It’s the finest and most iconic wine of Valpolicella, a region in which the Bolla wine company has made its home since 1931, honing and perfecting the Amarone style and setting new standards for a wine that’s sought out by wine lovers all over the world
There is a place in north eastern Italy, not far from Verona and Lake Garda, that a wine lover cannot miss: Valpolicella.
As an appellation, Valpolicella, which extends into the eastern part of Verona province, is made up of a little under 20,000 acres. Its most historic area of wine production is in the western region, known as Classic. This zone includes five municipalities: Negrar di Valpolicella, Marano di Valpolicella, San Pietro in Cariano, Fumane, and Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella.
The Bolla wine company, founded by Alberto Bolla in Soave in 1883, has its headquarters in San Pietro in Cariano, where Alberto decided to move in 1931 to make red Valpolicella wine.
Valpolicella benefits from a mild climate and, thanks to its many gentle hills and abundance of water, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Here people have always made wines with local grapes, most of which are red, the most important being Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella.
Today, the main wines are Valpolicella (a fresh and fruity everyday wine), Valpolicella Ripasso (a full-bodied Valpolicella with the flavours of Amarone), Amarone (a dry red wine made with dried grapes) and Recioto della Valpolicella (a sweet red wine).
The finest and most iconic wine of Valpolicella is Amarone. The grapes destined for its production are carefully selected on the vine and harvested by hand, then placed in small, shallow crates and dried in specially ventilated drying rooms for at least 100 days. The local farmers refer to this as “the grapes’ resting time”: a period during which the berries lose water and weight and sugars are concentrated. This process is followed by meticulous vinification and long ageing in wood. The outcome is a dry, rich red wine with a wide range of aromas and flavours including cherries, plums, chocolate, tobacco, mint and dried fruits. The wines have a velvety texture, and are sought after and appreciated all over the world.
Bolla and its Amarone della Valpolicella
“Amarone is a vital, energetic wine because it is made from dried grapes, yet is also fresh, with excellent acidity and long life,” says Bolla’s director, the winemaker Christian Zulian.
“As a wine it represents a rare combination of factors: native varieties which have never changed, with a special aptitude for drying, and a winemaking know-how that has been perfected over the centuries. Man, environment, nature: a very rare interaction”.
In the past, a dry red wine made from dried grapes was not widely known because the style didn’t conform to public tastes at the time. But it was Alberto Bolla’s favourite wine. When he turned 80, his first son, Giorgio, who was also a winemaker, decided to make a special bottle of such a wine, as a gift. He labelled the bottle Recioto Amarone Riserva del Nonno 1950.
It was April 13, 1953 and the very first bottle of modern Amarone as we now know it was born.
“It was Bolla that gave dignity to this wine, which up until then had been only made for family consumption,” Zulian explains.
“Amarone della Valpolicella is a DOCG, which represents the highest quality among Italian wines. The competent authority has certified as DOCG all our bottles of Amarone, even the very first ones from 1953. We are the only wine company to obtain this accreditation.”
Today, Bolla manages over 700 acres of vineyards in the Classic Valpolicella zone. The grapes that produce its top Amarone wines come from the best vines on the hills of Negrar, Marano, and Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella.
Depending on the blend of varieties, their origin, and the ageing process, three different Amarones are made: each of them original and recognisable, yet unmistakably Bolla-style.
Amarone della Valpolicella
The grapes come from terraced vineyards in the hills of Negrar and Marano, carefully selected and then placed in Bolla’s drying rooms for 120 days. After pressing and fermentation in steel tanks, malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques and large casks. The wine is aged in barriques of French and American oak and later in large casks for two years. It spends another year in concrete vats, and at least three months in bottle before release. As a wine it is warm and mouth-filling, with aromas of small berries, cherries and spices, and long and clean, with a lingering finish.
Amarone della Valpolicella
DOCG Classico “Rhetico”
Rhaetians were a pre-Roman people who made wines much appreciated by the Romans themselves. This Amarone aims to recall those times. The grapes are from our vineyard in the village of Torbe, in the Negrar hills. The blend includes just Corvina and Rondinella varieties. The final wine has aromas of sour cherry, cocoa and sweet spice, succulent on the palate, with a clean and long finish.
Amarone della Valpolicella
DOCG Classico Riserva “Le Origini”
This is the most important of Bolla’s Amarones, the Riserva: a blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella from old vines in the Marano hills. Ageing takes place in large casks for many years to create a wine that’s rich and round, with intense notes of red fruits, cherries in brandy, and tobacco. The wine is long and velvety on the palate, nuanced with dried fruit, cherries, plums, and chocolate. A wine that’s worth enjoying quietly on its own, or perhaps savouring with some good roasted meat.
Feature sponsored by Bolla
For more information, contact
Gruppo Italiano Vini S.p.A. 37011 Calmasino –VR-Italy