Last week’s Italian extravaganza of wines included some wines from the Valtellina in Lombardy, particularly this one from Nino Negri. I got about 10 text messages from a friend who lives in the Valtellina last week asking me if I had seen that Eric Asimov had finally taken note of Valtellina. Yes I had read the article. Funny that even in Sondrio, what the New York Times writes about, is what they have their minds on. That said, I actually had first visited the Valtellina with the person who texted me over 15 years ago. His family has a house there and we went to visit and tasted wines along the way. I loved the wines from Sandro Fay I remember and a few others. One of the famous names forever from that region though is Nino Negri. Last week I just had the pleasure of tasting his Sfursat 5 Stelle from 2011 which won a “Tre Bicchieri” award. This 100% Nebbiolo based wine is made only in select years. The grapes are dried for three months and the wine ages for 18 months in new French oak barriques and then a further six months in the bottle. The wines are made by winemaker Casimiro Maule who has worked at the winery since the 1970s. I find that Sfursat, like Amarone, is an acquired taste. My friend who was tasting with me was quite surprised at this version of Nebbiolo which locally is called Chiavennasca. Apparently, according to their website, Nino Negri was the first winery to produce a Sfursat also called a Sforzato. It was a big, rich, complex and layered wine with red fruit, pencil shavings, tobacco and spice notes. It also had great acidity. Infact the acidity, in my view, due to the elevation of the vineyards, enables these concentrated wines to be imbibed with slightly lighter food than what an Amarone requires. Worth learning to pronounce, try wines from the Valtellina, Sfursat and others, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.