Wine column: Amarone’s quality stems from Italian heritage

It’s time to break out the big reds! Red wines are outselling crisp whites, and one style of wine that’s very popular is Amarone. My son-in-law, Ramon, went to Antica Bottega del Vino in Verona this spring, home to an association called the Amarone Family (composed of 13 family-owned producers). One of the founders was in town last month — Stefano Cesari from Brigaldara winery — with a mission to promote the wines and their history.

He told the story of this very old restaurant (dating to the 16th century) that was failing and how in 2009 the Amarone Family invested in this bottega, not to just sell their wines, but also to offer some of the best wines in the world. Their wine list and the food have won awards. It’s also a beautiful place for the Amarone Family to take their customers to do business.

The platform of this association is to preserve the quality and history of Amarone, and to be guardians of the earth and vine health without the use of herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers, using insects to battle vine issues. These methods result in higher quality grapes and, therefore, high-quality wines — at the expense of production. Stefano says he doesn’t worry about how many tons are produced, only the level of quality.

Native varietals Corvina and Corvinone, Rondinella, and smaller amounts of other Italian varieties such as Molinara and Oseleta are used to make the wines in the region of Valpolicella.

Production of Amarone is labour-intensive and expensive. They start by considering what grapes will be picked for Amarone, because the Consorzio sets the annual allowable percentage of production. Stefano says, “this year will be 40 percent. So, we go into the vineyard to choose the best grapes — up to 40 percent of production. The best grapes aren’t always the ripest but are mostly the less-compact bunches. These grapes are put into small cases that are set in a warehouse and left to dry until January (at least four months) before being crushed. This drying process is called appassimento.

After picking the Amarone grapes, they go back into the same vineyard and pick the rest of the grapes to produce Valpolicella — a fresh, easy-drinking, everyday wine that Stefano says is perfect for lunch, for pizza, spicy pasta and hot days.

The third wine produced is called Ripasso. Consumers love this wine because the production process involves both

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Lifestyle


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