Category Archives: Sartori di Verona

Dinner with Andrea Sartori in Verona

One night, Tom Maresca, who was on the Anteprima Amarone tour in Verona with me, arranged for us to have dinner with Andrea Sartori, President of Sartori di Verona. We met Andrea on the way to Trattoria I Masenini, a restaurant I have never been to before. There were a number of other producers in the restaurant and I believe it is one of the city’s best. Tom and I know Andrea for a long time and I enjoyed our dinner conversation. We spoke about wine, people that we knew in the wine business, and had a very nice time.

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Andrea Sartori

Here is some background on the Sartori di Verona winery

The history of Andrea’s family’s involvement in wine goes back to 1898. As recently as 2002, they owned only 37 acres of vineyards and they purchased additional grapes from individual growers with long-term contracts.  This was not enough, however, since the average vineyard property in the Veneto is just 4.2 acres. Andrea was able to solve this problem by establishing a joint venture with the 800 member Cantina Colognola di Colli.  The Cantina received a small percentage of shares in Sartori, and in exchange Sartori acquired exclusive access to 5,681 acres of vineyards in the Soave and Valpolicella zone. With more mergers and acquisitions, the newly named Collis Veneto Wine Group now has over 3,000 members making it the third largest in Italy.

Andrea brought two wines to have with dinner.img_2517

I Saltari Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2011 made from 60% Corvina, 10% Rondinella 10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The vineyards are in the Mezzane Valley on terraces and it is calcareous alkaline soil. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is transferred to various size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine has hints of violets and blackberries with a touch of cherry and leather. Both Andrea and I had the img_2519Faraona alla Mantovana, tortellini filled with guinea fowl, pine nuts and raisins. The wine matched it perfectly.img_2523

Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico “Corte Brà” 2006 DOC. 50% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Oselta. The grapes come from the Corte Brà vineyard in the hills north of Verona. The grapes for this wine are carefully selected, placed in small crates and dried in well-ventilated rooms with fans for 3 to 4 months. When optimal dryness is reached, a hand selection of the best grapes takes place and the grapes are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 30 days. The wine is transferred to traditional tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged in Slavonian oak casks and French tonneaux for about 4 years. It remains in the bottle for another 2 years before release. Franco wants to release the wine when he feels it is ready. This is a classic Amarone that will age.img_2521

Roast pork cook with crisp skin around every slice was a great complement to the wine.

Andrea said that he did not want to make jammy Amarone that tasted like dessert wine and did not go with food. Both of the wines we tasted had a good balance between fruit and acidity. He feels that all of his wines are food wines.

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Filed under Amarone, Sartori di Verona, Uncategorized, Valpolicella

$20 and Under for Summer Drinking

Here is a roundup of some of my favorite wines for summer drinking.

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Les Vignes de Bila-Haut White Côtes Du Roussillon  2014 made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo and Vermentino (Rolle in France). The 40-year-old plus vines are on the hills of the Agly Valley. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a long maceration of two to three weeks, the wine is aged on the fine lees and then racked from vat to vat which naturally clarifies the wines. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. It has hints of citrus aromas and flavors with tropical fruit and good minerality. $14

Bila–Haut was purchased by Michael Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in the best part of the Languedoc, the Cotes du Roussillon in France, an area which I have visited a number of times. Bila-Haut translates to Bila Heights and it was once a refuge for the Knights Templar. The cross-featured on the bottle label is in their honor.IMG_8070

Pinot Grigio 2014 Alto Adige DOC Peter Zimmer. Made from a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. The low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio.  The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, and a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity. $17IMG_8062

Urban Riesling 2014 Nik Weis Selection non-estate Mosel. 100% Mosel Riesling from vineyards around the town of Mehring. The Riesling is grown here on steep slopes with a perfect angle for the sun’s rays. The soil is blue, highly decomposed slate rocks that give the wine its minerality.

