Although Piedmont gets most of the love, it’s the crisp, Alpine-influenced Nebbiolo from Lombardy’s Valtellina Valley that continues to capture our attention. Here, vines are planted on the south-facing side of the valley, which allows fruit to benefit from ample sunshine and warm days, with significantly cooler nights ensuring that acidity is preserved. The resulting fruit—and in turn, wines—are crisp, fruit-driven, and boast a distinct mountain character that is undeniably Valtellina.
In 2005, Siro Buzzetti founded Terrazzi Alti, a small estate located in the Valtellina subregion of Sassella, which is arguably one of the most compelling areas for cultivating aromatic, high-quality Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo, in the local dialect). His viticulture and vinification practices pay homage to local tradition, with vines planted at incredibly steep altitudes of up to 1,600 feet above sea level. In his early days, Siro started out with just a few plots of vines, and has slowly but surely grown his holdings to about one full hectare. Today, production remains just shy of a few hundred cases.
At Terrazzi Alti (which translates to ‘high terraces’), all vineyard work is done by hand, as is necessary due to the staggering terrain. Siro’s vineyard plots are supported by stone walls and have been formed into terraces along the hillsides, which yield low amounts of very high-quality fruit. Wines from Valtellina—Sasella, specifically—are known for their lighter body, delicate bouquet, and distinct, mineral-laden freshness that is markedly Alpine.
In the cellar, Siro’s wines are fermented with native yeasts and aged for approximately three years in wood casks, followed by an additional time in bottle prior to release. Ethereal, floral driven, and laden with flavors of fresh berries, wild herbs, balsamic, and hints of smoke, his wines offer ample amounts of natural acidity and silky, well-integrated tannins that promise to leave a lasting impression.
As prices for Barolo and Barbaresco continue to skyrocket, it’s producers like Siro who continue to over deliver in terms of quality to price ratio, as well keep our palates salivating for more.