Unterortl of Alto Adige and Chiavennasca of Valtellina

I’ve been less active here the past couple of months but it’s not because I haven’t thinking about, drinking, and writing about wine. Aside from overcoming some family emergencies and crises, I’ve been working on some other projects.

Earlier this month I finished an article about an artisan winery called Unterortl, for the Alto Adige USA website. Unterortl is special because the owners, Martin and Gisela Aurich, are independent growers and wine makers in a place where so many wineries are designed as coops with hundreds of growers providing fruit to one winery. Liquid picnic!Unterortl RieslingBut what really makes Unterortl most memorable is their unique location on the beautiful slopes of Castel Juval. They grow over ten varieties of grapes on four hectares of steep terrain and also produce amazingly pure grappa and aquavitae.

Panorama of the Val Venosta from Unterortl's vineyards

Unterortl Cantina

Unterortl tasting

Aside from that, I currently am working on an article about the majestic region of Valtellina in the northern Italian Alps. Valtellina is a valley that runs east to west right near the border of Italy and Switzerland. Painted in Waterlogue

Fay vineyardsThey specialize in Nebbiolo (locally called Chiavennasca); it grows even at elevations up to 3,000 feet!

Painted in WaterlogueOne of their more popular styles (globally anyway) is called, sforzato, which is like an Alpine Amarone but made with Nebbiolo.

Chiavennasca drying for sforzato

Valtellina produces some of the freshest and most elegant Nebbiolo wines in the entire world. Look for my article in the kick-off issue of The (new) SOMM Journal, coming out in June.

Nino Negri barrel room


I’ll be back on here soon with more about red wines from southern Italy, the wild Roero region of Piemonte, and more … depending on where and when the inspiration comes!

As they’d say in Italy, “A presto!” (“See you soon!”)

PS – The images you see here are from photos from each of the above mentioned projects. For fun, I picked out a few and enhanced them with a photo program called Waterlogue. If I had more time, I would be painting them for real!

Apples in Valtellina

† Trivia: Actually sforzato comes from the contraction for “subito forzando,” suddenly with force, (source) and is probably most commonly known as an opera term for making a strong sudden accent on a note (or chord, or drum hit, etc).

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