The owner/winemaker Nik Weis is a minimalist and traditionalist. The grapes are not destemmed, there is a slight maceration of the grapes, a gentle pressing and gravity-fed sedimentation. There is indigenous yeast fermentation. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. There is a very gentle filtration. It is a complex wine with a smoky and floral bouquet, with juicy fruit and a minerality that finishes off dry. The wine in named for St. Urban, the patron saint of German winemakers. Alcohol is 9.5% and the residual sugar is 33g/l. $14IMG_8063

Frascati DOC “Terre Dei Grifi 2013 Made from 50% Malvasia Bianco di Candia, 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco and 10% Malvasia del Lazio. Hillside vineyards with volcanic, potassium rich soil. The grapes are gently pressed and vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, the wine rests on its lees for 4 months to impart greater complexity, structure and bouquet. The wine ages in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. The wine has fragrances of exotic fruits and citrus with a touch of ripe pear and almond in the finish. $12

Pecorino “Cortalto” 2013 Colli Aprutini IGT Cerulli Spinozzi (Abruzzo) 100% Pecorino. The soil is clay and sand. Fermentation in stainless steel, then malolactic. It is aged on its lees for 5 months before the wine is bottled. Hints of white flowers, peach, citrus fruits and apricot. There is a touch of bitter almond in the finish. I was very impressed by this wine, one of the best I have tasted. $16IMG_8098

Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio Bianco 2013 DOC Struzziero made from 85% Caprettone 15% and Falanghina or Greco. The vineyards are located on the slopes of Vesuvius. Crushing and destemming followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is bottled in March following the harvest. Aromas and flavors of citrus fruit with good minerality and a touch of smoke. $12

Sparkling

Organic Prosecco DOC grapes for this small production Prosecco are harvested from certified organic wine estate in the town of Vazzola in Treviso. The grapes are grown without chemicals or fertilizers, the grapes are 100% organically grown. It is produced in the extra dry style with just a little more residual sugar than a Brut. It has hints of green apple and a touch of tropical fruit. $16

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Les Vignes Rosé Bila Haut 2013 Pays D’Oc  This is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Mr. Chapoutier went outside the Roussillon area to find a Cinsault from the Gard district that, when blended with Grenache, would produce a delicate and elegant rosé. The grapes are vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in those tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and red fruit with a floral aroma. $14IMG_7661

Château La Tour de l’Evêque Rosé 20014 Cuvée Pétale de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence. Made from 42% Cinsault, 38% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 4% Ugni-blanc 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Sèmillon, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Rolle. The hand harvest took place between August 16 and September 16. This is a wine with nice red berry aromas and flavors. Very easy to drink with a nice finish and aftertaste. $18

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Cantina Terlano St. Maddalena 2014 Alto Adige DOC made from 80% Schiava and 15% Lagrein. The vineyards are between 230 and 500 meters and the exposure is south/ southwest. Harvest is by hand and there is a grape selection and they are destemmed. This is followed by a slow must fermentation at a controlled temperatures and gentle agitation of the must in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation and aging is in big wooden barrels for 7/10 months. The wines are blended one month before bottling. The wine has hints of black elderberry and cherry with a touch of bitter almond and violet. It has balanced acidity and low tannins which is a unique feature of the Schiava grape. $20IMG_8069

Scherecbichl Colterenzio Kalterersee Auslese Classico Superiore 2014 Alto Adige DOC 100% Schiava. (Vernatsch) produced by old traditional pergola trained vines. The hillside vineyards are at 410/440 meters and the soils are morainal mixed with sand and eroded porphyry deposits. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with the skins, followed by malolactic fermentation, then four months of aging in tanks. It had red summer fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of cherry, light tannin and acidity. This is a wine to be drunk young served slightly chilled for summer drinking.IMG_8068

Kaltern Caldaro Kalterersee Auslese 2013 Alto DOC Adige 100% Schiava (Vernatsch). The vineyards are on south and east facing slopes surrounding Lake Kaltern at 230/450 meters. The soil is loamy, limestone gravel, with a small proportion of sand. The average age of the vines is 20/50 years and the training system is the pergola. Harvest is from the end of September to the middle of October. Fermentation is for one week on the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged four months on the fine lees in stainless steel and large casks. It has hints of cherry and raspberry with a touch of bitter almond. Wine should be drunk young.IMG_8066

