The Valtellina abuts the Italian border with Switzerland and the turbulence of its history centres on its vital importance as a historically strategic route to Alpine passes to the north. A centre for hydro- electric power and famous for the cured meat bresaola, it is also becoming more and more renowned for its nebbiolo-based wines.
Needless to say, its position in the foothills of the Alps mean some of the steepest slopes of any wine region in the world can be found here, and terraces are a common sight. Mamete Prevostini began as a wine producer just after the war when the founder and grandfather of the current owners, the eponymous Mamete Prevostini, began making wines to serve to the customers of his Ristorante Crotasc not far from Lake Como. He made the wines from the local nebbiolo and stored it in natural caves or crotto beneath the vineyards.
Today his grandson and namesake Mamete is in charge and has fundamentally revamped the winemaking approach, to the extent of closing down for eight years between 1987 and 1995 to make root and branch changes. This is now a thoroughly modern business with cellars, completed in 2013, that are carbon neutral and equipped with a panoply of modern equipment. The 8.5 hectares of south-facing vineyard sit at 400 metres altitude above the town of Sondrio at San Lorenzo in the heart of the Sassella DOCG. The wines are 100% nebbiolo (here known as chiavanesca), less full-bodied than their cousins from Barolo to the south, but wonderfully fragrant and silky. The grapes undergo only 8 days fermentation in stainless-steel tanks and then spend 12 months in oak before bottling. These are wines of great charm from a little known but very beautiful part of Italy and should you find yourself there the family owned a well-known restaurant.