Rainoldi Valtellina Inferno Superiore: Best Bottle of 2012?

We had a birthday party for my husband last weekend, the kind of party that begs for that one special bottle from your collection.  For me it was the Rainoldi Valtellina Superiore, Inferno Riserva from 1997 that I had been saving for a few years.  This is the bottle you eyeball every time you look through your collection… so worth the wait!

Valtellina is a special place- high in the mountains of Lombardia.  These wines are made from the local clone of Nebbiolo, known regionally as “Chiavennasca”.  The mountains are steep, the climate harsh and unforgiving.  These are mountain-dwelling people who farm grapes in such a tough terrain- it is surprising and wonderful that the wines produced as a result are among some of the most complex and elegant in the world.  There are several “Cru” areas within the Valtellina- Inferno being one of the most exciting.  This little sliver of valley receives the benefit of the most sun and consequently the

“Inferno” wines can tend towards riper fruit, and brighter flavors.

My bottle of Rainoldi had just begin to turn brick red around the edges, but it was fresh and perky on the palate.  With the dried fruit and flowery nose you’d expect from a Valtellina Inferno,


this wine also carried gorgeous notes of wild sage and drying orange rind.  It was soft and supple on the palate- delicate like an older Barolo, but with the power and body of an Amarone.  After all these years, decidedly NOT a disappointment.  More like a revelation.

Of course, the food was fantastic and plentiful, thanks especially to Emil’s grilling skills.   We roasted a whole suckling pig on his Weber grill, and complimented it with a whole host of side dishes.  And cheeses.  There are always lots of cheeses at our house…

Yes, that’s a yam in his mouth.  I ran out of apples…

Emil’s mom’s Salad Olivier– this is just plain Armenian-Russian deliciousness.

The Robiola was especially fantastic with this Valtellina wine.  Heaven.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Borani.

One of Emil’s Birthday Pies (no cake, please), of the Blueberry persuasion.

Overall one of my favorite occasions to celebrate.  There’s no better excuse to bring friends and family together over fantastic meal and amazing bottle of wine.  Happy Birthday, Emil!