Chianti Classico “Aziano” 2013 DOCG Ruffino Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Colorino and Canaiolo. The soil is moderate clay content rich in Galestro rocks. The vineyards are at 200/400 meters. The vines are guyot trained and cordon spur pruned. Fermentation, aided by racking and punching down, takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Once malolatic fermentation is complete the wine is aged for 11 months in stainless steel and concrete vats and four months in bottle before release. It has hints of red berries, cherries, violets, plums and a touch of spice. $14IMG_8064

Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012 Sartori di Verona made from 45% Corvina, 30% Covinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Croatioa. The Valpolicella Classico area is north of Verona and the soil is calcareous with fine layers of limestone. There is soft pressing with skin maceration for 8 to 10 days. After pressing 10% of the must is extracted to obtain better color and tannin. After racking and malolactic fermentation the wine is aged partially in stainless steel and partially in oak for 15 months. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. It has aromas and flavors of rich red fruit with hints of black cherry, nice minerality and soft tannins. $20

I was very impressed with this wine. It was one of the best Valpolicellas I have tasted in a long time.

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Filed under Banfi, Bila- Haut, Bio-Dynamic, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kalterer See, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Struzziero, Petale de Rose, Peter Zemmer, Pfarrhof Kaltern, Prosecco, Ruffino, Sartori di Verona, St. Magdalener- Hausler, Terre dei Grifi Frascati, Urban Riesling-Nik Weis

ITALIAN SUMMER WHITE WINES FOR UNDER $ 20

My motto has always been that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on wine to drink well. Over the last year I have tasted  many excellant Italian white wines that are under $20.  Here is a list of some of my favorites.


Frascati Superiore Secco 2009 DOC Lazio Fontana Candida Made from 60% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, 30% Trebbiano and 10% Malvasia del Lazio. The grapes come from hillside vineyards in the DOC zone located in the province of Lazio, in the communes of Frascati, Monteporzio Cantone, Grottaferrata, Montecompatri and Rome. The grapes are harvested between September and October and immediately transported to the cellar where they are gently pressed. Vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel and then bottled under nitrogen to protect its freshness and fruit. The wine has aromas and flavors of white peaches and apples. It has good acidity and minerality with a long finish and a nice aftertaste. $10.

Bianco Veronese “Ferdi” 2009 IGT Sartori di Verona (Veneto) made from 100% Gaganega.  There is a careful selection of handpicked grapes from different vineyards that are partially dried in small boxes for 30- 40 days (appassimento) in order to reduce water and concentrate sugar content and color.  3 grams of sugar per liter in the wine is balanced by the acidity. There is a light cold soaking. The pressing of the grapes is followed by short skin maceration at a low temperature.
Part of the must is fermented in 500-liter oak tonneaux but the oak is not new. The remainder is aged in stainless steel. The wine is then left to mature on its lees for 6/7 months. This adds mouth feel and intensity. The wine is aged in bottle for at least 3 months before release. The wine has subtle floral notes with hints of pears and apricots and good acidity.  $14

Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG 2010 Beni di Batasiolo 100% Cortese (Piedmont) the vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity. $18.99

Cuppa Ramato 2009Venezia Giulia Pinot Grigio IGT 2009 Attems.
The harvest took place near the end of September and the grapes were harvested by hand. Vinification takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasted for seven days. For this wine the skins remained in contact with the juice for 12 hours and the wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for four months in barriques and two months in stainless steel and one month in bottle before release. It has the color of a blush wine. The aroma is very aromatic with hints of strawberry and cherry. It is quite firm on the pallet with a nice fruit in the finish and aftertaste. It is a most interesting wine! $19

 The history of the Orange Wine
This wine goes back to the way Pinot Grigio was made during the time of the Republic of Venice. Ramato, meaning copper, was the term used to describe the color of the wine. Some clones of Pinot Grigio can also be copper in color. The traditional vinification process led to the use of this name. The must remains in contact with the skins for 36 hours and this gives the wine a very distinctive coppery hue. The term “orange wine” is used to describe white wine where the juice has had skin contact.

