Category Archives: Pieropan Amarone

PIeropan: Soave and one Amarone.

Seven years ago in a ceremony at Castello Scaligero in Soave, Italy, I was inducted into the Imperial Castellania Di Suavia, a world wide women’s organization that praises “Il Vino Bianco Soave.” The members are people that love food and wine. I was inducted as “Capitano Spadarino,” protector of the Women of the Castle and for my contributions to Italian food and wine and Soave in particular. They presented me with a spadarino, a short sword on an embroidered sash. Soave has been one of my favorite white wines for many years. It was a great honor.

A Woman of the Castle  and Capitano Spadarino

Last month Vignaioli Veneti invited me on press trip to the Veneto. We would stay on Lake Garda and visit 11 of the top producers. One of the producers I was looking forward to visiting was Pieropan. I have been enjoying their Soave for a very long time.

The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals. There is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. The soil does make a difference. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir- based wines.

Andrea Pieropan speaking about the wines

The Pieropan winery is located in the center of the medieval town of Soave.

Andera Pieropan welcomed us at the winery. Andra said Pieropan is a family winery and he works with his father Leonildo, his brother Dario, and mother Teresita. Andera said  he and his brother are the fourth generation. Andera led us through a tasting of the wines.

THE WINES

Soave Classico 2016 is made from 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. Grapes are from hillside vineyards in the classical zone. The soil is volcanic and the vineyard is situated at 100/300 meters and is facing west. Training system is guyot with 5,200 plants per hectare and 3,000 vines per hectare with the pergola Veronese system.

The grapes are hand picked in mid September for the Trebbiano di Soave and in October for the Garganega. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass lined cement tanks. The wine remains here on the lees for a period of time according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest the wine is bottled and released after one month. Dario said this is the freshest and youngest of their wines.  

I have been fortunate enough to taste and drink many older vintages of Soave going back almost 30 years. We tasted the 1995 Pieropan Soave Classico. The wine was showing almost no signs of age and I wished I could of had it with dinner that night!

Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino” 2015 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone.

Andrea said the name Calvarino comes from “Little Calvary” reflecting how difficult the soil is to work and the tortuous path, which winds from top to bottom.

The soil

The soil is rich in clay and tufaceous basalt. Dario said it gives the wine an attractive mineral quality. The vineyard is situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with a fresh aroma and hints of flowers, lemon and cherry.

We also tasted the 1992 Calvarino which was showing very well and again proves the point  that not only can Soave age but improves with age.


Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2015 DOC Pieropan 100% Garganega. Dario said the La Rocca vineyard is on the Monte Rocchetta hill just below the Scaligeri castle in Soave.

The soil

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for over 12 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release.

This is an elegant wine with hints of exotic fruit, nuts and a touch of spice.  It was interesting to taste the La Rocca and the Calvarino wines together.  Both were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and  will need more time to develop. 

Amarone della Valpolicella 2013 DOCG  In 1999 the Pieropan family purchased property in the Cellore d’Illasi zone in the Valpolicella and Amarone production zones. The wine is made from 60% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina, and 10% of old traditional Valpolicella varieties. The vineyard is 14 years old and is south facing at an altitude of 500 meters. There are 5,800 vines per hectare; the training system is guyot, pruned to 8 buds per vine. The grapes are hand picked in September and naturally dried. They are pressed and destemmed and the must is fermented for about 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap takes place every day. Aging is in 500 liter barrels for 24/30 months and one year in bottle before release. This is an Amarone to drink with food. It has hints of blackberries, black cherries and plums.

On Lake Garda a few years ago I saw the Pieropan Amarone 2006 in a restaurant. I did not know they made an Amarone so I ordered it. I was very impressed with the wine!  Andrea  said 2006 was the first vintage.

Recioto Soave Classico 2012 “Le Colombare” 100% Garganega (Veneto) Pieropan

Certified Organic. Volcanic soil, rich in basalt and tuffo eocene. The vineyards are at 300m and the exposure is west. The training system is Pergola Veronese and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. There is a manual harvest with careful selection of ripe grapes. All the grapes are collected in small boxes and brought to the winery for the drying process. The grapes are manually placed in a loft on mats made of bamboo reeds. The drying is natural and the grapes remain until they wither which is around the end of February. The natural climate conditions allow for berry dehydration, loss of water and the development of noble rot (Botrytis). The yield of juice is very low and the grapes lose 1/4 of their original weight. The wine is only produced in good vintages. Destemming and pressing of the grapes takes place. There is a selection of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 14 to 16 degrees C in barrels of 2,500 liters. The residual sugar is 110 to 120 g/L. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 200 liters for about two years and in glass for 6 months before release. This is a dessert wine with ripe fruit, hints of apricot and quince with a very long finish taste and nice aftertaste.

I did not taste this wine at the winery but at a dinner that night. I have always liked their Recioto, which is one of the best  dessert wines produced, so I had to include it.

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Filed under Amarone, Pieropan Amarone, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Pieropan-La Colombare, Soave

Eating and Drinking around Lake Garda

Lake Garda in Northern Italy is a favorite place to visit. Usually we stay on the western side but on a recent trip, Michele and I decided to stay in Bardolino, which is on the eastern side.

