In 1992 the Cantina Valpolicella Negrar–one of five cooperatives in Valpolicella–embarked on a unique project to produce Amarones that would express the distinct terroir of each of the Classico’s five distinct areas (see map)—Sant’Ambrogio, Fumane, San Pietro in Cariano, Marano, and Negrar. The project bore fruition in 2005 with the first release of the Espressioni line of single vineyard Amarones. Each wine was produced under the supervision of winemaker Danielle Accordini in exactly the same way from the same blend
of grapes, the same drying (appassimento) period of 120 days, the same maceration and fermentation methods and with 60 months aging in 50 hl Slavonian oak botti, from the best Cantina vineyard in each area. Viticultural practices were also similar between the vineyard sites with pergola Veronese training, no irrigation (excepting the Monte), and grass interplanted between the rows.
During our recent visit to Verona to attend the Anteprima Amarone 2010, we paid a visit to Cantina Valpolicella Negrar and tasted these magnificent Amarones and other wines from their portfolio. See our discussion of the five distinct terroirs and tasting notes on the Espressioni wines below.
Valpolicella Terroirs and the Wines.
Espressioni Castelrotto comes from a 150 m high, south-facing vineyard in San Pietro in Cariano with alluvial clay and sandy soils overlaying limestone. It is softly textured, quite evolved and ready to drink with fresh dark red fruit and savory notes. (16.5° alc.)
The Espressioni Villa is made from a 280 m high, southeast facing vineyard in the Negrar Valley with silty clay topsoil and limestone subsoil. It has the highest rainfall and the least sun exposure of the five vineyard sites. The Villa exhibits ripe and meaty aromas and is full in the mouth with beg red berry fruit, lots of tannin and alcohol. (17° alc).
Espressioni San Rocco comes from a very high (510 m) east-facing vineyard in the Marano Valley with mineral and basaltic soil. Rocco is a young, complex wine with lots of glycerin. It exhibits bright acidity and notes of forest floor, spices and smoke. (16° alc)
Espressioni Mazzurega comes from a 500 m high vineyard with southeast exposure and calcareous sandstone soils in the Fumane Valley. It is big and smoky with layers of flavors. Earthy in character, it is very ripe, full in the mouth and displays soft round tannins. (17° alc)
Espressioni Monte is from a 440 m high, south and southwest facing vineyard in Sant’Ambrogio near Lake Garda. Its soils show marly limestone and degraded rosso Verona marble, and the vineyard is exposed to the winds that come off Lake Garda with lots of sun. The Espressioni Monte is the least evolved wine in the series. It is dense and full-bodied with tons of black fruit, chocolate, raisins, and tar with firm tannins and a long finish. (16.5° alc)
The Espressioni wines are of consistently high quality, revealing both the variety of Valpolicella terroirs and their influence on Amarone wines. Add in the kinds of decisions growers and winemakers make about trellising, canopy management, harvesting, drying, fermenting and barrel aging, and one can begin to appreciate the variety of Amarones produced in Valpolicella. We’ll explore the many expressions of Amarone in more detail in our forthcoming Report #41 The Amarone Wines of Valpolicella.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler