Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Valtellina, and other regions for Nebbiolo

Posted by JonDerry, Aug 12, 2013.

I did some random research today, or just internet wine travels that somehow led me to Valtellina, a place that I might have briefly heard about in the past but didn't really resonate. Anyway, it's a very cool climate, with some of the best wines grown in high altitudes that are run by families, not corporations. 

As far as producers go, one that I looked in to and that seems to be one of the most well respected in the region is Ar Pe Pe. I've seen this listed multiple different ways on-line. Wine-Searcher recognizes it as "Ar Pe", but other alternates are ARPEPE, Ar.Pe.Pe., and the list goes on. Virtually impossible to find via west coast US, though I noticed Berkeley Wine Co. has one of their basic wines.

Here's the blog link I found talking about the wines

Incidentally, for domestic Nebbiolo, I'm hearing it doesn't get much better than Palmina out of Santa Barbara. Their basic Nebbiolo goes for about $30, and they have a few single vineyard bottlings all the way up to $70.00


Reply by EMark, Aug 12, 2013.

Thanks, John.  I first heard about Valtelina in an article in, I assume, the local periodical about 30 years ago.  Shortly after reading that article, I actually found a bottle of Inferno in a local wine store.  I did buy it, and, to the best of my recollection, I enjoyed it.  That was the last bottle I've ever seen.

Thanks for the tip on Palmina.  That is certainly useful information.  California Nebbiolo is to Piedmont Nebbiolo like California Pinot Noir is to Burgundy Pinot Noir.  Although I do have to say that I have enjoyed most of the California Nebbiolos that I have had--for that matter, even the Mexican ones.  Pricing on the Palmina sounds fine.

Reply by GregT, Aug 12, 2013.

John - it's a good area to look at.  One of the better ones IMO is Triacca Superiore - ripe but not overdone, great balance, good fruit, sees a bit of oak but not too much, was my house wine for a while but they have importer problems.

And at the other end is stuff like the Conti Sentoli Salis Inferno. The inferno is one of the four subzones of the area - it's warmer than the others but I don't think it's really all that hot to be an inferno. In any event, that wine doesn't do a lot for me - acidic as hell and not a lot of fruit. Sorry emark!

Between those two extremes you have a few if you can find them.  The Ar Pe Pe falls about midway for my taste so I won't pay for it, but if you've not had it, give it a try.

Best thing is though, that the wines are usually in the $20s, which compares favorably with the Palmina. BTW - I agree about the Palmina. Their entire lineup actually, whites and reds are good. Wish more people would do those grapes, which seem so much better suited to CA than some of the French ones.

And while you're looking at Valtellina, don't forget that some producers, like Sandro Fay, do szforzato - it's kind of like Amarone but with Nebbiolo.

Reply by EMark, Aug 13, 2013.

Greg, who knows what I thought was goood in 1985.  ;-)  More than likely, my No. 1 requirement was that it be liquid.  On the other hand, I still look for acid in my wines, today.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 13, 2013.

I'm the heretic about Palmina, although I've only had their dolcetto.  It was ripe without being particularly fruit-driven and over-oaked.  Can't speak to the Nebbiolo.  With all the AM Abbona and Chionetti for under $20, I don't see the value.

I have not had Valtellina, but for my Nebbiolo dollar, I wish that more US stores carried wines from Ghemme.  I happened to meet the assistant somm for Italian wines from Meadowood the other day, and he wasn't even familiar with the region.  I drank a bit of it in Piedmont/Lago Maggiore last year and thought it was stunning.  If you can find it, it can go for about $24 to about $40, depending on whether it's a single vineyard (cru) or not.  Really good stuff.  Truthfully, we are just beginning to get out of the rut of Chianti/Brunello/Barolo/Barbaresco in the US.  There's a lot more from Italy that we don't get, including some really good Pinot Nero, Lagrein, and on and on.  Of course, we're in a rut on French wine, too, but getting better and still far ahead of where we are on Italian wine.  (Only two stores carry one bottling each of Vino Nobile de Montepulciano in SF/The Bay Area--and we have two "Italian wine" specialty stores, supposedly.)

