2020 Sandro Fay, Valtellina Superiore DOCG “Il Glicine” Lombardy, Italy.
Another new producer to me, Sandro Fay, is from the Valtellina region and does a full selection of Nebbiolo based wines, with this Il Glicine Superiore being an excellent example and the one I got my hands on first, which impressed me with its elagant class, depth and elegant array of pure Nebbiolo fruit and mineral charms. I’m a big fan of Valtellina and its Nebbiolo, that the locals call Chiavennasca, and I’m always excited to try the wines from here, especially from the Cru Villages, which are mainly the Grumello, Sassella and Inferno sites, as well as the rare Sforzato, an Amarone style version, but that said this Sandro Fay, with its lovely aromatics and almost Barbaresco like personality is fabulous stuff. I found this wine to have a medium to full bodied palate and while youthful, very silken in texture with mix of red fruit and savory influences in the mouth revolving around brandied cherry, damson plum, spiced raspberry and earthy mulberry fruits, along with pipe tobacco, a hint of leather, crushed granite, licorice, rose petals, orange peel and tangy herbs. Everything comes together beautifully here and even with its concentration and underlying tannic structure it feels heavenly light and lingers on and on, this is wine that that never puts a food wrong and makes for an exciting companion to a long leisurely meal, where it can entertain and reveal all of its complexity. The Sandro Fay winery, originally founded in 1973, sustainably farms 15 hectares in the Valtellina region of Lombardy, with vineyards that are located throughout the picturesque terraced hillsides that seemingly climb all the way up to the Alps. The wines of Sandro Fay, each of which is uniquely distinct are influenced, as the winery says, by the effects of altitude, soils and exposure of the parcels. This dark ruby and brick hued Il Glicine comes from the sandy soils of the Sassella sub-zone, up at 350 Meters, in the commune of Sondrio and was made with fermentation in stainless steel tank, after which it was aged for 12 months in a combination of larger wood casks, usually some 30HL and 500L oak barrels.

The remote Valtellina region, as mentioned in my prior notes, is a high Alpine valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland and renown for its mountain Nebbiolo wines, which have really gained worldwide attention in recent times, even though this area has flourished since Roman times. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the Valtellina region belonged to what was know as the Three Leagues (the “Grey Leagues”), which was then a mutual-defense zone that was independent of Switzerland, but was part the easternmost Swiss Canton of Graubünden. This remote area in which German, Romansh, Lombard and Italian languages are all spoken, the region became known variously as Veltlin, or Westtirol (West Tyrol) in the 1800s, but now proudly Italian. Interestingly, because of Valtellina’s remote location and easy to defend terrain, during the last months of World War II, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and other diehard fascist leaders of the Italian Social Republic (RSI) proposed making a “last stand” against the advancing Allied forces in the Valtellina, but their plans never got a chance to came into being and the area became much more well known for its wine culture. As noted, In Valtellina, the wines are mostly made from Chiavennasca (the local name of Nebbiolo), along with some percentage other local varieties such as Rossola Nera of which is permitted up to 20% in the DOC and just 10% for the DOCG bottlings like this one. Grapes, by local rules must be small yields for the utmost quality and the finished wines have to be aged for at least 24 months prior to their release or three 3 years if labeled a Riserva bottling, also they need to be at least 11% natural alcohol. The yields for the DOCG wines are restricted as well to promote concentration, with requirements of a minimum alcohol level for the DOCG wine at 12%, with this wine seeing 14% natural alcohol. Again, as mentioned before, Valtellina is a great place to find distinctive Nebbiolo and I highly recommend looking for this one from Sandro Fay. I will be following these Sandro Fay wines and am excited to explore their full range in the near future!
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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