It’s not an evil word, although I hadn’t heard it until last week. Sforzato di Valtellina is a DOCG in a lush green valley northeast of Milan. They grow Nebbiolo grapes (my all time favourite varietal!!) to a higher level of ripeness, and let them wither before they enter the winemaking process. One of these wines made its way to the LCBO earlier this year, and at the recommendation of one of the Sommeliers at Jamie Kennedy’s Wine Bar, I picked one up.
Crimson red with a cooked salmon looking kind of miniscus. I broke out the big ass glass for this one (a riedel sommelier grand cru burgundy glass I use for barolos), and the nose is a little closed. Tea-like herbal aromas, slightly sweet, leather, cedar, old pipe tobacco smoke. Just a hint of cherry, and some earthiness that some would likely call truffle. I’ve never smelled a truffle so I’m not sure. It’s enough to get me excited. The hint of great nebbiolo, plus some elements I wouldn’t normally smell like tobacco.
The first thing I notice is the silky texture – literally like crimson liquid silk sliding over my palate. I notice the expected elements of nebbiolo first – black tea, black cherry, blackberry, some anise and licorice. The transition to midpalate gives me a big blast of licorice and my tannic friends show up. Nebbiolo is always big in tannins. In this one, the tannins slowly sneak up on you in the midpalate and then they are there. The tannins have an elegant quality to them, refined and begging for a little pecorino. The finish is long and layered – cherry, blackberry, some of that sweet tobacco kind of flavours, with a lingering licorice flavour at the back of my palate. I am in love with this wine. It feels wrong to say that – this is definitely a masculine wine. He’s suave and refined, layered, complex and elegant, but he’s manly. Flavours are there firm, bold and unapologetic. It’s a good thing too, there is nothing to apologize for. For the price, this is an unbelievable value. I’ve had barolos for twice the price with half the interest. It’s a different experience to be sure, but it’s definitely nebbiolo. Now I know what a Sfursat is, and I am loving it. Get ’em while you can!!