Jul 8, 2013

Valpolicella Tour: Tedeschi


During my visit to Valpolicella, Italy, this July I made it a priority to visit the Tedeschi estate in San Pietro di Cariano, 15 km from Verona. Tedeschi is family-owned and Sabrina Tedeschi herself met us in the morning and gave a tour in the cellar as well as wine tasting.

Sabrina Tedeschi at the wine cellar at San Pietro di Cariano
The Tedeschi family grew their business to larger export sales in the 1980s. Market reception of their wines has been positive as Tedeschi's wines seem to be very approachable in their youth due to their friendly, moderate tannin structure, and the style being fruit-driven. Only moderate tannin is extracted while at the same time fruit extraction is great. Looking at professional reviewers, most reviewers agree on the fruit-driven style however also praise the depth of the wines, which adds to the tasting experience. And the price-quality ratio seems one of the best in Valpolicella for the lower end of their range of wines.

As most consumers drink their wines young, Tedeschi has found a formula for success. Even their 2008 Amarone was already drinking surprisingly well at its youth, however you should not discount their maturation potential, as the amarones are worth cellaring for 10+ years. Big Slavonian oak is used for the amarones.

A few remarks on the most interesting wines below:

The flagship wine - Monte Olmi Amarone 

Tedeschi’s flagship wine, the Capitel Montel Olmi Amarone, is a single cru wine from grapes grown in a 2.5 ha vineyard on the Pedemonte hill in the heart of Valpolicella which the family purchased in 1918. The vineyard faces south-west and its soil is red clay and limestone. The density of wines is only 3,500 as the vineyard is built on terraces, thus reducing the annual production quantity. Interestingly, the wine is a blend of 9 grapes - 30% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, and the rest 10% comprising Molinara, Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara, Dindarella, Croatina and Forselina. Similar to the Amarone Classico, grapes are dried for 4 months and in January a slow alcoholic fermentation in temperature controlled tanks follows with temperatures as low as 15 celsius.

Given the low temperatures, the fermentation and maceration processes are very slow. The low temperature used in fermentation and maceration is traditional in amarone wine making, portraying the inside temperature in the winter time in Northern Italy in January/February. Slavonian oak barrels are used for maturation for 2-3 years.

The 2007 Monte Olmi had significantly more backbone from higher tannins and grip than the regular Amarone. It is up to the consumer to judge which style to prefer, however this one is made for longer cellaring and should reward the keeper in the long term. The Monte Olmi is a wine with such density and tannin that you should cellar these wines and drink the other Tedeschi wines in the meanwhile as the estate has a range for both short-term consumption and long-term cellaring.

The regular Amarone 2008

Tedeschi’s regular Amarone della Valpolicella is a good deal indeed for its price. Made of grapes grown on the Mezzane and Tregnano hills, the vines have an average age of 20 years and are planted 5,500 per hectare. The wine is a blend of 7 grapes - 30% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, and the rest 10% comprising Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara and Dindarella. Grapes are dried for 4 months after the October harvest in a humidity controlled facility, after which they are pressed softly. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration are done in a low 15 celsius temperature. Finally, the wine is aged in Slavonian oak.

2009 Corasco Appasimento Breva

From three different grapes, 70% Corvina (grown in Moraine Hills in Valpolicella), 20% Refosco (grown in Aquileia, Friuli) and 5% Raboso (grown in Oderzo, Treviso). The name of the wine comes from the three grapes used in making it, CORvina, RAbosa and refoSCO.

Made in the appassimento style, grapes were dried for only one month which is one fourth of the duration if making Amarones. During the appasimento process, the grapes lose one third of their weight as they dry, thus leaving a higher concentration of fruit and sugar, giving the otherwise fruity dry young wine a feeling of sweetness in the mouthfeel as well as depth.

Matured 1.5 years in big Slavonian oak. A very round wine with ripe fruit and raspberry, menthol, chocolate and spicy notes dominating. Also white pepper, vanillin and cherries. The addition of Refosco gives the wine a nice personality. Acidity is pleasant. A very good everyday wine. For some 13 euro a great buy. Will develop further, however enjoyable now.

Valpolicella Tour: Tommaso Bussola

Tommaso Bussola is one estate you shouldn't miss when travelling to the Valpolicella region.

The estate lies among the very top estates in quality its wines, made in artesan wine making style, and compared to the older and definitely more pricey estates of Quintarelli and Dal Forno, Tommaso Bussola's wines are low priced for the awesome quality they offer.

Tommaso Bussola's artesan wine making and wines are extraordinary, crafted by passionate people and in small quantities.

As producers like Tedeschi are believers in controlled wine making and state-of-the-art grape drying facilities, Tommaso Bussola believes in all natural wine making techniques where technological advances doe not play a role.

We were glad to meet Daniela at the estate who gave us a presentation on the wines. Her husband, Tommaso, is the man behind the operations with help of their son Paolo.

We tasted only the "TB" range at the estate.

I have to state that though Quintarelli and Dal Forno are world renowned masters in Amarone production, Tommasso Bussola ranks in my books with them, however with significant advantage in price you have to pay for a bottle since the before mentioned producers are definitely on the high end.

Especially their flagship Amarone (Vigneto Alto, tasted the 2006 vintage) is a true beauty, something to really look for and the best wine I had during the trip to Valpolicella. Artesan winemaking was very evident from the wines since they had  a special feeling to them. The wine spends 4 years in French oak. Really concentrated wine with such a ripeness of fruit that it is almost sweet on the mouthfeel -tobacco, espresso notes being very eminent. The best grapes are used for the Vigneto Alto.

It seems that using double barriques makes a difference in amarones, Tommaso Bussola uses them a lot.

Production is limited to 20,000 thousand for Amarones, 25,000 for Valpolicella Ca del Laito, and under 10,000 bottles per each of the rest of range.

The "Ca del Laito" 2008 is a Valpolicella Superiore which is very good in its own class. Recommended. Full bodied and with great tannin structure. Blueberries, chocolate and dark berries. The Valpolicella Classio 2007 offers more toasty and tobacco notes compared to "Ca del Laito".

Plus a really interesting IGT Rosso Veronese:

L'Errante 2007 (IGT Rosso Veronese)

My travel companion said that she has maybe never had a wine as great as the L'Errante 2007.

A red bordeaux blend (merlot 50%, cabernet sauvignon 25%, cabernet franc 25%) with limited production of only 8,000 bottles from a vineyard located in Negrar.

This extraordinary wine boasts aromas of espresso, chocolate, plum & blueberry & blackcurrant leaves mixed together in a highly concentrated package. It is very velvety, round and beautiful all the way to the lingering finish. Outstanding structure.

The wine is quite unique, albeit other producers try to experiment with similar grapes and winemaking style.
Made in amarone style, i.e. the grapes go through appasimento (grape drying). With a huge 16.5% abv, the wine is still miraculously in balance as the extraction of fruit is superb and the wine has sweet tannins. Both French oak and American oak was used (mostly French, and new), and my liking this wine is surprising since I am not a fan of American oak used in old-continent wines, however I still adored this wine.

With €40 you get a very good wine at a reasonable price. The wine is approachable now however will surely develop into a hedonistic piece of heaven with further maturation and should well last 10+ years. It is definitely worth trying now however rewards cellaring.