The 4 best Rosso di Valtellina under 20 Euros selected by Gambero Rosso

Mar 29 2024, 13:47
Chiavennasca is the Nebbiolo of Valtellina, used not only for Valtellina Superiore and Sforzato but also for the "base" type of the area: Rosso di Valtellina, which producers are increasingly focusing on. Here are the labels with the best quality-price ratio

The incredible variety of Italian wine territories often allows us to discover some very special areas. One of these is Valtellina, with its enchanting landscapes and untouched nature just a couple of hours' drive from Milan, where we've already recommended the best restaurants. We are in the province of Sondrio, amidst the mountains, yet the climate, at least during the day, is entirely Mediterranean.
The reasons? Valtellina is one of the few Alpine valleys oriented from west to east, where the vineyard-covered part only covers the south-facing slope. The Orobian Alps to the south and the Rhaetian Alps to the north, with their 4000 meters of altitude, create a sort of barrier that prevents disturbances from entering, making it one of the least rainy places in Italy: disturbances cannot enter, and when they do, especially from Lake Como, as they ascend the valley, they lose strength. The daytime climate is mitigated by a warm wind called the Breva, blowing from Lake Como.

But above all, what leaves first-time visitors to Valtellina speechless is the system of terraces on which the vineyards insist, a whopping 2500 kilometers. They are the result of millennia-old work, mostly built with dry stone walls and backfilled earth on bare rock, a tangible sign of the toil that Valtellina farmers have had to endure to cultivate the vine. Thanks to these terraces and the presence of stone exposed to the sun, we have perfect irradiation during the day, while in the evening, these stones release warmth to the plants. All this creates conditions for a truly exceptional temperature swing between day and night: in some periods of the year, for example, late September, the difference can even reach 20 degrees.

But what is the main grape variety of this fascinating area? It's Chiavennasca, a local biotype of Nebbiolo. As it happens with siblings, these genetically identical grapes are then different in characteristics. And indeed, after many years of separate lives, the two Nebbiolos are currently quite different. Chiavennasca is less affected by cold, feels less the lack of precipitation, has thick skin, and a larger berry (probably to compensate for drought). The other big difference is that Piedmont Nebbiolo mainly insists on large quantities of clays, while in Valtellina, Nebbiolo roots run on the mother rock. Generally, there's a bit more acidity and more delicate aromas.

The Best Value Rosso di Valtellina

With Chiavennasca, Valtellina Superiore is produced, which together with Sforzato, are the most ambitious wine types of the area. But in recent years, producers have been working with increasing attention on the "basic" type of the area: Rosso di Valtellina, generally very fragrant, elegant wines, endowed with great tension and drinkability. Here are some of the best available in wine shops and online shops for less than 20 euros among those reviewed in the 2024 Berebene by Gambero Rosso.

Ascesa Rosso di Valtellina is a wine of remarkable finesse and fragrance. The 2021 proposes itself with tones of raspberry, licorice, and violet. On the palate, it's fresh, agile, embroidered with flowery and fruity phrasing, with a barely whispered tannin that leaves room for a very pleasant and infiltrating drink.

La Malpaga Rosso di Valtellina 2021 by Ca' Bianche is fresh and crunchy, fine and harmonious on the palate, an expression of Nebbiolo grapes from a small vineyard located in the municipality of Tirano. It stands out in particular for the purity of red fruit, raspberries, and strawberries, which we find again on a palate characterized by lightness, with mentholated notes accompanying and enhancing the sip.

Matteo Bandello Rosso di Valtellina by Luca Faccinelli from the 2021 vintage is fresh, balanced, savory, and of good length on the palate. Happy interpretation of a warm vintage, with clean fruit and great smoothness. The grapes come from vineyards within the Grumello subzone, in the municipalities of Montagna in Valtellina and Sondrio, on sandy and gravelly soils.

Nettare Rosso di Valtellina 2021 by Tenuta Scerscé is brilliant, with notes of raspberry and mountain herbs. Cristina Scarpellini is the soul of Tenuta Scerscé. An important and established professional after graduating in Milan and a research thesis in Paris, she discovered Valtellina in 2008, a meeting of passion, love, and dedication. Vineyards at an altitude between 400 and 720 meters, 6 hectares from Teglio in the Valgella subzone to Tirano, but also new realities in Sassella and Inferno.

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