Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Report from ... Anteprima Amarone 2010, Day 5 - January 27, 2014

This is the big touring day folks ... this is the day we visited 4 wineries ... today we got to try some very old Amarone and I can now tell you from experience, the rumours are true, this wine is definitely one that ages very well ... let's take a look at the day's events ...

Breakfast ... the most important picture of the day
and here's what's for breakfast.

Today we started our day at San Felice, also known as
Tenute Falezza: established 1974, bottling since 2001
2011 Merlot Veronese
fresh and fruity (both and red and blue)
with nice acidity and a pleasant finish (*** 1/2+)

2011 Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore
a real heavy "door stop size bottle"
black cherry and spice dominate (*** 1/2+)
this wine with a matching finish.
I'm not sure why we keep coming across these crappy glasses (at many wineries)
they pour such lovely wines into - don't they know it ruins them???

Faye Cardwell (right) our guide and tour organizer talks with
Alberto Falezza (middle), sales director of Tenute Falezza while
Michela Prando (left), public relations, listens in.
With the dried grapes of 2013, this is the 2008 Amarone
nice smooth opening with a spicy middle and nice fruit
shows what a little bottle age does for this wine.

It's not a visit to an Italian winery if it doesn't
begin and end in the kitchen.
An interesting tasting of the 2008 / 2009 / 2010 Amarones with the
dried grapes of 2013.  The 2010 label has been updated in honour of
the vintage being the first to get DOCG status.
Lonely grapes left to hang in the San Felice vineyard.

Cantina di Soave ...
Visit number two today is at Cantina di Soave, established in 1898 by 30 producers ... today they boast 2200 growers/members, have 6000 hectares and produce some 30 million bottles.

We are at the smallest of their facilities, "dedicated to high quality brands":
Rocca Sveva, where they make 400,000 from only 100 member vineyards.
Usually I don't take a lot of cellar pictures, but it's interesting
to note that their cellar is 300 meters under the peak of Monte Tenda ...

and consists of some 2500 m2 worth of caves that were once bunkers in WWII.
A look at the Champagne-style sparkling, Quipe 5, made from
80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir left 36 months on lees (tasting to follow).
Time to sit down for our tasting ...
4 years of Amarone: 2006 / 2004 / 2001 / 2000 - most impressive:
2001 - developing very well with rich mocha/chocolate, vanilla and spice ...
chewy fruit great plumminess with sweet entry, clean dry finish.
2000 - well evolved coffee, mocha, and spice on the finish;
hedonisticly rich and full but it's that coffee-mocha-spice that shines here.

Lunch and the Wines ...

Cheese and veggie pie served with cured ham
paired with 2008 Quipe 5 Brut ...
crisp yet fruity - fresh floral notes,
but it's the great fruit and nice acidity (****)
alongside these dried dough with Sopressa (sausages)
Risotta with Soave and Monte Veronese cheese

paired with 2012 Castelcerine Soave Superiore ...
nice tart apple and pear but lovely lemon and pith notes (*** 1/2+)
Dessert was this chocolate cake, Chantilly cream and pineapple combo
alongside this a glass of Recioto di Soave Classico (reviewed below)
2009 Recioto di Soave Classico ...
made from 90-day dried Garganega with 40% weight loss before vinification;
pineapple, apricot jam, dried apple, honey peach - acidity adds freshness (****+)

Corte Adami ...
40 year old vineyard over 15 hectares making 80,000 - 90,000 bottles ... started bottling their own wine in 2008 using about 30% of their grapes, the rest gets sold to the co-op.

Our welcoming committee.
The selection of wines available.
2011 Valpolicella Superiore ...
plenty of dark fruit in the middle and nice spice on the finish
there's is some woody-blackberris on the nose (call it earthy)
- grapes are 30 days dried - (*** 1/2+)
2011 Ripasso Superiore ...
black cherry and white pepper aromas; on the palate spice kicks things off
adding black cherry, black raspberry, anise and cocoa; enjoyable finish that
brings back the white pepper and lingers the black cherry. (****)
A view of Castelo di Soave from right outside
the door of Corte Adami.
We the take a 30-minute drive to their vineyard
in the Montorio area
will spectacular view of the town below

Through the thicket of vines and lonely leftover grapes.
Study in Vine Age Comparison ...

