Category Archives: Valpolicella

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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Visiting Bolla on the Anteprima Amarone Tour

It is only fitting that this was the first winery I visited on the Anteprima Amarone Tour was Bolla since Bolla Soave or Valpolicella may have been the first Italian wine I ever drank back in the 1960’s in NYC.

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Christian Zulian in the Cellar

The Bolla winery is located in San Pietro in Cariano in the center of the Valpolicella area. It was established in 1883 making it one of the oldest wineries in the zone. It has been under different ownership over the years and the current owner is Gruppo Italiano VIni. The exclusive partner for the US market is Banfi Vintners.img_2362

The Director of the Cantina, Christian Zulian, took us on a tour of the cellar. There were barrels of every size from barriques to barrels of more than 40hl and everything in between. Some old barrels went back to 1883.

Christian said that he was from Tuscany, had worked for Antinori, and had been at Bolla only a short time. Being an “outsider” he might have a different approach to the wines.

He took us through a tasting of the wines.img_2366

Valpolicella Cl. Sup. Ripasso DOC 2015 Made from 70% Corvina and Corvinone and 70% Rondinella. Vineyards are in the Valpolicella Classico zone located near the village of Jago. The soil is very stony, clay and limestone. Harvesting is by hand toward the end of September and takes place only when the grapes are perfectly ripe. The lots are vinified separately. The grapes undergo a cold pre-fermentation process for about 5 days, total contact with the skins lasts about 20 days. It is stored cold for about 4 months before undergoing the ripasso process. Christian said this process entails fermenting the wine on Amarone must for about 20 days to increase color, aroma, body, complexity and fruit flavors. The wine is aged for about 9 months in first and second passage barriques and then transferred to larger barrels for about 3 months. The wine remains in the bottle for one month before release. This is a modern style ripasso, clean but full with hints of dark fruit and wild berries. Sugar 8.5 g/l

Christian explained in detail the law concerning the production of Ripasso. In short, because of the process for every bottle of Amarone produced, the winery can produce two bottles of Ripasso. img_2365

Valpolicella Cl. Sup. Ripasso 2014 “Le Poiane” DOC made from 70% Corvine and Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and other local varieties. The vineyards are mainly located in the Jago and Crosara areas of the Negrar locality. The limestone-marly hill soil is surrounded by the typical dry stone walls known as marogne. These calcareous stone walls create terraces.

The grapes are picked when they are perfectly ripe. At the end of February when the Amarone is drawn off the ripasso process takes place. The wine is aged first in barriques and then in large barrels for about 12 to18 months. Then in bottle for another 3 months before it is release. This is a complex wine with hints of dry fruit, spice and black pepper. Sugar 4.5 g/limg_2368

Amarone dellla Valpolicella “Rhetico” Classico DOC 2010, 85% Corvina and 15 % Rondinella. The training system is pergola Veronese on the hills of the valley of Negrar. The soil is Calcareous marl marked by the marogne. The most loosely clustered and ripest grape bunches are hand picked and taken to the drying loft where they remain for about 120 days under optimal conditions of temperature, humidity and ventilation. Christian said the drying process, known as appassimento, increases the sugar content, polyphenolic and aromatic compounds in the grapes. At the end of January, the dried grapes are soft pressed and put into fermentation tanks, where alcoholic fermentation takes place after cold pre-fermentation maceration. This gives the wine more complexity. There is a slow fermentation at a controlled temperature 18 to 20C for about 3 weeks.

The wine is aged in barriques of different origin and toastings for 36 months and another 12 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with intense and complex aromas with hints of ripe red berries and a touch of vanilla and chocolate. Residual sugar 7.5 g/limg_2370

Amarone della Valpolicella “Le Origini” Riserva DOCG 2010 made from 75% Corvina and Corvinone, 25% Rondinella. Training system is the Veronese pergola. The vineyards are located in the high Marano and Negrar valleys. Carefully selected grapes gathered on trays and transported to fruit sheds to dry for about 120 days. The grapes become raisin like and this enriches the sugar concentration of the grapes to 24 to 25 degrees Babo and the polyphenol and aromatic compounds. Pressing at the end of January is followed by pre-fermentation maceration at 5C for about 7 days. Then begins a slow fermentation for 25 days at a controlled temperature, followed by another 5 days of post-fermentation maceration, which gives high glycerin, and this gives smoothness, balance fullness and complexity. Christian said the wine is aged in small oak barrels, partly new and partly used once previously, then 36  months in 4,000 to 7,ooo litter, big oak barrels

 

This is a complex wine with hints of cherries, jam and liquorice with notes of spice and cedar.

