Isabella Pelizzatti Perego was one of the first people to greet us in Valtellina.
Her family’s history in wine dates back to the 1860s when Isabella’s great-great-grandfather Giovanni founded Pelizzatti winery. But tragedy does not discriminate, and it fell upon this family when Isabella’s grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s. The family had to sell the brand and some vineyards. Her father, Arturo, worked hard to restart the family business. In 1984, he was able to buy back many of their vineyards and regain their cellar in Grumello. The new name for the winery? ArPePe for his initials, Arturo Pelizzatti Perego. (source)
In 2004, the fifth generation of Pelizzatti Perego took the helm.
When you drive through the Valtellina region, at its center near Sondrio, you will find your eye drawn to the Castel Grumello on the hill. Below it, separated by terraces of vines, you find ArPePe.
ArPePe has vineyards in the sub-zones of Sassella, Grumello and Inferno.
Isabella greeted us with Cristina Scarpellini of Tenuta Scercse and Consorzio President Danilo Droccoof Niro Negri. She made everyone feel taken care of and right at home.
As we tasted her wines, she noted that they always want the fruit to be the most important note in the wine. They do long fermentations in wood and find that it keeps the wine more harmonic from the beginning.
Rosso di Valtellina 2020
The first wine that Isabella had us taste was their Rosso di Valtellina 2020. Due to the weather in 2020, this Rosso was almost their entire vintage. They had planned to do their Riserva, but on the 23rd of July that year, a massive hail storm hit the vineyard during the night, so that vintage, they did not make their Crus. Other than the Rosso di Valtellina 2020, they will release only one barrel of Il Pettirosso 2020 in the future.
100% Nebbiolo, this wine was fermented in 5000-liter barrels. It spent 5 months in large format wood and to date has been in bottle 1 year. The fruit for this wine comes from southeast-facing vineyards between 350 and 600 meters.
In addition to notes of red fruits and cherry, I got a note of tangerine, like when you are peeling a tangerine, and you get a squirt of juice at the same time as the oils from the peel are scenting your skin.
Production 93,000 bottles – 13% abv
Grumello Rocco de Piro
Valetellina Superiore DOCG 2017
The next wine was the Grumello Rocco de Piro 2017. The Rocco de Piro is a Valtellina DOCG wine, but they opted not to age up to a Riserva. Made from grapes from their 2 vineyards which total 4.5 hectares, in the Grumello Sub-region, this wine spends 1 year in large format wood and now has 3 years aging in bottle.
Isabella finds that the Grumello vineyards have slightly deeper topsoil than the vineyards in Sassella, where you see more rocks. The Grumello is a bit more generous, rounder, and softer, while the Sassella can be austere with a bit more tension. Isabella thinks of them as brothers and sisters with different personalities, but they are still related.
Sassella Stella Retica
Valtellina Superiore DOCG 2017
We moved on to Sassella Stella Retica 2017. The vineyards for this wine have southeast exposure and sit between 400 and 500 meters above sea level, with vines aging between 50 and 1000 years.
Vinified in the same way as the Grumello Rocco de Piro, the difference is the terroir, and these vineyards are just 1 kilometer apart.
This wine was much for linear and had a lift to it. Even with the lift, the berries notes here came across more dried, with savory undertones.
Production 29,440 bottles – 13.5% abv
Meeting Isabella was one of the highlights of our trip. She acted as a liaison with the Consorzio and, since our visit, has been kind enough to point me in the right direction when I had a question. She gently herded our group of wine writers, checking in with us to be sure that we were doing okay and getting all the information we needed. With Isabella around, I felt at home in Valtellina.
In this valley dominated by wineries owned and run by men, Isabella holds her own quietly but confidently. She and Cristina of Tenuta Scersce were the faces that connected us with this region, and for that, I will be forever grateful. I look forward to an opportunity to return to the region and visit her winery.
More on ArPePe
For more on ArPePe, you can visit their website at https://www.arpepe.com/
They are imported by Skurnik Wines & Spirits and can be found on Wine.com. (You will find links to Wine.com here on our site. If you use the link here on our website, we may receive a small commission, which helps to keep our site going.)
For more on the Valtellina region, visit the Consorzio site at Vini di Valtellina
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
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