Balgera 2004 'Grumello' Reserva, Valtellina Superiore, Lombardy, Italy

Balgera 2004 'Grumello' Reserva, Valtellina Superiore, Lombardy, Italy

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Balgera 2004 'Grumello' Reserva, Valtellina Superiore, Lombardy, Italy 

Located just south of Switzerland, in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Balgera winery was started in 1885 by Pietro Balgera. The region of Valtellina is known most for Chaivennesca, the local version of Nebbiolo. Being more northerly, the Nebbiolo of Valtellina is lighter in body and highly perfumed, generally a bit softer than the Nebbiolo found further southwest, in Piedmont. Balgera takes a unique approach in winemaking in the region, aging their wines in barrel for 10+ years before bottling. Today the winery is run by its fourth generation, Paolo Balgera, who took over in 1983 at the young age of 20. 

WINEMAKER: Paolo Balgera 

FARMING: Sustainable 

VARIETIES: Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca) 

TERROIR : Valtellina is a unique east-west valley in Northern Italy near the border with Switzerland. The terraced vineyards are all planted on the north side of the valley so the vines face south. Grumello, one of the five sub-zones of Valtellina Superiore DOCG, is rich in slate and sand with good topsoil, producing a wine that is structurally softer than neighboring villages. Other areas have more granite and need an occasional transplant of soil from local river beds. This region is known for its ‘heroic viticulture’ because the vineyards are super steep with huge terraces, and grapes are picked by hand into small baskets worn on one's back! 

VINIFICATION: Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts in cement.  By law, Valtellina Superiore must be aged for a 24 months (12 in cask), and riserva wines like this bottling are aged three years prior to release. However, Balgera is known for its extended aging; after its fermentation, this wine is transferred to a huge (10,000L) barrel to soften for 10+ years. Once ready for sale, the wine is sent back to cement for a short period then bottled.

From our wine club notes:

Grumello...Grumello...Grumello…..it’s just as fun to drink as it is to say! But what is it? One of the five sub-zones of the Valtellina Superiore DOCG in Lombardy, located in the mountains north of Milan. Here, red wines rule, and none more so than Chiavennasca, the local version of Nebbiolo. We are considerably more north here than in the Langhe or Piedmont, so Nebbiolo tends to be softer and more perfumed than its brawny brothers. This region is known for its ‘heroic viticulture’ because the vineyards are super steep with huge terraces, and grapes are picked by hand into small baskets worn on one's back!

It can be difficult to come by quality producers here, but the ones who do it well, do it really well. Paolo Balgera is at the helm of this family winery that has been here since 1885. Paolo not only creates delicious Chiavennasca from their incredibly steep vineyards but takes his time doing it. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts in cement.  By law, Valtellina Superiore must be aged for 24 months (12 in cask), and riserva wines like this are aged three years prior to release. However, Balgera is known for its extended aging; after its fermentation, this wine is transferred to a massive (10,000 liter!) barrel to soften for 10+ years. Once ready for sale, the wine is sent back to cement for a short period then bottled. This is a bit unheard of, especially in Lombardy. Holding on to your wine for 10 years before bottling it for sale? 


Who are we to question craftsmanship? That’s why we’re able to bring you this awesome, earthy, perfumed red with over 15 years of age on it! This Nebbiolo is medium-bodied with aromas of stewed red cherries, bergamot, dried violets and hints of cigar wrapper. The bright acidity is countered by the gripping tannins on the finish, crying out for something rich and indulgent to match….think Veal Milanese or Lasagna in bechamel! 


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