In addition to Palmina and L. A. Cetto, a Mexican producer whose Nebbiolo Emark and I have enjoyed, Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat/Bien Nacido Vineyards grows and makes Nebbiolo.  Clendenen Family Vineyards Bricco Buon Natale Nebbiolo is about $30 at K&L.  I have a bottle of the 2005 and am planning a tasteoff against a 2004 Aldo Conterno and a 2004 Corino.  Any takers?


Reply by EMark, Aug 15, 2013.

Jon, it looks like GDP is on the same page with you on the Palmina Nebbiolo.

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 15, 2013.

Thanks Mark, some very high praise indeed. Amazing how committed they are to the italian varities, even producing multiple whites and a bunch of SVD Nebbiolo. 92 points for the $40 Stolpman seems to be the value play...Greg doesn't give points out very easily so I'm highly curious to try. And that's also a wine with 5+ years on it as a current release.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 16, 2013.

5+years  for a "barolo" is pretty much standard.  Clendenen has only issued 2005 Nebbiolo at the most recent.  Looking at the stuff I have in the basement, the '04 entry level Baroli are just hitting the beginning of a window that should be open for another dozen years. The basic Langhe Nebbiolos from '08 and '09 are at the beginning of their windows and those are declassified because they are made in a more "immediately" approachable style or from grapes that don't stand up to the long aging times of Barolo.  That's the biggest problem with buying Nebbiolo:  I might not live long enough to catch it at the top. 

Still, if GdP gives a Nebbiolo 92 points, that is saying something. 

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 16, 2013.

GdP hope you don't mind me reposting your comment on WB, but thought it was very insightful. This was in answer to the thread titled, So what wine turned you on to Piemonte?

"1978s from Vietti, Marcarini and Aldo Conterno in about 1983. They expanded my conception of the potential of what wine could be, then they screwed with my mind for 12 or14 years while they were closed and I second guessed my epiphany over and over again. I've gotten over that."

While I was in Denver the other week, a friend and I chipped in on an '07 Oddero Barolo that showed very well for us. Now granted, '07 is known as an earlier drinking vintage, but it goes to show these old world wines often have drinkability while young, and there are no real linear equations we can follow as to when to drink. 

Re: Palmina I don't think there's any question that their Neb  is legit. The first I heard of it, which lead to this thread was that it made a short list on a Nebbiolo class for sommellier's put on by a highly respected industry type. Obviously they were looking for diversity, but all the producers were respected. That they're selling '07's as a current release is a good sign they're upholding traditional values. Now, whether they agree with mine or your palate is a different question. I'll try to get on it soon.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 22, 2013.

Don't mind at all. 

Palmina is as good as it gets for Nebbiolo in the new world. Having said that there is no substitute for Nebbiolo from Piedmont or Lombardy. I just was working on an itinerary for a visit to the Valtellina the other day. It had been on my calendar for early September but as you know I've been ill lately so everything is getting moved around and I am searching for the free time to include this in my travels this year. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 22, 2013.

GdP, I hear over and over that Nebbiolo just hasn' t thrived outside those areas of Italy.  Any insghts into why?  Wondering if you have tried the Clendenen stuff.  Oz Clarke has said it's the best thing going outside Italy, but he also has admitted that lots of Nebbiolo didn't do it for him for a long time, and even now there's a lot that is hard to take.  In any  case, I am going to find the Palmina, putting aside my lack of enthusiasm for their dolcetto, and do a blind with a similarly priced Barolo.

JD, Clarke said the Nebbioli d'Alba from 2007 should be at their best at about 5 years, which fits with your experience with the Oddero.  I've got a Bovio Rocchettevino from that year that is supposed to be entering its drinking window this year, so maybe I'll try to duplicate your experience.

Reply by EMark, Aug 22, 2013.

So, here's a question.  Burgundy lovers insist that no New World Pinot Noir can (or will ever) compare to one from Burgundy.  Since I am still looking for that Pinot Noir epiphany and, frankly, hope to experience it on October 26, I mostly shrug at that comment.  However, are we now doing the same thing with Nebbiolo?  I have had a handful of Left Coast Nebbiolos (California pluralization) and a handful of Piedmonts in my life.  So, my sampling has been quite modest, but, I have to say, the two are different.  So, does different mean "not worthy?"  My immediate inclination is to say "I hope not."  My next inclination is to continue the research.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 22, 2013.

Yes, more research.  That's always a good idea. 

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