Showing posts with label Valpolicella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Valpolicella. Show all posts

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dry Up And Make Amarone

Amarone della Valpolicella is a rich Italian wine made from dried grapes.  The heightened  flavors, aromas, color and tannins of Amarone owe everything to its production technique.  A bottle of Masi Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009, was provided by a public relations firm for review.

Masi owner Raffaele Boscaini is the seventh generation to run his family's wine estate.  The Masi website calls Amarone a "modern wine with an ancient heart."  It is imported in the US by Kobrand.  The wine has a slightly higher alcohol content than many wines - 15% abv - and it retails for $63.

Senior editor Alison Napjus, of Wine Spectator, says, "What’s impressive about Amarone is that it's a wine that can be enjoyed in its youth - it's very personable - and it also has the capacity to age, and a lot of that has to do with the production technique, appassimento."

In appassimento, the bunches of grapes - Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara - are placed in trays to dry out.  They spend several months in this drying process.  The grapes are left lighter and more concentrated after the loss of that water weight.

The  2009 Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico had a broken cork, but it was pushed down into the bottle without much of a problem and with no serious floaties.  The palate shows beautiful dried meat and dried fruit, roasted coffee beans, cherry, black olive and spices - mainly clove.  The tannins are quite prominent, as is everything else about this wine which Will Not Be Ignored.  It really overmatched the pasta and red sauce, but hit a good mark with the Buffalo Gorgonzola.  However, drinking this wine with cheese is like using a Ferrari to drive the two blocks to the store.  Have a steak.


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Friday, November 29, 2013

Bertani Amarone Vertical Tasting & Luncheon

It was a good afternoon in Beverly Hills.  More than once, I heard that comment from attendees at a lunch and vertical tasting of Bertani Amarone at Via Alloro on November 1, 2013.  "Skip cleaning the apartment for a vertical tasting of Amarone?  Sure!  Oh, there's lunch, too?  Cool.  Where are we going next?"  Many thanks to Palm Bay International for staging this event and for inviting me to attend.

Winemaker and Bertani technical director Andrea Lonardi (pictured) presided over a tasting six Amarone vintages from the Bertani estate covering five decades: 2006, 1998, 1990, 1981, 1973, 1964.  Bertani holds back half of all production of their wines from each vintage, so each of these wines is currently available for sale in the US.  There were a few other Bertani wines included, too, as if the vertical wasn't enough.

Things got rolling with an introductory mingle featuring many wine people, iPhones ablazing.  Pictures, notes, exchange of business cards were conducted while enjoying the Bertani Bertarose Rosé.

Lonardi studied in the south of France, worked in Argentina, Chile, Washington state and Sonoma before taking the job with Bertani.  I asked him where his dream vineyards would be: "Burgundy for Chardonnay, Bordeaux for Cabernet Franc and southern France for Grenache," he said.

Techniques have changed over past 50 years.  Lonardi says they used to harvest in October, but now do so in September due to climate change.  Their grapes get at least three months of drying time between harvest and crush.  They still dry grapes just like they did 50 years ago, on straw mats.

Bertani was founded in 1857 by two brothers.  They became négociants around Verona, then bought vineyards in Valpollicella and started growing their own.  The first of their wines brought to the US was labeled SECCO BERTONI to differentiate it from the sweet wines popular in that day.

Amarone's slight bitterness is delightful, and it's the reason for its name.  "Amaro" means "bitter" in Italian.  The style was first made when the cellar master forgot to stop fermentation on a sweet wine.  It came out dry, and it was good.  A tradition was born completely by accident.

Bertani's vineyards stretch out across all the wine producing areas of Verona, from Valpolicella to the Valpntena - the valley of the gods - to lakeside Bardolino to the easternmost hills of Soave.  The different soil types in these areas allow the winery to express a number of different terroirs in their wines.

