Alpine Nebbiolo from the old school

The benchmark for northern Italy's great red grape, Nebbiolo, is always going to be Barolo. It produces its grandest rendition. But Nebbiolo is found all over the north in places less famous, often under another name, yet just as deeply rooted.

Valtellina is so far north it's practically in Switzerland. The vineyards lie on south-facing granite terraces which are a nightmare to work. Doing everything by hand is simply the only option. Partly because of this the wines of ARPEPE, one of the greatest artisan producers, are known for being seriously old-school. They are made gently in traditional old chestnut barrels. Nothing is added or taken away.

These are not wines that try to imitate Barolo - they have their own character which you might call 'Alpine Nebbiolo'. The cool, high altitude vineyards and the simple winemaking produces lighter, high-toned, wild cherry-infused wines. They are the epitome of restraint, balanced and satisfying.

The best introduction to the style is the plainly styled ‘Rosso di Valtellina’. Considering the painstaking way it is made and its sheer quality, this is a wine that offers amazing value for money. From vines that are more than 50 years old and planted 350-400m above sea level, it overdelivers in every way. The superb 2017 has just been released.

Minerally, dusty cranberry and raspberry nose of great appeal with a hint of stalks. Fresh, succulent and elegant and with a very long, vibrant finish.


Walter Speller,

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