Valtellina is a fascinating land, ideal for those who enjoy places that are unpretentious, in some ways heroic, where to indulge in rustic dishes like the pizzoccheri and the sciatt, accompanied by well-structured reds. A place to stroll up and down the Via dei Terrazzamenti, with that whiff of air blowing in from the high, snow-capped mountains, where every patch of land, forcefully subtracted from the mountain for the cultivation of vines, is a tangible sign of human perseverance and hard work.
Right here, between the Bassa and Media Valtellina (300-700 m a.s.l.), is where the 70 km cycle path from Morbegno to Tirano crosses the wine production of the area.
Valtellina wines: land of reds, and more
We can say right away that the red wine wins easily in Valtellina, even if the novelty of recent years, a trend that would have been impossible to imagine even twenty years ago, is the opening by some visionary winegrowers towards the production of different wines, such as macerated whites, the so-called Orange Wines, and sparkling wines. They are still a minority to be protected like the WWF’s famous panda, but they are unquestionably an alternative in a mountainous land, where change is not easy for a thousand reasons.
Therefore, the local champions, as famous as the national team’s striker, are the Sfurzat Docg and the Valtellina Superiore Docg. Sforzato is a red wine made from grapes fermented on mats, with a dry flavour, a garnet colour and aromas of flowers and ripe fruit, that we recommend pairing with a cheese like Bitto and with game.
Valtellina Superiore Docg has different features according to its production sub-zones: Maroggia, Sassella, Grumello, Inferno and Valgella. While the former, Maroggia, is a wine of good complexity, Sassella has more body and an excellent suitability for ageing, while Grumello often expresses itself with great elegance, and is excellent with the sciatt. Inferno is generally more austere and slightly tannic, ideal with furry game, while Valgella, with the fresh floral notes, can also be appreciated when the wine is young with pizzoccheri and salumi.
Touring wine cellars
Whether on foot or by mountain bike, any excuse is good to stop and discover the local flavours, visiting one of the many wineries.
As part of a mini food and wine tour of a couple of days, along the terraced cycle path, head to Tenuta Triacca in the Bianzone area, where visitors can also sample tasty menus paired with their wines (don’t miss their Grumello Valtellina Superiore Docg! ), or even the Cantina Caven Camuna, where there is also the ‘Caven Archaeological Trail’ on the remains of the rocky tracks, or the Cantina Plozza in Tirano, the village where the legendary Bernina red train starts its journey taking you all the way to St. Moritz.
And if you would like to savour the experience but there is not enough time for a scenic trip, we suggest you go to the La Grazia winery, also in Tirano, instead. Here you can enjoy a tasting of (well, well!) sparkling wines from Valtellina, right inside one of the original Bernina Express wagons. Enjoy the tasting!