Dirupi New Arrivals - The Simply Beautiful Nebbiolo of Valtellina / Nebbiolo
It’s always a good day (week, month) when new releases from Valtellina’s Dirupi hit the deck. The dynamic duo of Davide Fasolini and Pierpaolo Di Franco who make up Dirupi (or “cliff” owing to the steep terraced plots they work) are two of the most exciting producers to come out of this zone in the last 50 years. They farm 17 plus sites across the sub-zones of Valtellina (Grumello, Inferno, Sondrio, Montagna, Poggiridenti) and when I say sites, don’t think large acreage. In some cases, the plots are no bigger than a decent lounge room! The steepness and micro-nature of these vineyards dictates that the farming is hyper-intensive, by-hand and low-yield viticulture. It’s not surprising then that so many vineyards had been abandoned in the recent past; it was just too labour intensive without the return on effort. Thankfully there are people in the wine world like the Dirupi boys, who recognise the value and uniqueness of their region and with youthful enthusiasm have renovated every one of those 17 sites and are now producing lilting and evocative Nebbiolo or Chiavennasca as it is known in Valtellina.
Each plot is vinified separately with maceration of up to 30 days, fermentation is in stainless steel and ageing is in a mix of larger 20 hectolitre botte and smaller format barrique. Stylistically, it’s very important to point out that Nebbiolo from the higher altitude climes of Valtellina is a different animal to that farmed and produced in Piemonte. Here, the emphasis is on elegance, fragrance, filigree detail. They are lighter in structure than the more foreboding buttressing you find in Barolo and Barbareco but the different voice they bring to the “Nebbiolo conversation” is something you must get to know if you love Nebbiolo.
Their wines are Valtellina Rosso Ole 2017 and it’s 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 2015 is one we’ve been waiting for as the vintage is a beauty for the Dirupi boys and I think this is one of the best wines they have made in recent years. It 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. Simply cracking wine.
The final arrival is the welcome return of the Valtellina Superiore Riserva 2014. This wine is sourced from one single site planted in the 1930s and miniscule amounts are made in years where they think the quality warrants a riserva bottling. This wine, like several of its predecessors was awarded the coveted tre bicchierie. Only 120 bottles made it to Australia. I highly recommend it.
If you love Nebbiolo and enjoy exploring its many variations, I strongly recommend these wines.
In character the wines often have pale ruby colour (the grape has low pigment), complex aromatics ranging from rose petal, fennel, raspberry, plum and mineral (most notably iron). Despite its feminine aromatics the wines at their best house tremendous intensity and depth and persistent tannins seeing them age for decades under correct cellaring conditions.
It's also now being successfully grown in other parts of the world including New Zealand, California and Australia. In the latter case, the best results are coming from the Adelaide Hills, King Valley and Heathcote.