Sugar 8.5 g/l and the alcohol is 16.6%.

I have had this wine before on several occasions and always enjoyed it. However, if I understood him correctly Christian said he was going to give the wine more aging in barriques made from American oak!

 

I also tasted:

Soave 2015 This was an excellent example of classic Soave.

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Barrel sample of 2016 Valpolicella

Bardolino 2015 light and fruity and a great food wine, as was the Valpolicella 2016 sample from the barrel.

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012 This is their entry level Amarone and it was very good.

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Valpolicella: Microclimate Differences and Lake Garda

After speaking about Valpolicella and differences related to altitude (see  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/valpolicella-background-and-the-influence-of-altitude/), Alberto Brunelli, the oenologist for the  Consorzio Valpolicella, turned to  the subject of  microclimate variations and the influence of Lake Garda. He divided the second group of wines accordingly.

The distance of vineyards from Garda Lake: the further  they are, the maximum summer temperatures are higher and can influence the vines and their expression in wine in many ways. From west (near the lake) to east (far from it), we have this trend:img_1775

 Distance from the lake, along with the vineyards’ sun exposition and altitude influence every single valley’s and vineyard’s temperature.  The daily temperature range affects the polyphenolic and anthocyanin potential in a vintage, as well as the body, the color and the aging of the wine.lake-garder

The Winesimg_1739

Gerardo Cesari Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015 made from 75% Corvina and 25% Rondinella. Harvest is from September 20th to October 15. Traditional fermentation with maceration for 10 days and then malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine remains in stainless steel for at least 4 months and then in bottle for a short time before release. The wine is fresh and fruity with aromas of wild berries.img_1740

Scriani Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015 made from Corvina 60%, Corvinone 20%, 10% Rondinella, 7% Molinara and 3% Oseleta from the La Costa and Ronchiel vineyards in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone. The land ranged in altitude between 250 and 400 meters. The soil is composed of a mixture of clay, limestone and basaltic tufa. Harvest is by hand in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 12 days of maceration on the grape skins at a controlled temperature. The wine in fragrant and fruity with hints of red berries and a touch of sage.img_1741

Santa Sofia Valpolicella DOC 2014 Made from 70% Corvina and Corvinone with 30% Rondinella from vineyards with calcareous soils located in the municipality of San Pietro in Cariano. Maturation is in stainless steel and the wine remains in the bottle for another 3 months before release. The wine has hints of cherries, raspberries with a touch of spice and good acidity.img_1742

San Cassiano Valpolicella DOC 2014 made from 70% Corvina, 15% Molinara and 15% Rondinella. The training system is pergola and there are 3,300 vines per hectare. The grapes are left on the vine to dry for a week. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats, without the addition of yeast. The wine is aged in stainless steel vats for 12 months. They include 15% Molinara, a varietal abandoned by many producers, but they feel it gives the wine a salty taste with spicy notes. The wine has hits of red fruit and cherries.img_1743

Fattori Valpolicella DOC 2015 “Col de la Bastia” Made from 65% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and 10% other varieties. 12 hectares located in Bastia, exactly on the valley between the Val d’Alpone and the Val d’lllai. The shaley clay-subalkaline land is formed in a broad plateau with slight slopes, produced by the alteration of limestone formations. The altitude is 450 meters. There are 5200 vines per hectare and the vines are between 20 to 35 years old. Harvest is by hand the last two weeks of September. Fermentation and maturation is in stainless steel and wooden barrels. The wine had fruity aromas and flavors with hints of cherries and other red fruits.

Next time vintages differences: The 2014 and 2015 and conclusions.

