Dirupi is the brainchild of Davide Fasolini and Pierpaolo Di Franco; two of the most talented young winemakers in Italy today. Located in the Lombardy region of Valtellina – a sub-Alpine zone just south of the Swiss border – Dirupi farm a staggering 17 tiny terraced vineyards; all at different elevations, aspects and varying vine age. As much as possible the Dirupi boys employ sustainable practices in the vineyard however this isn’t always possible due to the nature of the climate and difficulties inherent in such peculiar vineyards. They started the project in 2004 by renting the 17 sites. Initially they worked Monday to Friday getting the vineyards healthy and then on the weekends they would supplement the lack of income by working in a local cocktail bar!

The main game here is Valtellina Superiore and further to that the nebbiolo grape that makes it tick! At this point its important to point out that nebbiolo from Valtellina is different to its more famous cousin in Barolo and Barbaresco. In Valtellina, the wines hold the same aromatic and colour profiles but the texture is pliant and the wines hold less tannic punch than one would expect from young Barolo. Because of this and the renovation of these amazing old sites by talented producers like Dirupi the wines of Valtellina have become highly sought after in Italian wine circles (most notably with young Barolo producers) and the word is spreading.

The cellars are situated in an amazing old building (circa 1576) in the middle of Ponte di Valtellina. The gorund floor (or old stables) is utilised for fermentation, the cellar below is where the maturation in wood takes place (mostly large Slavonian wood although barriques also feature in some wines) and then the floor below that is the bottle storage and maturation cellar.

Now back to the wines of Dirupi. They make four wines: Valtellina Rosso “Ole”, Valtellina Superiore, Valtelllina Superiore Riserva and Valtellina Sforzato. The final two wines are made in miniscule quality and will be available later this year whereas the first two wines have just arrived.

The Valtellina Rosso is all about lightness, fragrance, pliancy and deliciousness. It’s got all the Nebbiolo fragrance and flavours in an uncomplicated package. Quaffable, yes but it’s more than that. By contrast the Valtellina Superiore steps up a gear in intensity of all the elements: aromatics, depth of flavour and complexity are all ramped up here. The wine is a blend made off all 17 vineyards.

If you love Nebbiolo and enjoy exploring its many variations, I highly recommend these wines.
Oh and check out this little slideshow. Gives you an idea of what I’m banging on about.

Michael McNamara