Friday, February 2, 2018

Short Ribs + the Balgera Valtellina Superiore Inferno #ItalianFWT

Susannah of Avvinare invited us to dig deeper into Valtelinna area and wines. Here's her preview post. If you are reading this early enough, please join us on Saturday, February 3rd, for the Twitter chat and use the #ItalianFWT to find and get involved in the discussion.

Valetellina + Chiavennasca
The Valtellina region lies in the extreme north of Lombardy, against the border with Switzerland. Wine production dates back, at least, to the Etruscans who were fermenting grape juice in the area long before the Romans. Because of the topography, mechanization is virtually impossible and everything in the vineyards is done by hand - from cultivating the grapes to harvesting from the vines.

The predominant grape in the region is Chiavennasca, the local name for Nebbiolo. Unlike their Barolo or Barbesco relatives, the resulting Nebbiolos of Valtellina are softer, more delicate, less tannic, and more refined. 

To qualify as a Valtellina Superiore, the wine must be at least 90% Nebbiolo and a minimum aging time of 24 months in barrel. Within the Valtellina Superiore DOCG, there are five sub-areas: Grumello, Inferno, Maroggia, Sassella, and Valgella. 

Looking at the stream on our Italian Food Wine & Travel Facebook page, the bloggers had some challenges acquiring bottles. I, myself, was stymied until I contacted the owners of my favorite local Italian restaurant. Driving into Carmel, Emanuele and Anna provided me with a bottle of the 2011 Balgera Valtellina Superiore Inferno. Grazie e baci!

The #ItalianFWT Bloggers Dish On Valtellina

Balgera Valtellina Superiore Inferno
Emanuele and Anna spoke fondly for the Balgera family...and their wines. That's high praise and good enough for me. Balgera is a boutique winery located in Chiuro with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. Paolo Balgera is the 4th generation winemaker and crafts classic, Old World-style Valtellina wines.

The light-colored wine had a hefty amount of acid and tannin with bold aromas of both red fruit, herbs, and spice. The earthiness - and Emanuele's expert suggestion - had me thinking about braised short ribs. Done.

Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients serves 6
Braised Ribs
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef short ribs
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 C tomato sauce
  • 1 C beef stock
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 2 T capers

For Serving
  • pasta
  • 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
  • caperberries, for garnish

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, melt 1 T butter in 2 T olive oil. Add the onions and fennel. Cook until onions are just translucent.

Add the short ribs to the pan. Sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Pour in the tomato sauce, stock, and red wine. Top with capers. Bring liquid to a boil.

Place it in the oven to braise for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should be tender and almost falling off the bone.

To Serve
Cook pasta according to package. Remove ribs carefully from the sauce. Stir drained pasta into the sauce until completely coated. Add in cheese and stir to incorporate.

Scoop pasta into individual serving bowls and top with short rib. Garnish with caperberries and serve immediately. 


  1. Short ribs AND capers, looks delicious and oh so Italian. I'm glad you were able to find a wine, not so easy!

    1. Just realized you also went with beef + capers. It's a thing now! ;)

  2. I love short ribs....this is being made here soon.

    1. We do, too. I don't make them as often as I should...especially since they are so hands-off and easy.

  3. I can only imagine how good the short ribs and the Valtellina were together Cam! So glad you were able to track down a bottle. So cool you've got that relationship with a local restaurant!

  4. Thanks Camilla, you always write the yummiest articles paired, of course, with great wines. :-)