 

 

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Filed under Cesari Valpolicella, Fattori Valpolicella, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Lake Garda, San Cassiano Valpolicella, Santa Sofia Valpolicella, Scriani Valpolicella, Uncategorized, Valpolicella, Veneto

Valpolicella: Background and the Influence of Altitude

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with Olga Bussinello and  Alberto Brunelli

The Wine Media Guild’s November tasting and lunch featured 13 Valpolicella wines. These wines express their terroir and go well with food, qualities that I always look for in a wine. What’s more, they can be drunk young. Fresh and fruity, Valpolicella wines have hints of red fruit and good acidity. They are vinified in stainless steel and aged for a short period in stainless steel, and a few see a short period in wood. At under $20 they are a real bargain.

The speakers at the event were Olga Bussinello, director of Consorzio Valpolicella who spoke about the Consorzio and Alberto Brunelli Consorzio Valpolicella Oenologist, who spoke about the wines.

Tha Consorzio per la Tulta dei Vini Valpolicella is an association of grape growers, wine producers and bottlers in the production area, which includes 19 municipalities of the province of Verona. The Consorzio represents more than 80% of the producers that use the Valpolicella appellation.

The Valpolicella appellation is located north of Verona. It borders Lake Garda to the west and is protected by the Lessini Mountains to the east and north. It covers the Verona foothills area, which is part of the eastern Alps. The vines are traditionally pergola-trained according to the typical “pergola Veronese system.”

The main grapes are Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella and to a lesser extent Molinara. All of them are strictly indigenous and found only within the Verona province.

Valpolicella Superiore is made from select grapes grown in the best locations and is aged for a minimum of one year. It has a higher alcohol content and lower acidity then Valpolicella.

Alberto divided the wines into three groups. The first group was selected for the altitude of the vineyards.

Alberto said altitude plays an important part because it allows for grapes to develop complexity in terms of structure, acidity and flavors. It influences daily temperature range, the key factor for acidity, accumulation of anthocyanins and polyphenolic potential. Of course altitude is also responsible for retardation of ripening and consequently for the harvest.img_1770

He then said altitudes on the tasting sheet referred to a winery’s location and main vineyards, but wineries frequently have vineyards located at higher altitudes (as Monte Zovo). As you see on the map the Stefano Accordini wine, the wines did not make the tasting, has the highest vineyards at 520 meters, but Monte Zovo has the highest individual vineyard at 800 meters.

The Wines: img_1738

Monte Zovo Valpolicella DOC 2014 made from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. Vineyards at 260 meters. The hillside vineyards located in Tregnago (eastern Valoplicella) are at 600 meters. The wine is fermented in steel to maintain the expression of the fruit. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of sour cherry and good acidity. This is an everyday wine, which goes with a number of different foods. 

This is a family run winery in Verona. All the grapes come from their 140 hectares of vines located in Valpolicella, Bardolino and Lake Garda. One vineyard is at 850 meters making it the highest vineyard in the Verona area. The vineyards will be fully converted to organic by 2018.img_1736

Vigneti Villabella Valpolicella DOC Classico “I Roccoli” 2014. Made from 60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Vineyards at 140 meters. Training system is traditional Veronese Pergola. The soil is limestone mixed with clay and harvest is in the beginning of October. Fermentation takes place in contact with the skins for 12 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for a time in stainless steel to preserve the fruitiness and freshness of the wine.

The winery is located at Calmasino in the province of Verona, in the heart of the Classico zone, on a hillside overlooking Lake Garda. They have 10 hectares of vineyards that are organically cultivated and another 13 which are being converted to organic cultivation.

The wine has a fruity bouquet with hints of cherries and raspberries and a touch of violets with good acidity and soft tannins.img_1737

Buglioni Valpolicella DOC Classico “Il Valpo” 2015. Vineyards at 80 meters. Made from 60% Corvina 25% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and 5% Croatina. The soil is dark, clayey and fertile with a high content of gravel, deep and drought resistant. The training system is double pergola with 2,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in early October.

There is a crushing and pressing of de-stemmed grapes. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature and maceration of the must for 10 days in contact with the skins, with daily pumping over. Malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is in steel tanks for 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release. It has a fragrant and intense aroma of cherries and wild red berries with good acidity. It is a wine to be drunk young.

The winery is located in Corrubbio di San Pietro in Cariano in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone.

