Triacca, Sassella Valtellina Superiore DOCG 2016 (about $20)

Italian Wine for september, 2023

The Valtellina Superiore DOCG is a quality wine-producing area in the northern reaches of Italy’s Lombardy region just south of the Alps that border Switzerland. As one of the most northerly wine-producing regions in Italy it is an unlikely but ancient wine-producing area and grapes have been grown here for thousands of years. Valtellina became a DOC in 1968 and the Valtellina Superiore received DOCG status in 1998.

The primary grape variety here is a local clone of Nebbiolo called Chiavennasca and all Valtellina Superiore wines must contain at least 90 percent Chiavennasca. Many are made entirely of Nebbiolo.

Valtellina wines in general are sturdy and structured but not overtly tannic or as robust as their more famous Nebbiolo-based cousins, Barolo and Barbaresco, in the southern Piedmont region. Instead, Valtellina wines impress with their bounteous aromas, rich textures and complex flavors.

Sassella is one of 5 sub-zones in the Valtellina Superiore DOCG that stretch along a valley with an East-to-West configuration. This orientation provides the vineyards on the south-facing slopes with good sun exposure from morning to night that enhances maturation of the grapes while the mountainous slopes protect the vineyards from the cold continental winds.

The Sassella zone takes its name from the gravelly soils (in Italian sassi translates as “small stones”) that characterize the steeply-sloped terrain. The gravelly soil works to the benefit of the vineyards in that the rocks soak up the warmth of the sun during the day and then slowly bequeath it to the grapevines after the sun sets which facilitates the maturation of the grapes.

The 2016 Sassella Valtellina Superiore from the Triacca winery is made entirely of Nebbiolo/Chiavennasca grapes harvested from the estate's steeply-sloped vineyards which is a time-consuming, manual process. The grapes are fermented for 2 weeks in temperature-controlled steel tanks and then aged for 12 months in large-format oak casks and a year in t2016 Sassella Valtellina Superiore from the Triacca winery in Lombardy region of Italyhe bottle prior to release. The wine’s alcohol is a food-friendly 13 percent.

Triacca’s 2016 Sassella Valtellina Superiore is a great introduction for those new to wines from the Valtellina appellation. It has a light garnet color with elegant aromas of small red berries, some floral notes and a light dusting of kitchen spices. It’s dry and medium-bodied with velvety raspberry and cherry flavors, soft tannins and lively acidity. A hint of dried plums gives lift to the long, pleasant finish.

This wine captivates with its richness and finesse and at $20 a bottle hits the sweet spot in most value-oriented consumers’ price range.

The Sassella Valtellina Superiore is an excellent companion for air-dried salted beef or pork served at room temperature, most roast lamb or veal dishes or classic risotto Milanese.


©Richard Marcis
September 8, 2023

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