Lombardy is situated virtually at the center of the semi-circle of the Alps that enclose Italy to the north. It is bordered to the north by Switzerland, to the west by Piedmont, to the south by Emilia-Romagna and to the east by the Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige.
The region is traversed from one end to the other by the river Po. Its central position and the existence of a large, relatively navigable river have made Lombardy a crossroads of trade and ideas since ancient times.
Traces of the first settlements in Lombardy date back to the Neolithic period. Lombardy has been dominated by a myriad of peoples including the Gauls, Etruscans, Umbrians, Romans, Longobards, Franks, Swabians, Spanish, Austrian and French.
The northern portion of the region is mountainous while the south is flat, part of the great valley of the Po. Winemaking is concentrated in three principal areas: the Valtellina in the province of Sondrio in the north, the Oltrepo Pavese in the province of Pavia in the southwest and the Franciacorta and the hills along the banks of Lake Garda in Brescia in the east.
The Valtellina is a wide valley created by the river Adda which rises in the Swiss Alps to the north of Sondrio. Vines here are cultivated on numerous small properties. It is one of the few areas outside Piedmont where Nebbiolo, known locally as Chiavennasca, grows well.
The Oltrepo Pavese on the border with Piedmont, of which it was a part before the unification of Italy, is a hilly district with an extraordinary production capacity. It is an area noted for its extremely fine whites, many of which serve as the base for outstanding sparkling wines. But full-bodied reds are also made in the Oltrepo.
Many wines are also produced in the province of Brescia. Pinot Nero, Bianco and Grigio as well as Chardonnay grow well in the hilly terrains of the Franciacorta. The area is an avant-garde producer of sparkling wines that have established an international reputation.
THE DOCGS of LOMBARDY
The DOCG for Franciacorta is reserved only for the spumante versions of this wine which have undergone fermentation through the metodo tradizionale or classico, i.e. champenoise fermentation.
The wine must be produced only with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Bianco and/or Pinot Nero grown within the delimited Franciacorta growing area in Lombardy. Franciacorta Saten Spumante is produced with only Chardonnay and/or Pinot Bianco.
Furthermore, a Franciacorta rose` may be produced, however, at least 15%-100% Pinot Nero must be used in its production. The balance may be up to a maximum of 85% Pinot Bianco and/or Chardonnay Additionally, a cremant (lightly sparkling) version of Franciacorta may also be produced but no Pinot Nero may be used in this wine. Aging in the bottle begins February 1st of the year following the harvest.
The wine may be vintage dated. Wine that carries a vintage date and the word Riserva must spend at least 60 months on the lees in the bottle and cannot be sold to the public until at least 67 months following the harvest.
Vintage dated wine without Riserva must age for 30 months in the bottle and may not be consumed until 37 months following the harvest. Non-vintaged wine (white, rose` and Saten) must remain in the bottle a minimum of 18 months and cannot be sold until at least 25 months following the date of the most recent harvest from which grapes have been obtained.
The Valtellina is a large, green, lush area carved out of the mountains of the river Adda, located slightly more than 100 kilometers to the northeast of Milano in the province of Sondrio.
Winemaking has ancient origins in the Valtellina – the vine was cultivated by the Etruscans and the Ligurians, the earliest inhabitants of the region, in the pre-Roman period.
The Superiore district encompasses the hills between Sondrio and Montagna and includes the subzones of Maroggia, Grumello, Inferno, Sassella and Valgella. The wine must be produced with a minimum of 90% Chiavennasca (local name for Nebbiolo) and up to 10% other non-aromatic reds of the zone.
The wine is ruby red, tending to garnet in color with a pleasant and appealing bouquet. Valtellina Superiore wines must be aged for a period of at least two years with a requirement of one year in oak. Wines subjected to three years of aging (at least one in oak) can be labeled Riserva. Aging begins December 1st following the harvest.
Only Valtellina Superiore wines (Maroggia, Grumello, Sassella, Inferno and Valgella) have been elevated to DOCG status. The non-Superiore Valtellina category wines will remain DOC.
Valtellina Superiore wines (with or without the subzone names) may also use the term “Stagafassli” on the label if the wine is bottled in the Confederazione Elvetica (Swiss Confederation.)
SFORZATO or SFURSAT VALTELLINA
Sforzato or Sfursat – is a wine obtained from at least 90% Nebbiolo (also known as Chiavennasca) with a maximum of 10% other authorized non-aromatic red grapes of the zone. The grapes for Sforzato are partially dried and must achieve a minimum natural alcohol of at least 14%. The wine must be aged for a period of at least 20 months, 12 of those in wood. Aging begins as of April 1st of the year following harvest.
The resulting wine is ruby red with garnet reflections. The nose is intense with the perfume of mature fruits and the taste is well balanced, structured and very round.
OLTREPO PAVESE METODO CLASSICO
Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico refers to sparkling wines produced by the champenoise method from grapes grown in the Oltrepo Pavese in Lombardia. The wines may be designated Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico, Metodo Classico Rose`, Metodo Classico Pinot Nero or Metodo Classico Pinot Nero Rose`.
The metodo classico and metodo classico rose` must contain a minimum of 70% Pinot Nero with the balance of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and/or Pinot Bianco up to a maximum of 30%.
The metodo classico Pinot Nero and Pinot Nero Rose` must contain a minimum of 85% Pinot Nero with a maximum of 15% of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and/or Pinot Bianco. If the vintage is shown, the term millesimato may be used.
Non-vintaged Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico must spend a minimum of 15 months on the lees. Vintage dated wines require a minimum of 24 months on the lees. The wine may not be bottled before January 1st following the harvest.
MOSCATO di SCANZO
Is a red wine obtained from a red Moscato (which is partially dried) and grown in the province of Bergamo. The wine has re-emerged from relative obscurity but the earliest mentions are of a coveted and valuable wine dating back to the 14th century.
The wine is intense ruby red in color with cherry reflections. The perfume is delicate yet persistent. The taste is sweet and harmonious with a hint of almond in the finish. The wine is aged for a minimum of two years beginning November 1st.
The Sartori family produces a Pinot Noir from Lombardy/Lombardia.
Sartori Pavia Pinot Noir, IGT – Sartori Pinot Noir is produced with 100% Pinot Noir grapes grown in the delimited Pavia zone in Lombardia. The wine is aged for about 12 months in oak and offers a nose of black cherry jam, cloves and chocolate accompanied by spice notes and vanilla. Sartori Pinot is notably elegant, well-balanced and round, enhanced by good acidity.