(the wine spies)
Mission Codename: Celebrate America, Toast Columbus
Operative: Agent White
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Agricola Nicolis Angelo e Figli
Wine Subject: Amarone della Valpolicella Classico D.O.C.
Winemaker: Giuseppe Nicolis
Amarone della Valpolicella is one of the most unique wines in all of Italy. Made in Italy’s northeast Veneto region and specifically in the Valpolicella DOC (near Verona), Amarone is made with grapes that are dried for several months on straw mats in the lofts above the farm houses or barns at the winery before being pressed and fermented. The dried fruit has a higher residual sugar which is mostly fermented away. This results in a dry wine of tremendous depth and intensity; in addition to a generally higher alcohol content.
Amarone is usually a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. On occasion, other varietals are blended into the mix. Amarone is aged for two years in oak barriques before being aged further in the bottle. These wines have a long life, with most Amarone showing its best character many years after their release. Flavors and aromas of complex dried fruit, chocolate and spice linger and meld with its distinct texture.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet with ruby red reflections through its clear ruby core. Along the edges, the color shines ruby red and when swirled, thin color laden legs descend at varying speeds to the wine below.
Smell – Rich and well developed with complex aromas of sweet red and black cherry, chocolate covered raisins, sweet exotic spice, a touch of black licorice, vanilla and fresh cut sandalwood.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this full-bodied wine is rich with highly textured and etched tannins; crisp acidity; and dark mineral and spice a that softens as this wine opens and breathes (recommended highly for wines of this type).
Taste – Well integrated but muscular flavors of red and black cherry blend with complex sweet exotic spice; subtle leather and meaty notes; hints of pencil shavings and graphite; cedar/tobacco cigar box.
Finish – The red and black cherry fruit fades softly as this wines texture lingers on the palate for several minutes begging for another sip.
Conclusion – The Nicolis Amarone della Valpolicella Classico D.O.C. is a delicious wine of tremendous elegance and finesse. Complex on the nose, extremely well structured that is both masculine and balanced, and bold and rich flavors that linger long into the finish. An exceptional example of one of Italy’s premier wines. Certainly young now, this wine will continue to develop and improve for many years to come. Pair this amazing wine with Osso Buco, grilled veal lamb.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING INTERVIEW
SUBJECT: Giuseppe Nicolis
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Giuseppe. We are thrilled to be showing your Amarone Classico 2004 today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
GIUSEPPE: My pleasure – this Amarome is a great wine to be featured on your site
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
GIUSEPPE: My family has always being producing wine and since 1951 we started it as a business. So actually I grew up in the vines and in the wine cellar together with my brothers, and in our region it is quite common to grow up with a great love to land, to our area and for the typical and indigenous tastes, passed on from fathers to sons.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
GIUSEPPE: Not in particular, we always try to give back in the wine the maximum that our indigenous grape varieties can give as expression of the Terroir. Anyway all experiences I had with different winemakers, you learn something of, and they are all important.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
GIUSEPPE: Basically myself: first of all I have to be satisfied with the quality, otherwise, if the harvest was not so good, I prefer to skip the vintage and not come out with a product I am not satisfied of (we skipped the 1999 and the 2002 harvest). Of course if other people would not like our wines, me and my family would have a hard time, so of course you always produce as well hoping that the consumers will appreciate it. Don’t forget, I am myself a consumer!
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
GIUSEPPE: First of all, you don’t have to forget that Amarone is one of the few red-wines in the world where there is a real reason for its price, which is not the marketing. Too often people don’t know or forget, that we are in front of a wine produced with dried grapes and the juice coming out from there is really a lot less than if you produce with fresh grapes.
2004 was a good Vintage, but for Amarone not only the harvest is important, but as well the autumn- and winter time, when the grapes are put for natural drying for at least 3 month, it is important that the climate is dry and even best if we have a good temperature excursion between day and night. All conditions that in 2004 where favourable. So the Amarone Classico Nicolis2004, was produced with very good and healthy natural withered grapes, which gave to the wine an extraordinary structure and poliphenols.
I especially like the balance between the powerful structure and at the same time the elegance in this Amarone, which keeps its great fruit and freshness, perfectly in accordance with the body.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
GIUSEPPE: No doubts, if I am alone, I love staying hours and hours smelling the different evolution of flavours coming out of the glass. You can leave it very long and you’ll always get different impressions as the time goes by. But even nicer is if you share it with friends and then I would serve some strong meat dishes, or game. Or after dinner as dessert with some long seasoned cheese, to close the day in perfect harmony.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the VALPOLICELLA so special?
GIUSEPPE: Valpolicella has its indigenous grape varieties, which have no equals. Only here Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Coratina ….. grow in this way and give this results to the wine. If you would plant them just 15 km away from this area, you’ll get out something completely different. That is the great reason why I prefer the use of big oak barrels as i did on the Amarone Classico Nicolis 2004, 30 month ageing only in big oak barrels (7-15-20 hl ), which keep the fruit and the typically of those wines. I find no reason in overloading those wines with the use of small “barrique”, which would give a stronger oaky touch and probably cover the typical and unique taste of Valpolicella. As you may know, we are not completely against Barrique, as we use it partially in our other Amarone : AMBROSAN, which has more structure and alcohol and can support the little bit more oak and spicy.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
GIUSEPPE: Right now I am “taking care of my babies” I am checking that the wines that are actually in the oak barrels are “growing” ageing as I expect them to, and then slowly we all will get ready for harvest.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
GIUSEPPE: You should not get scared from some “big words” used in speaking of wine, if you drink wine from serious quality producers, which you can as well find with a very good price-quality ratio, you’ll see that you can enjoy them even for everyday’s lunch. Take our simple Valpolicella for example, as well in summer time when it is hot, you’ll enjoy it served a bit chilled, to spaghetti or pizza. Just use always your own senses, your taste is unique and subjective, but only you can decide if you like this or that wine. The only way you can get experience in knowing wines, is to taste them.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
GIUSEPPE: I think I have already said everything answering the previous question. All there is to do now is enjoy this great wine!
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Agricola Nicolis Angelo e Figli can be seen in this satellite photo.