Vini Fay, the Societa Agricola Fay in the Valtellina, northern Lombardy, was founded in 1973 by Sandro Fay who decided to expand this small family estate's activities.
Since 1998, Sandro has been aided by his children Marco and Elena with Marco now leading the winery and wine making. The estate is 15 hectares on the terraced Valtellina mountains. Here, surrounded by mystically high peaks, they grow Nebbiolo, locally called Chiavennasca. The vines are grown between 350 and 900 metres above sea level. The soil in their vineyards is very poor, rocky and sandy, made by crumbled granitic formations.
The Valtellina Valley is split into sub-regions running from East to West. These sub-regions are known as the Crus of the Valtellina. They are called, Marrogia, Sassella, Grumello, Inferno and Valgella. The vineyards of Vini Fay are mainly located in the Sassella and Valgella Crus.
Chiavennasca in Lombardia differs slightly in style from Nebbiolo in Piemonte. It tends to be a touch softer and less tannic. The younger wines can be very fresh and feminine with red fruits and intense floral aromas. The more serious Cru wines are deeper, more savoury and will age very well. At Vini Fay they also make an Amarone style wine from Nebbiolo called Sforzato or Sfurzat as it is often called. It is a traditional wine from the area and is made with dried grapes, like Amarone della Valpolicella. Generally they dry them for about 90 days rather than 120 in Valpolicella. These are concentrated, complex and fabulous wines to drink.
To meet Marco, son of Sandro and current wine maker at Vini Fay, you would never know his wines are served at some of Europe's finest tables. He is the most softly spoken and humble bloke you could ever hope to meet. Still young, he spends considerable time in the vineyard on the steep terraces where the Nebbiolo grows. Marco and his wines deserve all the plaudits they get. This is wine hard made, steep slopes, low yields, freezing temperatures make for hard physical graft and Marco does it happily with a big smile and great humility.