Sforzato di Valtellina
Sforzato or Sfursat di Valtellina is, together with Amarone della Valpolicella, one of the rare Italian red and dry passito wines . It is the highest example among the wines of Valtellina, in Sondrio province, Lombardia, a beautiful Alpine valley crossed by the Adda river. Here, the so-called heroic wine-production is born. Vineyards are dislocated on drop offs terraced by old generations of farmers. They dug mountains, by hand or with the only help of donkeys, and built up dry-stone walls that lasted until today. It is not possible to enter these small terraces with agricultural machines and grapes have to be picked up by hand and carried on the shoulders on narrow paths and steep slopes. The atmosphere surrounding the visitor is incredible. Among wonderful mountains, attracting skiers and mountaineers, living traditions can be found in products and dishes of the ancient poor cooking. The Bresaola della Valtellina DOP, the cheeses Bitto and Casera DOP , the pasta called Pizzoccheri and apples are some examples of the food and passion patrimony of these lands.
The term “Sforzato” literally “Forced”, comes from the action of "forcing" the ripening of grapes, extending it after the harvest, with the grapes withering, thus concentrating the sugar and developing peculiar tastes in the grapes. During the harvest, only the best grapes of the Nebbiolo vine, locally called Chiavennasca, are selected and gently picked by hand to produce the Sforzato. Transported in suitable dry and aired rooms called "Fruttai", the grapes are laid down on racks, where they are left for withering for 110 days. At the end of January, the cold and dry mountain wind has finished its job and the grapes have lost 40% of their weight and are ready for grinding and fermenting. After 2 years of ripening and refining between barrel and bottle, finally this wonderful wine has its birth, it can reach 15/16% alcohol by volume. The colour is deep ruby red with garnet shimmers, the scents are amazingly intense and wide, with hints of ripe fruits and jam, prunes and cherries in alcohol. In the mouth it is warm and dry, with great softness and structure, very persistent. Try it with important dishes of red meat and furred game. But, given the strong character of the Sforzato, its best vocation is surely as meditation wine, together with bits of seasoned Bitto DOP cheese.