The Amarone vertical:

Overall, I found the alcohol and tannic structure became more noticeable as we drank through the years.  Fruit also comes more to the forefront in the younger vintages.  Lonardi's favorite is the '73.  I like 'em all, but the two oldest really fascinated me.  The prices are suggested retail.

1964 Amarone Classico  $450
Vintage report: The spring was wet, while the summer was dry, as were September and October.
This wine aged for 18 years in large Slavonian oak barrels and was bottle in the fall of 1983.  15% abv.
Brick, with a browning edge.  Lonardi commented, "The '64 is really outstanding today."  Elegant, with a nose of raisins, orange peel, coffee and caramel.  On the palate, the wine is very easy in the mouth.  The alcohol isn't even noticeable.  Spices and cherry fruit are subdued by iron-like minerals.

1973 Amarone Classico  $300
Vintage report: Ideal temperature and rainfall during spring and summer.
Aged nine years in large Slavonian oak barrels, this one was bottled in the spring of 1983.  15% abv.
Brick colored, browning at the rim.  The nose shows raisin and candied orange peel.   Again, elegant.  An easy feeling palate with big coffee notes and alcohol again not a factor.  More high mineral flavors. Absolutely no trace of alcohol on the palate, very easy to sip.

1981 Amarone Classico  $230
Vintage report: Average rainfall.  August and September were hot.
After nine years aging in those Slavonian oak barrels, the wine was bottled in the spring of 1991.  15.2% abv.  Red color, brick rim.  Raisins and sweeter notes of brown sugar and dark chocolate grace the nose, while flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, black tea and orange peel highlight the palate.  Tannic structure firm.  Alcohol starts to come into play.  Paired with mushroom risotto, the raisin notes really come forward.

1990 Amarone Classico  $300
Vintage report: Ideal season.  Rain in the spring, warm, dry summer.
This vintage took six years aging in Slavonian oak and was bottled in the fall of 1999.  15% abv.
Ruby, with a brick edge.  Candy orange, cherry and baker's chocolate on the nose.  Big cherry notes, black tea and a hint of raisins on the palate.  Big fresh tannins are more noticeable, great acidity, grip on the finish.

1998 Amarone Classico  $190
Vintage report: Average temperatures and rainfall in the spring, hot in July, August and September.
This wine aged for six years in Slavonian oak and was bottled in the spring of 2005.
Deep ruby core, brick rim.  Aromas of raisin, cherry, tea and coffee grounds.  The palate features a brilliant acidity with bright cherry flavors and black tea on the finish.  Alcohol steps forward, great tannic structure.  Nice and dry.

2006 Amarone Classico  $130
Vintage report: Normal rainfall during the spring and no rain in July.  Frequent light rain in the first half of August.
The wine aged for six years in oak and was bottled in the of winter 2012.  15.4% abv.
Ruby, just starting to brick at the rim.  It's all big, bright cherry on the nose with slight raisin notes and a touch of tea.  On the palate, fresh cherry, firm tannins and lively acidity make for a very vibrant wine. Notes of coffee and tea finish the pleasure.

The other Bertani wines included in the presentation:

Bertarose Rosé  $15 - Copper hue. pleasant strawberry nose, palate light, dry and refreshing, great acidity
50% Merlot and 50% Molinara., fermented on the skins

Sereole Soave $20 - 100% Garganega, straw, green tint.  On the nose, nutty salinity, wet rocks.  Palate shows tart peach, lovely acidity, herbal, salinity. Great with the radicchio and arugula salad. Stood up well to the radicchio.

Original Vintage Edition 2009 $32 - A replication of the first Bertani wine produced in the 1800s.  It is made from 80% original Corvina clones (Rizza, Nera and Corvinone) with a 20% mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and and Syrah.  Aged in chestnut and cherry wood, not oak.  First in cherry 2-5 months, then in chestnut to 18 months.  The nose shows spices and cherries with bright, fresh cherry flavors.  A touch of cinnamon and nutmeg are a delight.  Great acidity and tannic grip.