Grechetto Dell’Umbria IGT 2010, made from 100% Grechetto. Scacciadiavoli The harvest takes place the first ten days of September. Vinification takes place in steel tanks on the lees and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release. Grechetto is a native Umbrian varietal and this a wine to be enjoyed when it is young. It is fresh and fruity with floral hints and good acidity. $18
Vermentino Maremma Toscana IGT 2011 Cecchi 85% Vermentino and 15% other approved grapes. The vines are at 150 meters and the training system is guyot. There are 5,500 grapes per hectare. Harvesting takes place the beginning of September. After the grapes are picked they are left for 12 hours at a temperature of 8°C in contact with the skins in order to keep the primary aromas.
Fermentation takes place in small stainless steel tanks for 18 days and the wine remains in bottle for two months before release. $16
Pecorino 2009 Offida DOC 100% Pecorino Saladini Pilastri.  The vineyard is 4 hectares at 150 meters with gravelly soil and east/northeast exposure. Training system is vertical shoot-positioned trellis, and there are 4,200 plants/ha. The harvest takes place in the middle of September and the grapes are organically farmed. Temperature controlled fermentation for 20 days. This is a wine with floral and herbal undertones and nice citrus aromas and flavors.  $14.99

Scavigna Bianco DOC 2010 Azienda Agricola Odoardi (Calabria) made from Greco Bianco, Chardonnay, Malvasia, Trebbiano, Pinot Bianco and Riesling. The winery is at 600 meters. The soil is calcareous clay and the training system is Guyot. The harvest takes place in late August and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine has flavors and aromas of white peach and herbs. They are one of the few producers that make this wine.  Owners are Giorgio and Giovanbattista Odoardi. $17

Falanghina Beneventana IGT 100% Falanghina  Donna Chiara.(Campania)  The soil is chalky clay, there are 2,500 vines per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation in stainless steel at controlled temperature for 40 days. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and does not see any wood.
The wine was fresh with hints of citrus and floral aromas and flavors, good acidity and is a very pleasant wine to drink. $18

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Filed under Calabria, Ciró, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Frascati, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Odoardi winery, Sartori di Verona, Scacciadiavoli, Scavigna Bianco, Vermentino, wines under $20

Franco Bernabei and the Wines of Sartori di Verona

Franco Bernabei is one of Italy’s top enologists.  Recently, he was in New York to speak about the wines of Sartori di Verona at SD26, one of my favorite Italian restaurants.  I have always admired Franco’s work and his honesty. Many years ago I asked him a question about the wines of Piedmont and his answer was “I do not know because I do not consult for any wineries there.”

Andrea Sartori, President, Sartori di Verona, introduced his wines and told us the history of his families’ involvement in wine dating back to 1898.  He said that in 2002 they owned only 37 acres of vineyards.  They purchased additional grapes from individual growers with long-term contracts.  This was not enough, however since  the average vineyard property in the Veneto is just 4.2 acres.   Mr. Sartori was able to solve this problem by establishing a joint venture with the 800 member Cantina Colognola di Colli.  The Cantina received a small percentage of shares in Sartori, and in exchange Sartori acquired exclusive access to 5,681 acres of vineyards in the Soave and Valpolicella zone. With more mergers and acquisitions, the newly named Collis Veneto Wine Group now has over 3,000 members making it the third largest in Italy.

Franco Bernabei

As all of this was happening Mr. Sartori recruited Franco Bernabei as the consulting enologist.  That was almost ten years ago. Franco lives in Tuscany but was born in the Veneto.  He has a small consulting company which he runs with his sons. Andrea pointed out that Franco is a hands on consultant and is more than willing to share information.

