Why is this Wine so Yummy?
The Valtellina Superiore range from Ar.pe.pe is more immediately approachable than the Riserva range (despite the Riservas being some 6 years older). The Riservas just require more time in the glass to open up. Indeed they are often better on the second or third day after opening.
For the first time, I had the pleasure of devouring a few wines from Ar.pe.pe earlier this year. These are vital, alive wines of grace and sophistication. Drinking them over 2-3 days revealed new, aromas and flavours with every sniff and mouthful.
Chiavennasca is a synonym for Nebbiolo. The name used in Valtellina for the variety.
From the Winery
The pettirosso (robin redbreast) can be found everywhere in the woods that now look down on the Valtellina, which was once under vine far higher up. Robins rarely enter the cellar, but that day one came in and alighted on an old wooden barrel, as if warning us of something. A few days later, while she was tasting the wine, Isabella noticed there was a slight leak from one of the acacia staves.
The wine appeared to be ready for bottling, but the barrel unfortunately needed replacing. There wasn’t enough to warrant a new label so she and Emanuele chose a few barrels of that ’97 – the most mature – and it became Il Pettirosso.
Arturo designed the first labels and so, to continue the family tradition, Isabella asked her husband Enrico to do it, in view of the success of the first: the Rosso di Valtellina.
On some special evenings, Il Pettirosso comes to dinner on the terraces above Sondrio, chirping merrily. Only in the case of some vintages, our cellar tastings suggest that we make a Valtellina Superiore as the unanimous expression of the three central areas of the DOCG.
The maceration and ageing are decided on the spot, almost like an actor improvising the plot of a play. It seems that the plot written by Arturo provides the perfect ground for building up the wines of tomorrow.
Vineyard with grass – Sout Exposure Altitude 400/550 m
Serve at 15°C in a Nebbiolo glass
In 1984, Arturo Pelizzatti Perego, bolstered by the experience gained in his father’s and grandfather’s firm, decided to create ARPEPE. His aim was to realize the full potential of the unique Valtellina terroir with all the pride and determination required for such an ambitious goal. To do so, Arturo started producing long-ageing Nebbiolo wines according to the rules of the oldest traditions.
The two video’s, the first in Italian with the family, and, then of the 2017 Vintage will give you a sense of the extreme environment and dedication taken to make these wines. Beyond that just try them!
Today, Isabella (winemaker), Emanuele and Guido Pelizzatti Perego continue their father’s work as the fifth generation of winemakers and growers. In just a few years, thanks to careful technological innovations and the choice of a young and passionate team, Arturo’s dream has come true: his rare wines are once again a major point of reference on the national and international wine scene.
Nebbiolo, pronounced NEH-bee-oh-low, is such a unique variety. The name is derived from the Italian word Nebbia meaning fog. Two theories for the name exist. The first that it refers to the fog that the vineyards of the Langhe are often immersed in. Second that the natural bloom that covers the grapes gives them a foggy appearance. Given the latter applies to most red grapes I prefer the former! There are 4 main clones of which Nebbiolo Lampia dominates over Nebbiolo Michet, Rosé (now proven to be a different variety), and, Bolla.
Where is it grown?
Southern central and north Piemonte: Langhe including Verduno, Roero, Ast, Carema, Biella, Novara and Vercelli. It is also grown in the lower parts of the Valle d’Aosta where it is known as Picotendroi, and, Valtellina in Lombardy where it is known as Chiavennasca, among others.
What does it taste like?
The ultimate case of not judging a book by its cover, Nebbiolo, at first appears pale in colour, old wines can have the appearance of rusty tap water.
Then you smell it! The aroma of most red wines is dominated by fruit characters. In contrast, Nebbiolo’s aroma is typically a mix of complex secondary aromas, earthy, tarry, spice, rose, citrus peel, woody herbs like rosemary, liquorice, phenol, dark chocolate, tobacco, truffles, leather, and, dark cherry fruit, often more evident on the palate. You’ll see this difference immediately by comparing it two the other two main Piedmontese varieties Barbera and Dolcetto.
Good Nebbiolo has a core of fruit running the length of your tongue, along with layers of those same secondary characters. Nebbiolo’s grape tannins give it a distinct texture, that for those who have not tried it before can seem hard, and, unyielding. Look for the quality and depth of tannin.
Achieving well balance tannin, alcohol, and, acidity makes for great Nebbiolo.
More than most other Italian wines, Nebbiolo, demands food to be at it’s best. A little fat and salt, enhance the texture and bring out the flavours.
Nebbiolo from Valtellina tends to be more feminine, tannin management more critical during the winemaking process. Well managed vineyards produce wines with a great core of vibrant fruit and fine texture.
The Ar.Pe.Pe Vintages
Given the extreme nature of the vineyards and the climate in Valtellina, all wines are not made every year. It appears that when the DOCG Riservas are made no DOCG Superiore is made. There are years when neither DOCG is made and only the DOC Rosso di Valtellina is produced.
The Vintage chart below shows just how long we have to wait between vintages of Superiore and Riserva!
Where in the World is Ar.Pe.Pe?
Piedmont is not the only Italian region to produce Nebbiolo! Valtellina Superiore is a thin horizontal strip in the very north of Italy above Milan.
Ar.Pe.Pe’s vineyards cover the Sassella, Grumello and Inferno sub-regions. Sondrio, Valtellina’s largest town is in the middle, Sassella the orange area to the left, Grumello the lime to the right and Inferno the burnt red just past Grumello.