Villa Arvedi Amarone 2008 $60 - 70% Corvina Veronese and 30% Rondinella, the wine is produced in true Amarone style.  the grape bunches are harvested and taken to farmhouses where they are left to dry on straw mats for about four months.  This raisins the grapes and concentrates the natural sugars.  Aromas are highlighted by dark black cherry, with flavors of really savory cherry and huge tannins on the palate.  Great with the lamb shank.

Recionoto della Valpolicella Valpantena DOC $37 - 80% Corvina Veronese and 20% Rondinella, this dessert wine is produced Amarone-style and left to dry on straw mats for about five months, then slow fermented for about a month.  Aging takes place for 18 months in French oak barriques, half of them new.  It has a big, sweet nose of raisins and brown sugar and an even sweeter palate showing raisins, caramel and mocha.  It rocked the warm chocolate tart completely.


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Thursday, January 6, 2011

LE BINE VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2008 AT VIA ALLORO


Le Bine Valpolicella

The Drago family operates a number of fine Italian restaurants in Los Angeles - so many it's difficult to get around to all of them. Via Alloro in Beverly Hills had been on my list for some time, and a Saturday afternoon "park-and-dine" experience afforded me the perfect opportunity to have lunch there.

"Park-and-dine" is a method Denise and I resort to occasionally that helps us deal with the frustration of trying to find a parking space near a restaurant where we'd like to dine.  Due to the fact that so many Los Angeles parking meters are taken over by valets these days - and we don't do the valet thing - we will simply find a place to park, then look for a restaurant near the parking space.  As backward as that is, we have actually found many good restaurants through the "park-and-dine" method.

We parked in Beverly Hills on the way to another restaurant, and passed Via Alloro on the way there.  I suggested we cut the walk short and find a table.

Via Alloro is a Tanino Drago establishment.  Good Italian food - as expected - comes simple and rustic, just the way we like it.  I ordered the Le Bine Valpolicella Ripasso by Giuseppe Campagnola on recommendation of our server, and I liked it.

Dark in color with a lighter purple ring at the edge, the wine shows dark leathery cherry and raspberry aromas, while the taste is full bodied and mellow.  Soft tannins make it a great sip and nice acidity make a good choice for food.  It went very well with my risotto with sausage and broccoli despite the "greenness" of the dish.  The wine is $12 by the glass.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MONTE ZOVO VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO 2007


Monte Zovo Valpolicella

Birthday month rolls on for Denise, and we dropped in on Il Buco again.  I've mentioned them before, with good reason.  The food is excellent, the service is unfailingly pleasant and the wine list is very Italian and fairly deep.  It's no surprise, then, that we ended up there for birthday lunch.

I went with a sausage dish and decided to have a red wine.  I asked the waiter for a good choice, and he pointed me in the direction of a California Meritage, Malibu, in fact.  I would like to try that wine, but as I explained to him, when I go to Il Buco, I like to go Italian.  He immediately suggested this Valpolicella, and I said that it would be fine.

The Monte Zovo Ripasso is the sort of wine I have come to expect from Il Buco, very Italian, a bit rustic and a great match with the food they make.  It's from the Valpolicella region of Veneto in the northeastern part of Italy.

The grapes used are Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (10%).  I'm told Ripasso means "second pressing," indicating the juice is re-fermented on the skins used in making Amarone, which is a "first-pressing" wine.  It's fairly hefty at 14% abv, yet it feels only medium full in the mouth.  It's a deep garnet color with a demomstrative nose of black cherry and blackberry.
 
The palate shows some dry, dusty, brambly notes which are suggestive of an old-vine Zinfandel.  The flip side of that coin is the freshness that this wine carries with it.  It spends two years in oak, yet the wood seems not to leave its mark as indelibly as it might with other grapes.

I enjoyed this wine with the farfalle and sausage plate.  The pairing was excellent.