Sforzato di Valtellina

Sforzato di Valtellina

46°10' N


9°52' E




about this subregion

Nestled in the majestic alpine landscapes of northern Lombardy lies the renowned wine region of Sforzato di Valtellina, also known as Sfursat di Valtellina DOCG, Sforzato della Valtellina or Lo Sforzato. Steeped in history and marked by its rugged terraced vineyards, this region uniquely captures the spirit of the mountains in every bottle.

At the heart of Sforzato di Valtellina's viticultural prowess is the Nebbiolo grape, locally referred to as "Chiavennasca." This varietal, revered for its depth and complexity, thrives in the region's continental climate, drawing nuances from the cool mountain breezes and the rich, mineral-laden soils.

The crowning achievement of this DOCG is its "Sforzato" or "Sfursat" Rosso wine, a product of an intricate winemaking process. Traditionally, the Nebbiolo grapes are partially dried, concentrating their flavors before fermentation, resulting in wines that are both robust and nuanced. These red wines are a harmonious blend of alpine freshness and the inherent warmth of Nebbiolo, with layers of red fruit, rose petals, and a hint of spice.

Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG stands as a testament to the synergy between nature and man. Here, the formidable alpine environment, when paired with generations of winemaking expertise, produces wines that are a true reflection of their origin, capturing the essence of the mountains and the spirit of Nebbiolo in each sip.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares





Discover Terroir

Nestled in the heart of northern Lombardy, Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG is a realm where viticulture and nature intertwine in the most poetic of dances. The region is characterized by its dramatic alpine landscapes, where jagged peaks pierce the sky and provide a stunning backdrop to the vineyards below.

Stretching along the northern banks of the Adda River, the vineyards of Sforzato di Valtellina cling to steep terraces, some resembling natural amphitheaters, which absorb the sun's rays throughout the day. These terraces, a testament to the labor and dedication of generations of winemakers, are held together by ancient stone walls, each telling tales of the region's rich history.

The valley floor, with its dense forests and gushing streams, contrasts sharply with the terraced vineyards above. The interplay between the high mountainous terrain and the valley creates microclimates that are particularly favorable for the Nebbiolo grape to flourish.

Adding to the region's charm are the rustic stone houses and historical hamlets dotting the landscape, bearing witness to the area's longstanding wine-making heritage. All in all, Sforzato di Valtellina offers a mesmerizing tableau, where nature's grandeur and human tenacity come together, producing wines that truly embody the soul of this enchanting landscape.

Tucked away in northern Lombardy, the climate of Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG is a masterpiece, shaped by its alpine embrace. At its heart, a pronounced continental rhythm beats, bringing with it the warmth of sunny summers, essential for optimal grape ripening, and the cold of snow-kissed winters, granting the vines a well-deserved dormancy.

Yet, it's the protective Alps that truly craft this region's unique climate. Rising majestically, these mountains shield the terraced vineyards from chilling northern winds, ensuring that the bitter cold does not hamper the vines. This protective shield creates a realm where the vines thrive, sheltered from extremes their elevated homes might otherwise expose them to.

The serpentine flow of the Adda River further refines the region's climate. Meandering gracefully through the valley, the river tempers the nightly temperatures and safeguards the vines from early frosts during the pivotal ripening phase. Its presence not only moderates temperatures but also promotes efficient air circulation, keeping humidity and potential vine diseases at bay.

Precipitation in Sforzato di Valtellina finds its rhythm, generously hydrating the land during spring and autumn. These timely showers offer a reprieve from potential summer droughts, ensuring the vines never thirst, while the drier summers intensify flavors within each grape.

Yet, it's the region's intricate topography that adds the finishing touch. The varied altitudes and orientations of the terraces, coupled with the valley's unique dynamics, give birth to a mosaic of microclimates. These pockets of climatic variations lend nuanced distinctions to the grapes, even over short distances.

The diverse soils of Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG offer a captivating study in the region's geological history, profoundly influencing the character and profile of its wines. These soils can be broadly categorized into a few predominant types:

  1. Schist and Slate: Predominantly found in the higher terraced vineyards, these soils have a remarkable ability to retain heat. They're typically rocky, ensuring excellent drainage. The heat retention helps the Nebbiolo grapes achieve optimal ripeness, even in the cooler climate, lending the wine its distinguished minerality.
  2. Alluvial Deposits: Closer to the valley floor, especially near the banks of the Adda River, one can find alluvial soils. Rich in minerals and often interspersed with gravel and sand, these soils contribute to the aromatic complexity of the wines. They provide the vines with a balanced supply of water and nutrients, ensuring robust growth without over-ripening the grapes.
  3. Loam and Clay: In pockets of the region, especially in the gentler slopes, loamy and clayey soils dominate. They have a relatively higher water retention capacity, offering a counterpoint to the predominantly well-draining soils of the region. Wines from these soils often exhibit a richer, fuller body with pronounced fruit characteristics.
  4. Limestone: Though less common than the aforementioned soils, limestone layers contribute significantly to the terroir, especially in parts of the region where they're prevalent. They lend the wine a characteristic chalky note, enhancing its acidity and providing a sharp contrast to the fruity and floral notes typical of Nebbiolo.


In the shadowed terraces of Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG, the main grape is a clone of the renowned Nebbiolo, called "Chiavennasca". These grapes are key to the production of Sforzato di Valtellina wine, as well as others such as Valtellina Rosso. Boasting a deep blue-black hue with skins that carry an almost translucent quality, Chiavennasca grapes are as pleasing to the eye as they are on the palate. Their thin skins, combined with elongated, cylindrical bunches, lend a delicacy to their appearance, hinting at the complexity they hold within.

Venture into a glass of Rosso from this region, and you're greeted with a symphony of aromas and flavors. The initial bouquet is reminiscent of fresh roses and violets, which gracefully transitions into deeper notes of red cherries, ripe strawberries, and hints of dried fruit. Beneath this fruity facade, layers of earthy undertones unfurl, with whispers of tar, tobacco, and a subtle minerality, a nod to the alpine soils from which they originate. On the palate, Nebbiolo presents a delightful paradox – both powerful and delicate, with an acidity and tannin structure that promises longevity. The finish often leaves traces of anise and herbs, making each sip a journey through the terrains and traditions of Sforzato di Valtellina.

The Rosso wines of Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG are a testament to the region's unique alpine terroir and winemaking traditions. These wines, crafted predominantly from a clone of Nebbiolo grapes, locally revered as "Chiavennasca", embody a synthesis of power and elegance. Their composition, a harmonious blend of Nebbiolo with a subtle inclusion of other authorized non-aromatic red grapes, provides a complexity that is both profound and intriguing.

Delving into the glass, the Rosso paints a vivid aromatic tapestry. The predominant Chiavennasca offers a bouquet of fresh roses, tart cherries, and a hint of earthy truffles. Interwoven are subtler notes from the supporting cast of red grapes, bringing in layers of ripe plum and dark berries. A meticulous post-harvest process ensures the wine's excellence: grapes are carefully dried, concentrating their flavors and ensuring a robust potential alcohol level of at least 14%. This dedication to quality extends to the vinification, which commences no earlier than December 1, capturing the essence of the late autumn's bounty. As the wine evolves, it enjoys an aging process of no less than 20 months, with a significant sojourn of 12 months in barrels. This period imbues the Rosso with hints of vanilla, toasted oak, and spice, culminating in a wine that is as layered in flavor as it is in history and craftsmanship.

Rosso wines from Sforzato di Valterllina pair well with a diverse range of foods, from the Bitto Cheese (a local aged cheese) to Bresaola (an air-dried beef, very popular in northern Lombardy).