The Wines

Bianco Veronese “Ferdi” 2009 IGT made from100% Garganega. There is a careful selection of handpicked grapes from different vineyards that are partially dried in small boxes for 30- 40 days (appassimento) in order to reduce water and concentrate sugar content and color. Franco said that there is 3 grams of sugar per litter in the wine but this was balanced by the acidity. There is a light cold soaking. The pressing of the grapes is followed by a short skin maceration at a low temperature.

Part of the must is fermented in 500-liter oak tonneaux but the oak is not new. The remainder is aged in stainless steel. The wine is then left to mature on its lees for 6/7 months. Franco said that this adds mouth feel and intensity. The wine is aged in bottle for at least 3 months before release. The wine has subtle floral notes with hints of pears and apricots and good acidity.  $14

On the subject of new oak, Franco said that it was too aggressive and masks the flavor of the grape. He feels you must taste the skins of the grape in the wine, like chewing on the grape, and the acidity and tannins must be there. When you drink a wine there should a sense of place, where the wine comes from, the climate, the soil and the grape.

Rosso Veronese “Regolo” 2007 IGT. 100% Corvina. There is a careful selection of grapes from the vineyards in the hilly area of Valpolicella north of Verona. A gentle pressing of the grapes is followed by skin maceration at low temperatures between 15/18 days. In February following the harvest the wine goes through the ripasso process, resting on the lees of Amarone. Franco said that only a small percentage of the wine undergoes the rispasso process and added that none of the grapes are dried; he did not want to make a “baby” Amarone. After malolactic fermentation the wine is aged for 18/24months in barriques and medium to large oak casks and remains in the bottle for a minimum 6 months before release. This is a wine with red berry aromas and flavors, good structure, hints of cherry and good acidity.  The wine is named for Regolo, patriarch of the Sartori family and cofounder of the company. $19

Again Franco made the point that the barriques used are all second and third passage. He also repeated that the wine must taste like the skins of the grapes, a point that he stressed a number of times. If the wood is new you will also lose the minerality in the wine. The bottom line to all of this is that if there is too much wood all the wine begins to taste the same.

Franco said that 2007 was a great vintage in the Verona area.

Amarone Della Valpolicella 2008 DOC, made from 50% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Cabernet. Franco said that this is the only wine that has an international grape. The 5% of Cabernet Sauvignon is reduced to 2 or 3% after the drying takes place. The grapes are dried on racks for 100 days to concentrate their sugar content.  Franco said that they do not dry their grapes in temperature-controlled warehouses but just use fans because of the humidity. There is great attention to detail and the grapes are checked every day to see that they are in perfect condition. After the drying the grapes are cold soaked to regenerate the skins like a sponge. Traditional pressing and fermentation are followed by a minimum of 3 years of aging in Slavonian oak. Franco does not want the Amarone to go over 15% alcohol. The wine has aromas and flavors of dried fruits raisins, cherry with a hint of spice in the finish. $40

Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico “Corte Brà” 2006 DOC. 50% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Oselta. The grapes come from the Corte Brà vineyard in the hills north of Verona. The grapes for this wine are carefully selected, placed in small crates and dried in well-ventilated rooms with fans for 3 to 4 momths. When optimal dryness is reached, a hand selection of the best grapes takes place and the grapes are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 30 days. The wine is transferred to traditional tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged in Slavonian oak casks and French Tonneaux for about 4 years. It remains in the bottle for another 2 years before release. Franco wants to release the wine when he feels it is ready. This is a classic Amarone that will age $52

Franco also said that he did not want to make jammy Amorone that tasted like dessert wine and did not go with food. All of the red wines had a good balance between fruit and acidity. He feels that all of these wines are food wines. This wine was the perfect match for the Amarone braised beef cheeks with caramelized onion & polenta taragna that we enjoyed for lunch.

Amarone Della Valpolicella “Corte Brà” 1995 $NA. This wine was made before Franco Bernabei became the consulting enologist. The wine was still drinking but was showing too much age for an Amarone that was less than 20 years old.

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Filed under Amarone, Franco Bernabei, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Sartori di Verona, Veneto