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Bussola Amarone BG 1999
Originally trained as a stone mason, Tommaso took over his uncle’s Valpolicella estate—with its prized old vineyards in the heart of the Classico zone—in the mid-1980s. While vineyard work came naturally to him, he experimented relentlessly, and absorbed information and ideas from every source available. With each passing vintage, his wines came to show more polish, finesse, intensity, and personality.
By the late nineties, his style had matured, and his wines had become world-famous for their incredible intensity of fruit. Like other top Veneto winemakers, he uses new barrels, but any hint of new wood is hidden by cascades of lush, opulent fruit.
The key is not only the age of his vines but the fact that they are nearly all naturally low-yielding ancient clones: Corvinone (40%), Corvina Grossa (25%) and Rondinella (20%). Corvinone, in particular, is quite rare today because of its low yields and finicky growing habits. Yet, Tommaso claims it is the Corvinone that gives his wines their depth. He calls it the "Super Corvina," saying that it produces stronger, denser, richer, more perfumed wines. Small percentages of old vine Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dindarella and Pindara round out the cépage, along with new experiments like Teroldego and Merlot.
A large and diverse wine region in northeastern Italy, the Veneto is home to a vast array of different styles of wine.
The sub-region of Valpolicella (meaning “valley of cellars” in Italian) is a series of north to south valleys and is the source of Veneto’s best red wine with the same name. Valpolicella—the wine—is juicy, spicy, tart and packed full of red cherry flavors. Corvina makes up the backbone of the blend with Rondinella, Molinara, Croatina and others playing supporting roles. Recioto and Amarone follow the same blending patterns but are made from grapes left to dry for a few months before pressing, resulting in wines that are intense, full-bodied, heady and often, quite cerebral.
Soave, based on the indigenous Garganega grape, is the famous white here—made ultra popular in the 1970s at a time when quantity was more important than quality. Today one can find great values on whites from Soave, making it a perfect choice as an everyday sipper! But the more recent local, increased focus on low yields and high quality winemaking in the original Soave zone, now called Soave Classico, gives the real gems of the area. A fine Soave Classico will exhibit a round palate full of flavors such as ripe pear, apricot, or yellow peach, have smoky and exotic aromas and a sapid, fresh, mineral-driven finish.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.