January 2011 Diary

First things first: Michelle Lovric’s book The Mourning Emporium has come out in an Italian edition. The U.K. Publisher has made a trailer for her books The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium. To see it, click here.


January 29 The Annual Amarone tasting.
(For notes on other annual Amarone tastings, just whiz down to the January slot of previous years. To read my notes from an interesting tasting of older Amarone vintage that I conducted, go to the November 2010 diary. For more on the background of Amarone go to the Wine & Dine section of this website.)

All the Amarones below are from the 2007 vintage.

Accordini, Stefano “Acinatico” Opaque blue-black center with a rich ruby sheen. On the nose: bright with a creamy undertow. On the palate, the wine has a sprightly acidity that buoys a broad, precise ribbon of cherry fruit. Clean, fruit-filled finish. The wine is already on the market.

Antolini, Pierpaolo & Stefano Diffused black-cherry color. A green note on the palate. Very silky texture. A salinity. Compressed elegance. It still needs time in order to show at its best. (A note on the 2006 Antolini can be found in the November diary).

Monte Faustino di Paolo Fornaser Deep color. Fresh cherries with a light, fresh infusion of tobacco. Very spicy, warm fruit. Well-knit. I detect a note of crabapple syrup. It will be released onto the market in two years.

Monte del Fra (from a barrel sample). I will have to try this in a year to understand how it will develop. It will be released on the market in two years.

Guerrieri Rizzardi (barrel sample) Opaque, Freshness emerges from the glass like a spring breeze. Compact fruit. It will be released on the market in two years.

Roccolo Grassi Opague. Wood hits me in the throat now, but the fruit underneath his full and supple. It will be released onto the market in November of this year.

“It is best to drink our Amarone after ten years,” says Marco Sartori, co-owner and winemaker at the estate.

Venturini, Massimino & Figli Classico: Opaque blue-black center with ruby sheen. The scent of ripe cherries immediately emerges from the glass. The wine has undergone appassimento for 4 months will be released in September 2012.

Venturini, Massimino & Figli Classico “Campomassa” Very full, round and rich. A lovely cushion of warm fruit that compresses into a firm, light line on the finish. The wine has undergone 5 months appassimento and will be released on the market in September 2012.

Speri: Opaque. Fine. Linear. Satisfying. Nice to consider because its production is 100,000 bottles yet it gives cherry flavor and all the characteristics of an Amarone. (Many of the previous Amarones have a production of around 8,000 bottles.)

Tedeschi. Compressed cherry fruit. Sleek. Will be released onto the market in June.

Tenuta San’Antonio “Campo del Gigli” Appealing cherry fruit, compact. A rod of spicy infused cherry that stays firm from first impact through the lingering finish.

“We are moving toward a more elegant style,” says Armando Castagnedi. “We are looking for complexity and freshness.”
The wine will be released in September of 2012.

“Right now we are on the market with the 2005 vintage,” says Armando.

Pasqua Cecilia Beretta “Terre di Cariano” Firm, cherry fruit. Concentrated, a bright burst of acidity, a satisfying fruit-filled finish.

For a note on Pasqua’s Cecilia Beretta Amarone della Valpolicella “Terre di Cariano from the 1998 vintage, see the November 2010 Diary.

I tasted several other interesting Amarones and will write more fully about them in the coming months.

At the tasting we see our friend Tiziana. She has invited us to her new house in Valpolicella for dinner.

“May I bring…..” I say.

“Your little dog Stanley. Of course,” replies Tiziana.

Actually I had been going to say. “May I bring a bottle of Villa Franciacorta?”

Thus Stanley gets the pleasure of running around Tiziana’s very atmospheric (high ceiling, stone walls, tiled-floor) dining room.

She has also made up the top floor of the house into a B&B suite: large living room with fireplace, large bedroom. For more information about renting the suite: rossoravanello@alice.it.

January 28 The Big Amarone Tasting Dinner. Venue: Ristorante ai Teatri
A four course meal, each course made by a different chef.
The Antipaso is a pate made of wild boar, venison and calves liver, with crabapple sauce and thin slices of poached walnuts. This dish is absolute perfection. The chef: Hans Peter Sander of the Ristorante Tirolerhof. For more information about his restaurant cum bed and breakfast go to: www.tirolerhof.or.at.
Throughout the meal sommeliers brought round bottles of Valpolicella and Amarone.

The only Valpolicella that moved me to take a note was the 2008 Monte Garbi from Tenuto Sant’Antonio. Rich, warm, fresh, satisfying. Very silky on the palate.

Many years ago I crashed for a few days in London on the floor of a photographer pal’s studio. At the time he was shooting what would become the packaging photo for Marks and Spencer’s pot pies. A battery of assistants spent days baking pies in three different types of ovens. The food stylist and the photographer would scrutinize each batch of pies as they emerged. On the afternoon of the third day, they finally found, what the photographer called, The Hero Pie.
Well, 2008 Monte Garbi from Tenuta Sant’Antonio was The Hero Valpolicella at the dinner.