Next time microclimate variations: The influence of Lake Garda

 

 

 

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Visiting the Tommasi Winery

Michele and I recently returned to Lake Garda, one of our favorite places in Northern Italy. We stayed in Bardolino, a picturesque town right on the lake. There are plenty of good hotels, restaurants, and, if you like that sort of thing, theme parks. The area is very lush, with olive trees, palm trees and flowers everywhere. Many wineries are within a short driving distance from the lake and I have visited several in the past. This time, I was determined to visit the Tommasi winery in Valpolicella, which is only a half hour away. This is a very traditional producer of Valpolicella and Amarone and I like their style of wine.

I made an appointment with Annalisa Armani, the PR person and marketing director. She greeted us when we arrived at the winery. Annalisa is very charming, interesting and informative not only about the winery but also about the wines. She began by telling us about the origins of Tommasi.

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“Magnifica”

Tommasi Vintners is a family affair. The estate is run by the 4th generation of the family working together each with his well defined area of responsibility. I mention this because we so often hear of family owned Italian wineries where the family members cannot work together

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Barrels from 1902

The cellar houses many different sized barrels. Annalisa led us down a double row of large barrels standing like an honor guard leading to “Magnifica” the world’s largest oak barrel that contains the equivalent of 44,000 bottles of wine. It was installed in 2010 and is in the Guinness Book of Records. Annalisa also showed us three historical barrels from 1902 when the company was founded, that were made by Giacomo Battista Tommasi.

The winery is situated in Pedemonte in the heart of the Valpolicella Classical Zone about a half hour from Lake Garda. There are 195 hectares of vines on the estate.

90 hectares of vines produce Bardolino, Custoza, Soave and Lugana and 105 hectares produce Amarone Classico, Ripasso Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classico Superiore and Recioto della Valpolicella.

Annalisa explained that the historical classical area of Valpolicella is northeast of Verona and looks like an open hand with four fingers pointing upward. These are the four separate valleys of the region where the warm breezes from Lake Garda meet the colder winds from the Lessini mountains, creating a perfect climate for the cultivation of vines, olives and cherries.

Annalisa led us through a tasting of the wines. This is not the order in which we tasted the wines but I listed them this way to explain the process of producing them more easily.IMG_5505

Amarone Classico 2010. The first vintage to be DOCG is made from 50% Corvina Veronese, 15% Corvinone 30% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta. Molinara grapes are no longer allowed for Amarone but can be used for Valpolicella.

The vines are on hillside terraces; the training system is high-density guyot. The Groletta and Conca d’Oro vineyards are located in the area of classic historical Valpolicella. The grapes are hand harvested.

Annalisa showed us the place where the grapes are dried for the Amarone. It is a very large room, called a fruttaio, with large windows on the sides that are left open when the grapes are drying. Annalisa made a point of saying that the drying of the grapes in the fall and winter is as important as the flowering and the maturing of the grapes during the spring and summer. The colder the weather the better it is for drying the grapes because they become more concentrated and raisin-like. Because the temperature is higher now than it was 10 years ago, they have installed fans and a system for removing the humidity. They do not want Botrytis (noble rot) to form on the grapes. There are some producers that now dry their grapes in warehouses that are temperature controlled with air-conditioning. IMG_5487

The grapes are placed in plastic boxes, which hold 5/6 kg and put on wooden racks to dry where cooling breezes in the autumn and winter until January dry them. This drying period is known as the appassimento. Annalisa said that this is an active period where the grapes lose about 50% of their weight and there is a concentration of the natural sugar.

Dried grapes in the old wooden boxes

Dried grapes in the old wooden boxes

This process gives the wine the key aromas and fruit flavors and raises the alcohol level. Amarone must be at least 14% alcohol. She also said that it takes grapes from 3 of the open plastic boxes to make one bottle of Amarone.

This wine was aged for 6 months in Magnifica and 2-1/2 years in large Slovenian oak barrels of 35HL, and one year in bottle before release.

Annalisa said that 2010 was a difficult vintage but the grapes were exceptional. A slow appassimento lasted until January 10. The grapes lost 40% of their weight and the final result was excellent. This wine will age.

