Oh, Valtellina!

Wine is made in some very unexpected places, sometimes with lackluster results (islands in Lake Erie) and other times with wondrous effect.  The Valtellina region is one of the latter.  Tucked at the feet of the Alps in the borderlands between Italy and Switzerland just north and east of Lake Como, the area is home to steep hillside vineyards and ridiculously beautiful vistas.  When the world opens back up after quarantine, this is going to be on my short list.

While many alpine vineyards are planted to white varieties like pinot blanc, riesling, and so on, the majority of wine grapes grown here are not only red, but nebbiolo. And in conrtast to nebbiolo famously grown in Piedmont, the steep slopes, higher altitude, and climate in Valetllina yield a gentler, lighter wine.  If the one below is any indication of what this region has to offer, I'd recommend experimentation with whatever few bottles from the area you can lay your hands on.

2016 Sandro Fay Valtellina Rosso Tei $15
Weighing in at just 12%, this fleet-footed nebbiolo bears little resemblance to Barolo or Barbaresco.  Instead, its light body channels clear-eyed acidity and an easy going, food-friendly mouth of tart berries.  This is the winery's entry level red, which piques my curiosity about their other bottlings - and other wines from this region.  Definitely a repeat buy.