Veltliner - fine wines from northern Italy
Veltlin wines have an eventful history: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, wine-making was an important part of the local economy, until a drop in demand at the end of the last century. But these wines from the sunny Alpine valleys of northern Italy are now in demand again, especially in neighbouring Switzerland.
Vineyards are an omnipresent part of the landscape: 2,500 kilometres of dry-stone walls criss-cross this steep wine terraces in the valley, giving character to the countryside. The people of Veltlin knew long ago why the vines are planted on the higher slopes, rather than in the valley below: the sunlight (1,900 hours a year) falling on the vine terraces is similar to that in parts of southern Italy. The vines of Veltlin continue to thrive at altitudes of up to 700 metres, where they benefit from abundant sun and mineral-rich granite soil.
The Swiss were important buyers of these sun-drenched wines from the start. From the 16th to the end of the 18th century, Veltlin was actually part of Switzerland. Up until 1797, this Alpine valley to the south of Puschlav belonged to Graubünden. Even after separation, the local economy of Veltlin continued to depend on its neighbour. 66 % of the wine harvest ended up in Swiss barrels. Transport was by pack mule, and then on the wagons of the Bernina Railway.
«Veltlin wines are both elegant and complex.»Giovanni Triacca, wine grower
In the 1980s, Veltlin suffered a crisis, as sales of bottled wine began to displace those of wines, like Veltlin, that normally came in barrels. Veltlin wine is now enjoying a renaissance however, with experts predicting a solid future for traditional winegrowing regions. This is thanks partly to younger growers, who have introduced new types of grape to the region.Complementing the old, long-established wineries, they form a balanced mix based on 800 hectares of new vineyards. Renowned firms include La Gatta vineyard of Fratelli Triacca, operating in Bianzone but registered in Switzerland. The vineyard was first planted 500 years ago by Dominican monks. The Mascioni family of vintners from Puschlav were the first to get La Gatta involved in wine. The firm, which was founded in 1897, now produces – in the hands of the Fratellis (Giovanni and Luca) – 300,000 bottles of Triacca every year. What is so special for you about Veltlin wines? „They are highly-elegant,freestanding, complex, vivacious wines, which reflect the scents and aromas of Veltlin: raspberries and fruits of the forest when new; mushrooms,leaves and hay when mature.“The experts know which wine is best to accompany the area’stypical pizzoccheri.