Many producers make Amarone that has too much residual sugar and tastes more like the traditional dessert wine, but this is an Amarone that goes very well with food. It is a complex wine, full bodied, with aromas and flavors of ripe cherries, raisins, plums and a hint of balsamic.

Up until the 1950’s there was no Amarone being produced. The big wine of the area was Recioto della Valpolicella, which is a red dessert wine of 15% or more alcohol. Legend has that Amarone (meaning bitter) was discovered by accident but that is not the case. The producers needed an important dry wine so they decided to change the process a little and produce an Amarone.IMG_5508

Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC “Rafaèl” 2012. From the Rafaèl vineyard in the town of San Pierto in Cariano. The wine is made from 60% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 15% Molinara. Fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with 8 days maceration. The wine is aged in traditional Slovenian oak casks of 65 HL for 15 months. This is a fruity wine with flavors and aromas of ripe cherries and plums and hint of white roses IMG_5509

Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico”Fiorato” DOCG 2010 from grapes from the town of San Pietro in Cariano in Valpolicella Classico. Made from 65% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara. This is the traditional dessert wine produced in this region before the creation of Amarone. It is obtained from the fermentation of dried grapes. The grapes are dried for 5 months and then aged in 5hl barrels. This is a concentrated wine rich and fruity with hints of cherries, figs and plums and, for a dessert wine it is very elegant.IMG_5504

Valpolicella Classico Superiore “Ripasso 2012”made from 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Corvinone. The harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for about 9 days. After the juice for Amarone has been removed from the tanks, the Valpolicella for the Ripasso undergoes a second fermentation on the ‘live” skins of the grapes remaining in the tank for 12 to 13 days with daily pumping over. The wine is then aged for 15 months in Slovenian oak casks of 65 hl and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a wine with aromas and flavors of cherries, plums and raisins with a touch of spice and black pepper.

Recently a new law was passed that limits the production of Ripasso. For every bottle of Amarone, a producer can only make two bottles of Ripasso. The producers still have the grapes but can no longer make all the Ripasso that they want. They have now come up with a new wine called appassimento, which will be approved later in the year. IMG_5605

Amarone della Valpolicella Ca’ Florian Riserva 2007 made from 75% Corvina, 12% Corvinone and 20% Rondinella.  A single vineyard wine from the hills of San Pietro in Cariano at 250 meters with a southwest exposure. The training system is pergola Veronese and the average age of the vines is 30 years. Harvest is in the beginning October.

Only the best grape bunches are hand picked and placed in plastic boxes of 5/6 kg and naturally dried in the fruttaio. The grapes remain there until January when they are pressed. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration lasts for 30 days in wooden vats, using only natural yeasts. The Riserva must age for 4 years. The first year is in tonneau oak barrels of 500 liters and then 3 years in large Slovenian oak barrels and another year in bottle before release

This is a complex, full bodied and elegant wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, hint of plum, and blackberries with a touch of balsamic and spice. This wine will age.

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An Historic Wine Producing Family of the Veneto

Franco Bernabei is the consulting enologist for two different wineries in the Veneto and it was interesting to taste these wines on successive days.  Franco was present on one day, but not at the tasting the next day of the wines of Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve.

Giovanni Bertani

Representing the winery was Giovanni Bertani.  Before the tasting and lunch at the Club Metropolitan in the Metropolitan Tower, I had a chance to chat with him about his winery and the other wines of the Valpolicella and Soave areas.  Giovanni began the tasting by saying that his historic wine producing family has put their love of the Veneto and passion for wine into making high quality handcrafted wines at the Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve winery.

Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve was established in 1991 by Gaetano Bertani. The property had been owned by the Bertani family since the 1860’s and managed by Gaetano since 1971. Today Giovanni and Gugliemo, his two sons, assist him. Gaetano is the wine maker and the consulting enologist is Franco Bernabei.

The 21 hectare property is located at the border between the Valpolicella DOC and the Soave DOC areas. It is 16 kilometers from Verona inside the Val d’ Illasi zone which was colonized by the Romans since the Second Century B.C. The Pietra Romana, a Roman stone which lies in front of the Villa, has become the estate’s logo and is on the labels. Tenuta Santa Maria is part of the Colognola ai Colli commune.

