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Nebbiolo from the Alps, from Valtellina in Lombardy to be exact, practically in Switzerland, where the wines are in every respect lighter and leaner than their better known Nebbiolo cousins in Barolo and Barbaresco or even northern Piedmont. They have their own set of aromas, wild berries, dried raspberries, flint, crushed granite and smoke, with a lively, focused purity from light, mineral infused grapes, some say they’re Pinot-esque. This is down to the poverty of the soil, essentially schist and granite, and the elevation of up to 700 meters above sea level resulting in fruit with intense minerality. The valley runs from Lake Como to the Stelvio Pass, west to east, with all the vineyards planted on the northern slopes with long sunshine days and a mild microclimate that’s almost Mediterranean like.
Located on impressively steep granite terraces which can be traced back to pre-Roman times, now a Unesco World Heritage site, the Perego family have been making wine here since 1860.
What distinguishes the wines of Ar.Pe.Pe. is their focus on long aging and tradition. Everything is worked by hand, with minimum intervention, and the wines only released when the family deem they’re ready for drinking. The wines though have the quality and depth to age gracefully.
There are plots in three specific sites in Sassella, Grumello and Inferno and they decide on the number of wines to vinify with each vintage. Meaning that, from year to year, the range can be quite different but always Nebbiolo and always with incredible results.
Each year they bottle a Rosso di Valtellina, a blend from any of the three sites. In the good vintages ARPEPE makes Valtellina Superiore wines from the Sassella, Grumello and Inferno, that see a longer maceration and up to 30 months in Chestnut barrels followed by time in bottle before being released. In exceptional vintages ARPEPE produces its five “Riserva” wines, wines that deserve both time and attention. Wines that appear pale and light but with a burgundy like elegance, delicate yet full, gentle and ethereal. Age-worthy and a must for any genuine cellar.