In the far northern alps, five generations of the Pelizzatti Perego family have lived and grown wine in the Valtellina valley in Lombardia since the late 1800’s. In the beginning, the family business was known as ‘Pelizzatti’, in time the name was emblazoned bold and proud in giant letters across the hillside, like an alpine Italian version of the Hollywood sign.
In the 70’s when Guido (the head of the family business at the time) fell ill, they divided the holdings and the business and the trademarked family name were sold. Guido’s son Arturo had held on to a portion of the estate, and had leased it out, finally in 1984 the leases expired and Arturo Pelizzatti Perego regained and restarted the family business, using his own initials ArPePe (APP) to give the new name to this new era of wine growing.
Farming organically, they have three sites in the villages of Sasella, Grumello and inferno, encompassing 13 hectares of vines, all planted to nebbiolo, which is known as chiavennasca in this region, it’s historical home. The vines are planted on red clay and flaky granite, held in place by stunning dry stone terraces on south facing slopes, at between 300 to 700 metres above sea level. The valley is actually one of only a few east to west running valleys in Europe and the elevation, sub climate and unique terroir all play a part in the distinct personality of the nebbiolo grown here. It is highly perfumed and unapologetically mineral, characteristics that the Perego’s have always seen as integral to the wine that they make and they strive to retain this in the bottle. Nebbiolo from Valtellina is a different beast to the often more structured and muscular nebbiolo from Piemonte in Barbaresco or Barolo….seductive perfume and delicate florals are tethered by a driving minerality to the exciting depth and robust, savoury heart of this alpine varietal.
All farming is manual, indeed the mind-bogglingly steep terraces wouldn’t lend themselves to anything else even if they had wanted to! They work using natural preparations in the vineyards and understand that some years will be better than others, as far as maladies, pests, weather and yields are concerned. In 2008 they lost almost everything and due to their minuscule production they didn’t release any wine at all. They believe in meticulous farming and extended ageing for their chiavennasca, their family motto is: “Il giusto tempo del Nebbiolo.”.
ArPePe is a true family affair, when Arturo passed away in 2004 his children were ready to take over. The farming and winemaking is overseen by Emanuele and PR, communications, management and development by Isabella and Guido - even the new sustainable building that houses the ‘cellar door’ tastings, and the label of the Rosso di Valtellina were designed by Enrico Massimino, Isabella’s husband. These three siblings form the next dynamic generation of Pelizzatti Perego dynasty that is making sure that their family legacy continues long into the future.