Wine Making Style
Wine Making MapAmarone della Valpolicella, know as Amarone is a rich Italian dry wine. In Italian “Amarone” literally means “the Great Bitter” to distinguish it from Recioto which is sweeter in taste.
Grapes are harvested ripe at the end of the growing season. Grapes are left to ripen as long as possible in the vineyard to develop natural depth and character. They are then carefully placed on plastic crates and stacked 10 high in specialized rooms to dry, lasting from 5-10 days up to 2-6 months depending on their ripeness at harvest. Efforts are made to simulate a natural environment with lots of circulating air and varying room temperatures. Controlling humidity prevents mold and is typically kept between 60-70%. At this point the phenols in the grapes are becoming richer and more abundant and the aroma of the fruit is changing. As the water evaporates they become sweeter as the sugars intensify. By further metabolizing the acids within the grapes the result is an overall balanced wine. Dried grapes are pressed and wine is made. This process reduces the overall yield due to the loss of moisture during the appassimento process.
Why The Niagara region growing season can at times be inconsistent and shorter than other regions of the world. The Appassimento approach can help create more consistent wines year after year with bigger bolder flavours. The resulting wines are higher quality but the cases produced are less than what is common with a traditional wine making process.
The skins of the grapes are kept after pressing them during the Appassimento (drying) process. Remember the Appassimento process has allowed the natural flavours and complexity of the fruit to increase and these remaining skins are loaded with those developed flavours. The winemaker will take wine for another varietal then add (re-pass) it over these skins and are typically left for a couple weeks to gather flavour and characteristics from the previously dried fruit skins.
What is Recioto style? It’s unique to Colaneri Estate Winery! The sweet recioto dessert wine has been the style historically associated with the region. There are documents proving that since Roman time a sweet wine, made of dried grapes, was produced in Valpolicella. The Romans loved sweet wines, and used to add honey, spices and make it lighter with water. It was one of the favourite wines of emperor Augustus. The name comes from the local dialect recie meaning ears. This refers to the extending lobes of a grape cluster, that appear as “ears” at the top of the cluster. The exposed grapes on the “ears” usually receive the most direct sunlight and become the ripest grapes on the cluster. Historically these very ripe “ears” were picked separately and used to make very rich, sweet wines. Today the method for making recioto has evolved to include the use of whole grape clusters. Once harvested during the regular harvest season, the grapes are taken to special drying rooms. While recioto wines are typically sweeter than regular table wines they are not as sweet as Icewines. A little technical….If the fermentation (converting sugar into alcohol) is stopped early the resulting wine will contain residual sugar and create a sweeter wine known as Recioto. This is not the same as icewine as the grapes are not pressed in a frozen state. These are sweeter wines but are not considered dessert wines as they are much more versatile when pairing.