Sunset on Lake Garda

Sunset on Lake Garda

Bardolino is a very picturesque town right on the lake. We stayed in a hotel about a kilometer from the center and it was a lovely walk along the lake into town. There are many excellent restaurants in the area.IMG_5453

Enoteca con Cucina Il Giardino delle Esperidi This restaurant in the heart of Bardolino is a true gem. A friend and fellow wine writer, Tom Hyland, recommended it. There are about 700 labels on the wine list, both Italian and foreign, and a large selection of Champagne. The prices are very good.IMG_5446

When we arrived, Susanna Tezzon, who runs the front of the house and is in charge of the wines, greeted us. After speaking with Susanna, I ordered a bottle of Emidio Pepe 2003 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. 100% Montepulciano d’Abuzzo. The Emidio Pepe winery is both organic and biodynamic. The winery belongs to the Triple “A”– Agriculturists Artisans Artists, an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in Organic and Bio-Dynamic production, terroir, and as little interference as possible by the winemaker in the winemaking process. In their vineyard only sulphur and copper water are used along with biodynamic preparations. Only natural yeast is used which gives the wine more complexity because there are so many different strains of yeast on the grapes and in the air. The grapes are crushed by hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25hl. The wine remains here for two years. The wine is then transferred to bottles by hand.IMG_5449

Susanna brought out a decanter and said it was a one made especially for organic wines. I had never heard of this before but the restaurant was busy and we were enjoying the food and wine so much that I did not ask any more about it.

Salami and Cultello

Salami and Culatello

The food could not have been better and we had a number of courses including Guinea Hen, Salami and Culatello

Locanda Sul Minico

Locanda Sul Minico

Antica Locanda sul Mincio in Borghetto Valeggio sul Mincio. This restaurant may be Michele’s favorite as far as location is concerned. The outdoor dining area is on the riverbank of the Mincio River and it overlooks the medieval village. The view is incomparable. The restaurant has more than just a picturesque setting, however, the food is also excellent.

Grilled Polenta with Fresh Salame

Grilled Polenta with Fresh Salame

Among the dishes we had were grilled polenta with fresh salame, ravioli filled with pear and ricotta and for a main course, roasted goat. IMG_5516

With our meal we drank a bottle of Valpolicella Superiore from Azienda Agricola Marion DOC. 10% Corvina Gentile, 60% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, 10% Teroldego and other varieties.The winery is in the foothills of the Marcellise Valley some 100 meters above sea level. The vineyards lie on gently sloping hills facing from north to south. The soil is chalk with a little clay and stones. The grapes are harvested between the first and second weeks of September and the first week of October. Part of the grapes are collected in boxes and then placed on wooden racks in well-ventilated rooms, where they are partially dried for approximately 40 days. A second part is left hanging on the vines until it reaches super-ripeness, to be harvested during the first ten days of October, and then pressed. After fermentation the wines obtained are aged separately in small oak barrels for about 30 months and lastly blended and bottled.   This is a wine with a lot of body and aromas and flavors of prunes and blackberries.

Taverna Kus di Zanolli Giancarlo This restaurant is in San Zeno di Montagna and there is a great view of Lake Garda below and Monte Baldo above. There is a garden dining area, a covered outdoor area, and an inside area.IMG_5475

We drank a 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella from one of the best producers of Soave Pieprone. In 1999 the Pieropan family purchased property in the Cellore d’Illasi zone in the Valpolicella and Amarone production zones. The wine is made from 60% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina, and 10% of old traditional Valpolicella varieties. The vineyard is 14 years old and is South facing at an altitude of 500 meters. There are 5,800 vines per hectare, the training system is guyot, pruned to 8 buds per vine. The grapes are hand picked in September and naturally dried. They are pressed and destemmed and the must is fermented for about 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap takes place every day. Aging is in 500 liter barrels for 24/30 months and one year in bottle before release. This is an Amarone to drink with food. It has hints of blackberries, black cherries and plums. This is the first tine I have had this wine and I was very impressed by it.IMG_5479

We began our meal with plates of culatello accompanied by carrot mostarda, followed by a dish of artichokes baked with cheese, an unusual dish that we really enjoyed.

Ristorante Alla Borsa- this is a restaurant in center of the town of Valleggio sul Mincio. It used to be a trattoria where the merchants of the village met to conduct business. Because of this it was called Borsa, which means purse or stock exchange in Italian. The restaurant has a very nice outdoor garden where one can dine and view the old Scaligero castle.IMG_5459

We drank a Valpolicella Classico Superiore IGT 2010 “La Fabriseria” from Tedeschi. 35% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta. The wine is made from grapes that are used for their amarone but are fermented without drying. The grapes are harvested in October and are slightly overripe. The pressing is very soft so that some of the grapes remain whole with the stem. The must ferments in small fermenting vats. Alcoholic fermentation lasts for about ten days. Skin contact is for about 20 days and malolactic fermentation is quickly terminated in Slovenian oak barrels. The wine is aged one year in wood and six months in bottle before release. The wine had hints of prunes and cherries and a hint of vanilla.

Tortellini with Butternut Squash

Tortellini with Butternut Squash

The town of Valeggio sul Mincio and the Restaurant Alla Borsa are renowned for their excellent tortellini, so we had three varieties: cheese, butternut squash and meat filled.

 

 

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Filed under Antico Locanda sul Minico, Emidio Pepe, IL Giardino delle Esperidi, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Lake Garda, Marion Valpolicella, Pieropan Amarone, Ristorante alla Borsa, Taverna Kus, Tedeschi