When one thinks of Amarone della Valpolicella, a few names come to mind that truly inspire. Bertani is one of them. Founded in 1857 by Giovani Battista and Gaetano Bertani, the family owned estate is producing some of the regions finest, long-lived examples of Amarone della Valpolicellas to date.
The Bertani company owns approximately 220 hectares of land throughout the Veneto, specifically Lake Garda, Valpolicella, Valpantena and Soave. Despite the millions of bottles they produce, their Amarone della Valpolicella remains Bertani’s business card; all fruit is estate grown, it is only made in excellent vintages and employs the utmost care in every step of the wine-making process. Bertani’s first vintage was made in 1958 and they have been creating a “wine that lives forever” ever since.
Amarone della Valpolicella is one of the world’s noble wines and one that overflows with character and personality. Grapes (corvina, rondinella, molinara) are first dried on straw mats in order to concentrate their flavors and sugars and results in a water loss between 40-60%; just to give you an idea, each bottle of Amarone requires 5 pounds of grapes prior to pressing. The resulting wine is a remarkably textured wine layered with intense dried fruit flavors, tons of herbaceous qualities and high alcohol. The trick with Amarone lies in finding the balance between the dry, over ripe fruit flavors, mitigating the high alcohol levels and maintaining a solid acid structure so the wine is not overly cloying and has the structure for long lived development.
This week’s Haute Wines salutes Bertani for sticking to their word – they really do make a “wine that lives forever.” We tasted five vintages of Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella dating back to 1967 and discovered that these wines truly are eternal. Our top picks were 1967, 1975 and 1968 (in that order). Lucky for us, they are all available for sale.
Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto, 1967 – This is everything Amarone should be! If only we didn’t have to wait so long for it to get that way. This wine was aged in cask for 18 years prior to bottling and, 43 years later, it is stellar. Incredible notes of caramel, cigar box, honey and a thick layer of dried figs. The term “Vino di Meditazione” could not be more exemplary than it is here. Constantly evolving in the glass, the 67 is meant to be enjoyed solo and savored sip after sip.
Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto, 1975 – The ’75 was the most elegant of the bunch and the one most compatible with food. The nose was incredibly reminiscent of oloroso sherry with a touch of brandy along with essences of toasted hazelnuts, reduced balsamic, smoked almonds, shitake mushrooms, tobacco and prunes. The nose persisted on the palate, but with an exponential concentration along with a velvety texture and long finish. The ultimate pairing with this wine was none other than a piece a blue cheese. Like a good marriage, they brought out the best in each other.
Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto, 1968 – The ’68 turned out to be the most masculine of the vertical. Super dark and structured, it was big and burly full of prunes and plums, marinated black olives and pine cone-sappiness to it. Oddly enough, it was a touch clumsy alongside the lighter fare we were enjoying, but surely would have done spectacularly with a piece of venison or lamb.
Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore may be difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, tweet me @epicuriouschic and I will be happy to help you source the wine.