7 year old vine - bottom
40 year old vine - bottom

7 year old vine - top
40 year old vine - top
7 year old vines
40 year old vines

A cross-cut look at the soils they grow in

Bertani ...
Established 1857 and is one of the first producers to make Amarone wines - this is really a piece of history visit and tasting:

This winery celebrated 150 years in 2007.
This is the proper way to bike in Italy.
Yes, this is a tank - but it's a concrete tank (still in use)
originally create for Bertani in 1932.
Interesting wood comparison in the barrel room ...
dark wood (right) is French oak, the light wood (left) is Slovinian oak
P.S. Metal things in the middle are tanks.
Bertani began making Amarone in 1959, then it was called
Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone or Recioto tipo Secco (dry)
name was change to "Amarone della Valpolicella" in 1990
These were typical shipping boxes made of wood and held 24 bottles each
More interesting notes about barrels - they use the large barrels (left)
for indigenous grapes and the smaller barrels (right) for international varieties.
Two big barrels ...
(left) Cherry wood - enhances cherry flavours in Corvina
(right) Chestnut wood - enhances tannins
The wine library
Oldest bottles date back to 1939.
Finally we're ready to sit down and taste with winemaker,
Christian Ridolfi, and he has a treat for us.
3 Amarones: 2006 / 2005 / 1967
All corks were in perfect condition - even the '67.

The Wines ...
All Bertani Amarones are made the same way: 80% Corvina to 20 Rhondinella; 6 years in large barrels and the grapes get 4 months of drying (has been that way since 1958).
2011 Villa Novare - Vigneto Ognisante Valpolicella Classico Superiore ...
highly drinkable with cherry fruit and cranberry-style acidity, soft tannins and mild minerality
The Villa Novare is a 220 hectare plot they bought in 1957 - Vigneto Ognisante is a small vineyard inside
2006 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ...
delicate cherry, clove, cinnamon and tea aromas, lead to a palate of
red fruit, spice, clove and a complexity that will stay that way awhile.
It's a vintage good wine for aging. (****+)

2005 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ...
red licorice, cherry, kircsh and plum greet the nose; the palate is
smooth and supple, almost sexy, with luscious and juicy red fruit. (****)
1967 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ...
this particular wine did not follow the usual recipe ... it was bottled in 1981,
after 12 years of barrel age
The nose is complex and alluring with tobacco, fig, truffle, and dried red fruits;
Palate is round and full of cherry-tobacco from the get go, dried red fruits show
up a little later, and it's smooth, supple with a good backbone of acidity ...
beautiful, especially considering its age.

Dinner ...
Alas, another dinner that turned out to be a total train wreck ... though here we had some very interesting wines to taste because some in the group decided to bring either something they purchased or received during the trip ...
Terre di Leone 2006 Dedicatum ...
smooth and easy drinking, nice dark fruit, elements of cocoa,
a really good sipper with not sharp edges ...
It should be noted here that I bullied Carolyn Henry into bringing
this bottle to the dinner - she kept talking about it so I told her
to put her money where her mouth is ... and she did.
Venturini 2001 Amarone Classico ...
silky smooth at first but opens after a few minutes to reveal a real backbone
cocoa, spice, raspberry, black cherry, all with the right amount of bite.
Tenuta Sant'Antonio 2010 Amarone - Seleczione ...
big, rich and young - fruit forward with gentle spice,
good evolution is inevitable for this one.

One of two of the better dishes from dinner:
Beef with rosemary and grana
Millefoglie della casa (homemade Millefeuille)

There are plenty of good take home memories from this trip: the aged Amarones, the lunches of super thin pasta, the scenery is always beautiful ... but there are also some negatives: the food at the end of the day (I'm talking dinner) was mostly sub-par and way too much, whatever happened to a simple pizza and beer dinner at a nice pizza joint ... that kind of simplicity would go a long way.  Otherwise it was a great trip with lots of learnin' and some really great wines.