Amore di Amarone: Love of Amarone
What in the world is a California wine producer doing importing and selling Italian wines? I know, it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but there is something about these incredible Amarone wines from Italy that we cannot get enough of and just had to share with our friends and Trinitas family!
The quest to make Amarone and sell it as part of the Trinitas portfolio came from the beginning. Our founders, Tim and Steph Busch, had always had a love for Amarone and at the beginning, Tim went in search of someone who could produce a wine here in Napa that would stand up to some of his favorites from Valpolicella Classico, the area in Italy near Verona that is known for producing Amarone. After being called crazy a few times and failed attempts to find someone willing to help take on this new challenge, Tim changed gears and decided to go straight to the source: to Italy!
Nothing is by accident and it seemed meant to be that Tim met Armando Fumanelli and became fast friends. Armando and his family live in the area of Verona called “Valpolicella Classico”. The family is the largest land owners of that region of Italy and has over 120 acres of Amarone vineyards (of the 3 varietals that they use in their Amarone) and have been growing grapes and producing wines since the 15th century!
After meeting and due to his love of the wine, Tim was able to work out a deal with Armando to introduce the Fumanelli's Amarone to the Trinitas porfolio of wines and Trinitas officially released the 2006 Amarone, bringing this incredibly complex and sophisticated wine to share with our friends here in Napa. Fascinated by this wine? Besides the incredible taste and quality of the wine, the winemaking process is very interesting and we enjoy learning more and more about it, while drinking it, of course!
When picking, the Fumanelli family uses a double selection method and picks only the best grapes off the vine and then sorts them on a sorting table and picks out the best of the best. By law, the Amarone grapes have a minimum of 2 months drying time; however, typically the Fumanelli Amarone grapes are dried for 90-120 days which means they typically do not destem and press the grapes until mid-January. This extended drying period leads to losing about 50% of the volume while drying, meaning it takes 5 pounds of grapes to get enough juice to fill one 750 ml bottle.
Amarone is a traditional product in Italy, meaning that there are various rules that apply to the winemaking process. In addition to the grapes needing to be dried for at least two months, the wine must also spend a minimum of 2 years in barrel and a minimum of 5 months in bottle. Since these are the minimum requirements, they are actually quite different from the aging process Fumanelli uses. The Fumanelli’s typically age the wine for 3-5 years in barrel. During this time it is extremely important to not oxidize the wine as you have 700-800 bottles of wine per barrel so temperature control and security of the barrels is very important; however, the Fumanelli cellar was built in 1600 and is in limestone so it stays naturally cool. They do not have any heaters, coolers or humidifiers.
Additionally, the minimum alcohol percentage on an Amarone wine is 15% and 16% for a “Riserva”. This high alcohol requirement ensures that no one is watering back their Amarone.
The Fumanelli family uses only French oak and they use 500L barrels, which are just over double the size of the barrels we use on most of our wines here in Napa (typically our barrels are 225L). The Fumanelli’s use their barrles once and then sell them after one use because one use is typically about 4 years.
The corks used on the Amarone are Portugese corks that are hand selected and the cost of this raw material alone is $2.00 per cork.
While we know many of you would prefer to travel to Italy and try the wine direct from the source, we know that's not always possible. If you are looking for an adventure and want to learn more about this incredible wine and how we found it and taste through a vertical of Italian wines, join us for our Taste of Italy experience at the Trinitas Library. More information available here.