There are three places in northern Italy which produce great wines from the Nebbiolo grape. The best known is the Barolo/Barbaresco area, in region of Piedmont; then there are a cluster of small appellations in northern Piedmont such as Ghemme, Lessona and Bramaterra, known collectively as Alto Piemonte; then there is the Valtellina, in Lombardy north-east of Milan. The Valtellina is a small alpine valley, not far from St Moritz in Switzerland as the crow flies, with high mountains all around it. The valley runs east-west, so only the north slope of the valley is useful for grape growing, and this rocky slope, in some places very steep, is intensively terraced with vines. Nicola Nobili is the second generation of his family to farm these steep vineyards; he produces less than three thousand cases in total of Sassella, Inferno and Sforzato.
Inferno vineyards were planted with a massal selection of local nebbiolo clones in the 1950s, and are situated at between 350 and 580 meters (1,150 and 1,900 feet) above sea level. Farming practice is organic; manure only, no chemical fertilizer. No use of herbicide, grass under the vines cut with a weed-whacker.
The grapes are harvested in mid October; fermentation is with indigenous yeasts; wine is macerated with the skins for about 2 1/2 weeks, kept in tank for about 3 months, then aged in botti (mostly oak but also some old chestnut) for 42 months.
In the glass this is classic Valtellina Nebbiolo; medium red, very distinctive aromatically (a combination of red fruit, flowers, and amaro-like mixed spice); very elegant structure, with fresh acidity and modest alcohol (around 13%). Irresistibly drinkable when young but should easily go for 10-15 years in the cellar.