Vinitaly. Day #2, Friday April, 8, 2011 at 12:06. The sun is beating down on Verona. Mamete Prevostini has been placed on the 2nd floor of the Palexpo hall and the air condition is finished singing. Stressed-up Italian wine journalists are aimlessly moving around the hall and the air is thicker than polenta pudding. If the jacket is kept on, it sure will have to stay there the rest of the day. The sweat stains on shirts in my surroundings are the size of South Italian Mortadellas.
Mamete Prevostini is located in the valley of Valtellina not far from Lago di Como in Lombardy bordering on Switzerland. 160,000 bottles are produced from 18 hectares of vineyards. The area is fairly difficult to cultivate with steep slopes and terraces. It is not that unlike Mosel, but these are certainly more mountainous environments. Adjacent plots will most likely have different character.
The reds are exclusively made from Nebbiolo. A comparison with the more famous wine region of Piemonte is thus unavoidable, and in particular with the Piemontese majesties Barolo and Barbaresco. A common generalization holds that Barolo is the more austere and tannic of the two, while Barbaresco has a lighter body with less structure but in return offers a more approachable wine, and the Nebbiolo based wines of Prevostini are closer to the Barbarescos.
We sampled all their wines but the Passito. Every one of them will be discussed in the following apart from said Passito and their single white and rosé wine. However, we start with a glass of white followed by a glass of rosé. These are nice wines and primarily used by us to kick some sense into our taste buds. The draw card of Prevostini is certainly the reds.
First up is the 2009 Botonero IGT Rosso matured 6 months in steel tank. This is a young and fresh wine with good acidity that should be drunk chilled due to its freshness. Notes of red berries, in particular strawberries. Possibly, the producer would not agree, but this very much resembles a Pinot noir (in a good sense). A nice wine to be drunk in the summer, at least if you are located in Sweden like me. Prevostini proceeds by pouring a 2009 Santa Rita Rosso di Valtellina (DOC) stored another couple of months in inox. This is of course similar to the Botonero but has a slightly bigger body. This should also be consumed chilled to be at its best. These wines will most certainly match well with lighter fish courses. They are both macerated for 5 days, which explains their light bodies.
The third wine is the 2008 Grumello Valtellina Superiore (DOCG). Maceration is now 8 days followed by a year in oak and 8 months in the bottle. One can sense different notes on this wine, even though it has a very pleasant smell of strawberries. There is a slight note of violets and tobacco. This is a medium-bodied wine with nice acidity.
These characteristics are further intensified with the fourth and fifth wines: 2008 Sassella Valtellina Superiore (DOCG) and 2008 Inferno Valtellina Superiore (DOCG), respectively. In the latter, time of maceration has been increased to 12 days. The process is otherwise the same as the Grumello. On the nose, darker fruits, tar and tobacco are present. On the palette, there are fresh herbs, minerals and licorice. These are simply more complex than the Grumello even though the differences should not be exaggerated given that the Grumello too is a DOCG. Up until now, the Inferno is probably the only wine that I would have placed in Piemonte in a blind tasting. Of course, the differences are in themselves not surprising; the terroir in Valtellina is different, and the Nebbiolo clone used is probably also a different one.
The sixth wine presented is in my opinion the finest of the tasting: 2007 Sommarovina (DOCG Sassella). On the skins for 15 days, a year on oak and 10 months in bottle. This is more austere, tannic and different in texture from the previous wines. Balanced with well-integrated tannins. Tobacco, licorice, minerals and fresh herbs. This is a terrific wine that should score over 90 points.
Thereafter, a 2006 Riserva Valtellina Superiore (DOCG) is served. Maceration lasts for 18 days followed by oak maturation for 24 months and settlement in bottle for another year. After all, this is a Riserva. Very smooth, elegant and balanced. The roughness of the Sommarovina is rounded off. There are stills notes of licorice and tobacco and now also dried fruits. I could definitely stand drinking this at least once a week…
Wine no. 8 is the only wine in the tasting which is a slight disappointment, perhaps because of the expectations that are continuously raised during the tasting. 2008 Corte di Cama Sforzato di Valtellina (DOCG) is a wine made with the appassimento technique, that is the grapes have been picked and put in small wooden boxes for drying until beginning of December. This is a wine difficult to pinpoint. Shiraz from South Africa? Cabernet Sauvignon from California? Grenache from the South of France. This is by no means a bad wine, but not as full of character as the previously tasted. Perhaps the time of drying the grapes is too short which results in a “half” Sforzato.
Finally, a 2008 Albareda Sforzato di Valtellina (DOCG) is poured and this is something else. The grapes are put to dry until the end of January before 20 days of maceration, oak maturation for 18 months and bottle maturing for 10 months. This is really good. A comparison with Amarone della Valpolicella is of course natural. Notes of dried fruit, raisins and chocolate are present in the Albareda as in your typical Amarone. Personally, I would generally regard the Albareda as a more balanced wine. I do not now the level of residual sugar, but this is certainly a Nebbiolo and notes of flowers and tar are present. Very interesting wine.
There is a clear line of progression in the wines of Prevostini, from the inox-maturated via oak to the appassimento wines. It is impressing to have so much character in a range of wine that is comparatively wide.
I’d love to see these wines in Sweden.