The Tenuta Santa Maria alla Pieve wines were different from the wines I tasted the day before.  As Giovanni indicated, his father Gaetano is a hands-on winemaker and Bernabei is the consultant.

On the subject of new oak Giovanni said that the new oak barriques that they have are mostly for the Merlot ant the other barriques are second and thrid passage.

The Wines of Tenuta Sanata Maria Alla Pieve

Soave “Lepia” 2010 IGT made from 100% Garganega Veronese. The soil is clay with calcareous-marly subsoil. The training system is the pergoletta, and there are 3,800 ines per hectare. The grapes are harvested in September at different times of ripening and crushed separately, with cold pre-fermentation skin contact. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented. The wine is blended in January and racked in stainless steel tanks with the thin lees. Then there is a short bottle refinement. The wine has flavors and aromas of pears and peaches with a hint of almonds and nice minerality. I like this Soave because it reflects the indigenous grape and the terroir. $22

Chardonnay “Torre Pieve” 2008 IGT 100% Chardonnay. Giovanni explained that the training system is rammed cord of 9,500 vines per hectare with a maximum height of vegetation of 125 cm from the ground, a distance between each row of 110 cm, and from vineyard to vineyard one meter. He added that due to the training system, 80% of the work in the vineyard is done mechanically. The grapes are picked in the first half of September and cooled down a few degrees before pressing. The must rests to separate itself from the sediment. 50% of the wine is fermented and aged in new Allier barriques for about 150/180 days. The remainder is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel containers. In February/ March the wine is assembled and stored at an ideal temperature for another six months.  It remains in bottle for another 4 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of pineapple, citrus and a touch of banana. $35

Veneto  Praga” IGT 2010 Made from Shiraz and Merlot selected from three different clones. The training is rammed cord and there are 9,500 vines per hectare. Because of the high density of the vines, more than 80% of the vineyard’s management is mechanical. The winter pruning and the green harvest in spring and summer are done by hand.

The grapes are picked in the second half of September after reaching full ripening. Vinification is conducted with low temperature maceration and temperature controlled fermentation. After pressing, malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is kept in bottle for a short period before release. It was interesting to taste a wine made from these grapes aged in stainless steel. It is an elegant wine with hints of black cherries, blueberries and a hint of black pepper. Giovanni said that they wanted to produce a wine from international grapes that expressed the local terroir with the natural flavors of the grapes. $22

Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35

Giovanni said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso. 

Decima Aurea 2007 Veneto IGT made from 100% Merlot from 3 different clones. Giovanni explained that this wine was expressing the local terroir with an international grape variety by combining Merlot with the Veronese tradition of the drying process known as appassimento.

The vineyard is situated in the Val d’Illassi, 10 miles east of Verona, with north to south exposure on a slightly sloping hill. The soil is primary clay with deep calcareous layers.  Giovanni said the training system was rammed cord but the winter pruning, selection of spring buds, the thinning of the branches and the harvesting for part of the Merlot, which is usually done mechanically for the light appassimento style is done by hand.  Some of the grapes are picked in late September and left to dry for about a month in protected airy locales on the estate. Another part of the harvest takes place in the beginning of October when grapes are becoming over ripe. The two harvests are separated, low–temperature maceration and temperature-controlled fermentation takes place and then they are blended for fining in oak barriques for about 14 months. The wine remains in the bottle for a brief period before release. This wine was the most modern in style that I tasted and lovers of California wines will enjoy it. $45

Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35

Giovanni said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso.

Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006 made from 75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. The training system is the pergoletta and there are 5,600 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in wooden trays inside rooms with well-circulated air for 4/5 months. In the middle of January after reaching their desired sugar content and losing 25%/30% of their weight, the almost raisin like grapes are pressed and fermented for 25/30 days at controlled temperatures with daily pumping over. After a period of decantation and refining in French barriques and Italian oak tonneaux, where malolactic fermentation takes place. After 48 months the wine is bottled and remains for 6 months before release. It is a complex and elegant wine with hints of dried cherries, prunes and spice. The finish is very long and there is a lingering aftertaste. $90

 

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Filed under Amarone, Franco Bernabei, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Ripasso, Soave, Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve, Valpolicella