Barbacan vineyard in Valtellina, natural wine, primal wine -

Barbacan Wines – High-altitude Excellence

Jun 09, 2019Giovanni Segni

The Sega brothers, Matteo and Luca, along with their father Angelo, are the heart and soul of Barbacan. They are among the pioneers of natural winemaking in the steep slopes of the Valtellina area in northern Lombardy and true symbols of heroic winemaking. The territorial nature of this beautiful family-run winery is evident from the name itself since Barbacan in the local dialect indicates the buttressing walls of a typical building once found among the vineyards.

The words of the Sega brothers when speaking of their winemaking ethos sound a moving vinnaturist chord:

“We believe in natural viticulture where man and his knowledge are focused on serving land and terroir. With no fiction nor artifice, we shepherd our healthy and living grapes, accompanying a vibrant wild fermentation. We are farmers on the Alps, we preserve the plurality and diversity of our ancient local varieties and the cultural identity of traditional agronomic practices.

In the vineyard we observe what nature is communicating to us: the melting of the snow in the alpine peaks, the ripe hay on the meadows in the lower valleys, a spontaneous mountain spring being birthed from the ancient rocks. Every single message is for us a precious source of wisdom, stimulating us to act following the teachings of those who came before us. In our wine, we seek to fully express every single vintage, with its idiosyncrasies and sublime equilibrium, each and every time different and unpredictable.

With every new season, we repeat ancient gestures, continuing and giving new life to the identity of an Alpine people who from time immemorial has been intimately linked to the cultivation of the Chiavennasca grape.”

Barbacan natural wine from Valtellina, Northern Italy, Valtellina Superiore, Organic Wine, Low sulfite Wine

The Sega family works around 7 hectares of the traditional Chiavennasca grape (a close relative of Piedmont’s Nebbiolo) and a number of almost lost and forgotten varieties in San Giacomo di Teglio. All the vineyards are on steeply terraced slopes and all work is rigorously manual and, given the vertiginous heights and inclinations, really could not be otherwise. Matteo and Luca’s family have been custodians for generations of up to 20 different clones of Chiavennasca, some being cultivated in vineyards whose age can top 100 years. The very best vineyards of their small estate are the crus called Söl and Pizamej, placed at over 500m of altitude.

The link to a deep historical identity also shines through the striking labels, which are inspired by the Neolithic cave paintings found in the Valtellina area. Work in the vineyard allows exclusively for moderate amounts of copper and sulfur and of course no irrigation. Likewise in the cellar, the wines see only wild fermentation with indigenous yeasts in steel tanks and no intervention whatsoever before aging in large wooden barrels; only extremely moderate quantities of added SO2 at bottling. All of Barbacan wines, from the easy-drinking and convivial Rosso di Valtellina to the austere crus Söl and Pizamej, are alive and vibrant with an energy that speaks both of ancient roots and of a striving passion to project their wines into the future.

More articles