A journey though north Italy and a tasting report on some authentic wines from the Valtellina area – Villa Walter Fontana
Cars, fashion and wines!
Some time ago I had a good chat with Marco Ferrari, Manager of Sales of the Villa Walter Fontana wine company. The winery is located in the city of Monza in Lombardy. Monza is mainly known for its Autodromo Nazionale, the Formula 1 circuit where many motorsport fans go every year to attend the Grand Prix of Italy. In this area the larges city is Milan were fashion, fast cars and wines come together!
History of Villa Walter Fontana
The history of Villa Walter Fontana (VWF) has been deeply linked to the Valtellina’s territory and its vineyards for over 60 years. In fact, as early as the middle of the last century, Walter Fontana assiduously frequented Valtellina’s cellars during his numerous stays in Bormio, a place where, in 1966, he founded, with great foresight, the Società Impianti Bormio (SIB), still one of the most important ski areas in Lombardy.
Walter’s greatest passion was the Valtellina and the wines that are made there. At that time he already had the sense for high biodiversity of the valley and the great potential, also in international evaluations, of the local wines. The authentic strength are the elegance as well as in the countless variations of possible food pairings. Today the commitment of VWF remains the one indicated by its founder: to promote a unique territory safeguarding its peculiarities and bringing it even closer to the consumers of the future. The winery has got the focus on the following principles; sustainability, patience and tradition.
Valtellina is an alpine valley of glacial origin considered the most important mountain viticulture area in Italy.
Heroic viticulture, dangerous job!
The Valtellina area is located in the north of Italy, near Bergamo, Como and Bellagio, its epicenter is the city of Sondrio. The vineyards cultivated on small terraces built on steep slopes present important challenges as the difficult accessibility makes the care of the vine and the harvest complex, so much so that it is sometimes carried out with the help of helicopters to transport to the bottom of the valley the grapes harvested on the terraces, an additional effort largely repaid by the quality of the production.
Tasting the wines
Villa Walter Fontana makes white, red and sparkling wines from different ‘appellations’ like Alpi Retiche IGT, Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG, Rosso di Valtellina DOC and Nebbiolo Alpi Retiche IGT. I did a tasting with the following wines.
ALPI RETICHE IGT
This wine is a 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Alpi Retiche IGT region. This region was established in 1995 and got the current name in 2017. The wine is assembled under controlled temperatures, no filter is used and stored for 5 months in stainless steel tanks.
RACCONTO SEGRETO 2019
‘This wine is as clear as the mountain air of the region were the grapes are harvested! Dusting gooseberry, exploding boxwood and incredibly fresh lemons shooting out of the glass. The northern region naturally provides the fresh acidity, this wine is very close to the New Zealand variety, incredibly well made! A supple and svelte wine without a lot of fuss.’
Memore 2019 A blend of the ‘opposites’ in white wines! This wine is a cepage between Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. The production process is equal as the ‘’Racconto Segreto’’ no wood added, just made on the pureness of grapes.
‘’Clear with a lightly scented nose. The wine has less acidity than the previous one. The palate is more pear and apple with less dominant lemons. Medium body with more intensity within the multilayered flavors. Fresh, voluptuous hints make this wine more gastronomic!’’
If you are a Piedmont wine lover, the next few red wines should definably have your attention. The wines are made from the Chiavennasca grape, which is the native name for Nebbiolo.
Rituale 2019 Alpi Retiche IGT After a careful selection of grapes the wine ripening for 8 months in steel tanks and finally ages for 2 years in the bottle.
‘’A clear ruby red wine with a fresh and fruity nose. Within the taste the wine has aromas of little red berries and a floral note. But overall impression is a fresh and fruity forward style which is absolutely a great match for next summer BBQ!’’
Legame 2019 Rosso di Valtellina DOC
Another 100% Chiavennasca, the local Nebbiolo, but this time with a little touch of ‘oak maturation’, due to the fact that the wine is put in large oak barrels of around 5.600 liters. Due to the large barrels the contact with the wood is low and the wood flavor is present but not too dominant. After the aging in the barrels the wine is aged for 1 year in the bottle for the final result.
‘’The color is typically ‘Chiavennasca’, light ruby. The wine has a medium-high aroma intensity of light floral and soft small red fruit. On the palette there are red berries, cassis aroma’s, red cherries and a sweet hint of toast and cedarwood. All with well-integrated tannins, acidity and fruit is well balanced and it all finishes with a long aftertaste of plums.’’
Luci Nel Bosco 2017 – Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG
This non filtered Nebbiolo from the Valtellina DOCG is based on grapes that are dried for 2 months and aged in oak barrels for 20 months. After this the winemaker assembles the wine in stainless steel tanks and it matures for 1 year in the bottle.
‘’The nose of this wines is a powerful on! Fruity notes of blueberries, ripe raspberry, raisins, flowers, currants and smoky aromas are popping out of your glass. On the palette this wine has a lot of intensity (leather, licorice, nutmeg and clove) which improves the concentration. The wine can be descripted as complex and rich and doesn’t lose its fruitiness. Think of wonderful marmalade! All aromas have a lot of flavor packed and are harmonious with the acids in the wine. The tannins are vivid, but without being disturbing. Despite the high alcohol percentage, there is a pleasant mouthfeel, that’s lingers and ends with that typical ” Piemonte ” bitterness.’’
Pietra Antica 2016 Sassella Riserva Valtellina Superiore DOCG Like the Luci Nel Bosco 2017 this wine is also based on dried grapes to achieve a high sugar level for a minimum potential alcohol level of approximate 14%.
After fermentation the winemakers does not use any type of filter and the wine will go into large oak casks (similar to Legame 2019) for 24 months. After that they put the wine over in steel tanks, as the wine rest for 2 months and will be aged in bottle for a minimum aging of 1 year.
‘’Again the typical ruby color and on the nose a refined mix of roses, vanilla and cherry. Well cohesive aromas in the nose and on the palette with additional raisins and flowers (roses), but also the typical ‘rusty’ scent, closed with old wood and light cherry. The taste is balanced, has a balance between fruit, aromas and acids. The tannins are soft and polished. The aftertaste is experienced as pleasant.’’