Dirupi New Releases

Even further north, almost in Switzerland to the north-east of Milan in the far north of Lombardia, is Valtellina – so far off the path beaten by most wine lovers that it receives scant attention but deserves much more. Not least because the style of Valtellina wines is so in tune with what many twenty-first-century wine drinkers seek: fresh, pure, expressive and mineral. The wines also tend usefully to mature rather earlier than Barolo. Oh, and they are cheaper. JANCIS ROBINSON, www.jancisrobinson.com

There are some new stars here who are easily among the very best of Italy and have reached this status in an amazingly short period. Dirupi was founded in 2004 by school friends Pierpaolo Di Franco and Davide Fasolini...Dirupi is managed organically and the approach in the cellar is one of low intervention. All wines are aged in large oak casks except for their Rosso di Valtellina, an exciting wine in its own right, which gets to only see stainless steel. Their Grumello Riserva from a locally famous lieu-dit, called Dossi Salati, is a complex wine with fantastic depth and tightly wound tannins. WALTER SPELLER

Those of you who've been reading my offers over the past 18-odd years will know that in recent times I've grown increasingly enamoured with the wines from Valtellina and more specifically, with those made by the dynamic duo of Davide Fasolini and Pierpaolo Di Franco who make up Dirupi (which means "cliff" owing to the incredibly steeped, terraced plots they work). 

The lifelong friends work 17 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. I always think you effectively get all of the fragrance and ethereal beauty of nebbiolo with a beautiful silken texture. 

Their wines are Valtellina Rosso Ole 2018 and it's all about lightness, fragrance, pliancy and deliciousness. It's got all the Nebbiolo fragrance and flavours in an uncomplicated package. Fermented and aged in stainless steel for the most part. It's quaffable yes, but it's more than that. 

The Valtellina Superiore 2017 is a ripper release. It draws its fruit from most of the 17 plots and steps up a gear in intensity of all the elements: aromatics, depth of flavour and complexity are all ramped up here. Fermented in 20 hectolitre botte.

This year marks the release of three single site, quasi-riserva wines from the most significant sites in two of the region's most important sub-zone of Grumello. They are Dossi Salati and Gess. The single vineyard expressions have been chosen for the unique expression each one has presented the boys over the years they've been blending them into the Superiore. They see a mix of 20 hectolitre and barrique elevage to marry up to the more powerful fruit. These are relatively new to me so it will be fascinating to see these evolve with time in bottle. Only 5 dozen of each for Australia!