This week’s wine of the week is the Valcalepio Bianco from Cantina Bergamasca from Bergamo. I visited the winery a few years ago during the summer as they were part of the wines I served during a presentation on Lombardy for the Society of Wine Educators.
Bergamo is a wonderful jewel of a city, with a Citta Alta and a Citta Bassa. n addition to my love of wine, food and all things Italian, there is almost nothing in the world that makes my heart sing as much as the architectural and artistic delights that abound throughout Italy. In fact, my initial move to Italy was to become a gold leaf restorer but that is a story for another day. I was reminded of the beauty of Bergamo today by this post on Drinkitalian.com, a relatively new website dedicated to the Italian liquid lifestyle.
Valcalepio is the name of the wine region in this part of Lombardy. It is surrounded by mountains to the North and Po river plain to the South. The vineyards lie in a hilly area on the right bank of river Oglio. They have been making wine here since the Romans. The whole area is about 60 km and extends from
Lake Como to Lake Iseo. There are about 300 – 400 ha of vines, with some at 600 meters above sea level.
Local grape varieties Marzemino, Groppello were replaced by French grapes in the last one hundred years. There are two growing areas, one with clay/chalk east of Bergamo, and one with schist-clay soils to the north west of the city. Colleoni DOC is a denomination named after Bartolomeo Colleoni, a local warlord in Middle Ages, while Valcalepio has been a DOC wine since 1974. They make wines labeled Valcalepio Rosso, Valcalepio Bianco, Colleoni DOC and Bergamasca IGT.
I first learned about the Cantina Bergamasca in 2010 at Vinitaly. Founded in 1957, they started producing wines in 1960. Today they have 150 members who together own 160 ha of vineyards. The vineyards have a South-South west exposition and are located on
clay-chalk soils with good diurnal temperature changes. While they continue to use the traditional Pergola trellising system, they also use both guyot and spurred cordon as well. The winery makes three lines of wines: Valcalepio DOC, Terre del Colleoni DOC and Bergamasca IGT. Consumption is mostly domestic with some export.
The Valcalepio bianco is made with 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco, 30% Pinot Grigio. The grapes are handpicked. The wines ferment in stainless steel and stay on the lees for a period. It spends three months in the bottle before release. With alcohol at 12%, this wine works great both as an aperitif or with a light first course or salad and fish. I liked it’s citrus aromas and lemony finish. I also liked the texture of this wine and the price can’t be beat, around $15.