato are unusual as dry wines, as most passito process wines are for dessert, being left with significant amounts of residual sugar.
Nino Negri 5Stelle Sfurzat (Sforzato di Valtellina) DOCG ($60 locally)
Eye: Pale to medium intensity, garnet with an orange rim (one of the few Nebbiolo clues in this wine)
Nose: Clean, bold intensity, very oaky with vanilla, strong herbs of dill and rosemary.
Mouth: Rich texture, oaky flavors of herbs and vanilla, medium- tannins, very long ripe flavorful finish. I would swear this wine had some residual sugar, but the tech sheet says it is 1.6 g/l which is very dry, amazing!
Not really my cup of tea for all its’ ripeness and oaky nature, it was very nicely balanced for someone who loves that style. I was very pleasantly surprised with how good it was with steak. We enjoyed it very much with a nice rare tenderloin fresh off the grill. I could also see this wine with ribs covered in a sweet bbq sauce.