Fattori, 'Col de la Bastia', Amarone della Valpolicella
Made from the classic grape varieties in Valpolicella and grown in very specific sites, this is a stunning, powerful and rich wine that has immense intensity and structure, alcohol and body. Remarkably balanced, it is a wine for a special occasions and worth savouring every drop.
Amarone is made by harvesting fully ripened grapes and leaving them to dry in (traditionally bamboo) wooden crates called Fruttaio for up to five months over the winter after harvest. The semi-dried grapes are then vinified and the knock-on effect of this drying is simply mind-blowing. The alcohol, colour, flavour, structure and acid in the wine all increase in proportion because of the removal of water from the grapes (grapes are about 85% water content); and, because these other components increase together, they retain balance in the resultant wine. Now, balance is a loose enough concept because the wines that come out of this process are immensely full-bodied and rich, but they are absolutely delicious.
Antonio Fattori is a fascinating character who built a very fine reputation for producing elegant and terroir-focused white wines. We had the privilege of visiting him in 2011 and tasted through wonderful expressions of the vineyards and soil structures around his winery, right in the heart of the Soave DOC. Glad of the attention to his craft, he took us to the basement of the cellars under his house whereupon there is an immense stone wall - to remind him of the soil, perhaps? No, it was actually the actual mountain... they couldn't build any further. So rooted in the soils and context is he, that it was no real surprise that when, after dinner, he produced some experimental red wines, he named them after their vineyard areas rather than the names we expected (Amarone and Ripasso). Now, the vineyard name and area is still on the label, but so too the legal designation. what really impresses however, is the intensity which is balanced by freshness. This particular site is really interesting in the Valpolicella/Soave zone as it has absolutely no volcanic soil, just limestone, clay and shale.
- Red Meats
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