Amaorne & Recioto
In Valpolicella, we have the Amarone and the Recioto, made by using grapes that have been harvested ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, those bunches which permit the air flowing, which permits grapes growing better with perfect balance of sunshine, air, rain and humidity. Both of these full-bodied Italian red wines can be rich in flavour and have the Corvina grape at their heart, but Amarone is dry, or off-dry in taste, while Recioto della Valpolicella is sweet. Legend has it that Amarone was born after a Recioto fermentation was left too long.
Before fermentation, the two styles have a lot in common.
Grapes are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats, for several months… at least ‘till December following harvest, but it often takes longer and fermentation may not begin until January or February.
Valpolicella’s Consorzio says 50 to 60 days of drying can be enough for Recioto, but sometimes more than 100 days are needed. This concentrates the remaining sugars and flavours, Recioto wines retain sugar content at the end of fermentation, which gives them their signature sweetness – starting at around 50g/l residual sugar and upwards.
Amarone wines will be fermented to a drier style. Some will reach double figures on the residual sugar, but many will be down around 5g/l to 7g/l.
The drying process begins in November in the year of the vintage. Amarone must be aged for at least two years starting in the year after harvest. Riserva wines have to be aged for a minimum four years.
As you’d expect, many estates age their wines for longer.
The Amarone style has existed in the region since the past, it was produced in warm vintages when batches of wines destined for sweet recioto were unintentionally allowed to ferment completely dry. The modern concept of Amarone has its roots in the early 1950s when producers “rediscovered” the style and began deliberately using yeast strains that could ferment the high levels of sugars in the wine completely into alcohol.
Amarone is unique in the wine world. Typically very alcoholic, full-bodied and ripe- tasting wines are produced in very warm climate regions, where the grapes are able to build up large amounts of sugar while ripening on the vine. The Valpolicella region is characterized as a “cool climate region” where acid levels are usually maintained and sugar build occurs more slowly in the vine. Grapes destined for Amarone are the last grapes in Valpolicella to be harvested, getting as ripe as they can before mold and rot set in.
Now that you have some basics info about this wine area and it’s wines we’ll take you to visit one of the local winery of the area,
which is “Roberto Mazzi”, located on the hills of Negrar, one of the five municipalities of the Classic Zone for the production of Valpolicella and Amarone wines.
In 1958 Roberto Mazzi, after finishing his agricultural studies, began the bottling process of the family wines produced since the early 1900s.
Originally the winery was called Sanperetto, from the name of the hamlet where the company is located. The first step was the distinction of wines based on the hills of origin: Calcarole, Castel, Poiega and Villa, all characterized by an excellent position.
Now the management of the family winery, over seven hectares, continues with their sons Stefano and Antonio who produce the typical wines of the area with great passion.
The wines of the Roberto Mazzi winery have always distinguished themselves according to the hills of production, to better identify the differences between terroirs, which would seem visually imperceptible, but which during the tasting are discovered as wonderfully marked and distinguishable, releasing all the many differences of this territory.
From a family of millers, as evidenced by the 1500 water mill in the cellar which can still be visited today, the Mazzi family has been able to enhance the products of their labor, thanks to the unique and inimitable work philosophy of Valpolicella.
A real reason of pride and an example of Italian family business. A tradition carried on today by Roberto’s sons,
Stefano and Antonio,
who wisely draw inspiration from their father in giving voice to a territory and a more unique than rare story.
I really suggest you to visit this little winery, where you can find, with its family management and history, quality and traditions molten in a unique mix! Salute!