Friday, January 24, 2014

Report from ... Anteprima Amarone 2010, Day 2 - January 24, 2014

Day 2 promises to be a full day ... so let's take a look ...

The view out my window:  I woke up and took a look outside ...
yup I'm in Italy (just wanted to make sure)
After a quick continental-style breakfast
it was off to the original double arches to meet the bus.

Where we waited a few minutes while the driver negotiated Italian traffic
(can't beat Toronto at rush hour though - morning or afternoon)
Arrival at Castrum Relais - with some spectacular views of the region

A 4-hour seminar session in a restaurant ...
seemed confusing to many of us; but it soon became apparent.
Words of welcome from Olga Bussinello

Whose big announcement was the "Valpolicella Wines" app
(for both Google and Android - Windows coming soon)
Available in both English and Italian (more languages to come)
I downloaded it and it looks quite useful and not just for Valpolicella wines

Now it's time for the Diego Tomasi show, from the Centre for Research into Viticulture (CRA-VIT)
he talked about the affects of the Lisini Mountains and Lake Garda on the region;
called Valpolicella "lucky" for terroirs that are found "nowhere else in the world";
and said that winemakers were "landscape architects", referring to the dry stone walls.
Next up Fabrizio Battista, also from the CRA-VIT,
with a look at the grapes of Valpolicella.
... but first a look at grape varieties by country
... then by country:  Italy has 201 registered (472 cataloged),
while France has 87 (319 cataloged) - the surprise here is that
Australia has 85, and Fabrizio surmised it was because of all the
immigration from winemaking countries that Oz has seen.
As for the Valpolicella region: these are the officially recognized varieties
with Spigamonti (bottom of list) being the most recent addition (August 2013).
Seminars end with another reminder of all those grapes
(thankfully there was no test at the end).
Tasting and "Lunch" ...

Hosted by Alberto Franchi, a tasting of the regional wines
paired with traditional region fare.
Round 1 ... Wines were tasted blind with only regions given.
Left (1A) - Molina Area 2012 - fresh, fruity, red licorice and gentle spice
Right (1B) - Illasi Area 2011 - dark fruited, earthy, fuller mouthfeel with
a mineral aspect and some mushroom notes.
Paired with Monte Veronese Fresco (cheese), Polenta with Mushroom,
Crostini with olive oil and Soppressa veneta.
Round 2 ... Two more wine, this time a Valpolicella Superiore and a Ripasso
"not for comparative tasting, for pleasure with the food"
Paired with Lasagnette con ragu di coniglio (rabbit) and Risotto con tastal (sausage) ...
here the Italians prove my mother wrong: you don't need colour on the plate to make it right.
Same goes for course number three; I'll spare you the long names (and me from typing them)
and tell you that the smaller of the two is pork and the larger beef.
Round 3 ... Paired with 3 Amarones of different ages - and all three have I gave a nickname to:
Left (3A) - Fumano Area 2008 ... cherry and kirsch on the nose, with spiced cherry on the palate,
though there is the definite smell of alcohol on the nose.  "The Heat Sink"
Middle (3B) - Illisi Area 2007 ... dark cherry, plum, vanilla and cocoa aromas; nice balance of
fruit, spice and acidity on the palate.  "The Sipper"
Right (3C) - Negrar Area 2005 ... nose is quite closed but shows hints of vanilla and anise;
palate is rich with anise, earthy and spicy notes - opens slowly but when it does it pairs with
everything.  "The Companion"
We end with cheese ... as seems to be an Italian custom.

Le Marognole ... 
Established 2004 - 6 hectare property - family run - Production: 20,000 bottles
Some of this wine does make it's way to Canada.
Our first winery visit of the next 3 days
view from Le Marognole - over the vineyard
owned by this serious looking man: Fabio Corsi
- who is also the winemaker (he worked 7 years at Masi)
and he takes his winemaking very seriously
a look at, and through, his natural wood drying racks

outside (and in)
Fabio takes great pride in his natural air drying room

Old press being re-purposed
A look into the fully restored 400 year old wine cellar
And another - it is pretty impressive.
Time to taste some of the wines by the fire.

TOP 3 wines at Le Marognole ...

2009 Amarone Classico "Campo Rocco"
nose is raisiny with cherry, kirsch and balsamic
palate has cherry and plum, with hints of balsamic,
it's rich and chewy, elegant with ageability to spare
Silky tannin structure. (****+)
2009 El Nane - Rosso Veronanamed after Fabio grandfather (Giovanni)
dries the grapes for this wine for 100 days, bringing the alcohol to 15%
blackberry, cassis and cherry greet the nose while
on the palate there's cherry, raspberry, spice and floral notes;
rich cherry and plum on the finish with backing acidity. (****)
2010 Passito - Bianco del Veneto
made with Garganega and Castelli Romagni
thick mouthfeel that comes off as medium sweet
great pineapple skin, guava and kiwi notes - delicate and finishes pleasantly.
NOT exported due to quantity made: 1000 x 500ml bottles. (****+)
The Big Three

Stefano Accordini ...
about 50 years old - started with 3 hectares in 1974
now 14 hectares with plans to top our at 20 hectares
130,000 bottles produced - these wines also (occasionally) see Canadian shores.
Arrival at winery #2: Stefano Accordini
The fog rolling in to engulf the hillside (x4)

Today the face of the winery is Tiziano Accordini
The new tasting room, part of the new building, which was started in 2000 ...
and finally finished in 2010.
Our first barrel room visit of the trip - there will be more, guaranteed.
We were pressed for time due to a longer than expected lunch,
so we went right into the tasting.

TOP 3 Wines at Stefano Accordini ...

2006 Amarone Classico "Vigneto il Fornetto"
single vineyard offering made only in special years
nose of chocolate, black cherry and plum
palate is smoky-vanilla, spiced cherry, and rich plum
Alcohol comes in at 16.5% but shows none of it
full of character, finesse and elegance. (****+)
2011 Paxxo
mixed varieties (indigenous and international) and traditional appassimento (30 days)
20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot - picked in September and pressed in November
nose is full on black cherry; palate ports over the black cherry along with cassis,
and spice backed by nice acidity. (*** 1/2+)
2010 Amarone Classico "Acinatico"
this is the first vintage to get the DOCG
aromas of black cherry, plum, cherry and black raspberry
dark fruit driven palate, rich plum, with cocoa and vanilla (*** 1/2+)

Evening ends with a walk over to the Palazzo della Gran Guardia in Piazza Bra, where the Grand Tasting will be held tomorrow afternoon.  Along the way we passed these two things of interest:

Wine Bar ... with people enjoying wine on the cobblestone street out front.
A new sculpture in the plaza
Eying the tables full of wine at the Gala

Tables are set for dinner
Winemakers, Dignataries and Journalists milling about waiting for dinner to being.

Tomorrow's the big day - the Anteprima ... day begins in the morning, around 11am and there will be plenty to taste.  Stay tuned.

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