Wines of Substance and Longevity

 


If you have any familiarity with Italian wines it’s likely that the name Bertani is well known to you. Located around Verona, the Valpolicella region is most famous for Amarone and other wines produced using variations of the passito method. Bertani stands as the best known and most traditional producer of this style of wines. I spent some time in and around Verona earlier this year and came away with a keen appreciation for and understanding of what they do. Bertani utilizes sustainable practices in their vineyards and throughout their operation

With great wine, everything begins in the vineyard and Bertani fully embraces this philosophy. From selecting the appropriate variety for a block of land to vine training and appropriate pruning methodology every decision is made with the intent of growing the best grapes. Picking choices are incredibly important in any wine and Amarone is no different. Many Amarone producers have shifted to picking grapes that are overripe which leads to wines with higher alcohol, lower acid and lack of proportion. Bertani has remained steadfast in their devotion to crafting wines of balance and finesse, no small feat in a category that naturally has heft, higher alcohol than most dry wines and intrinsic power.

In tasting through the two most recent releases of Bertani Amarone as well as vintages dating back as far as 50 years it’s apparent that their house style has maintained consistent in overall intent. Quality, as always, varies based on vintage. But with the selections of Amarone I sampled from Bertani that variation falls within an amazingly narrow window of excellence. Taken as a piece the Bertani Amarones are wines of proportion, focus, depth, gravitas and longevity. This notion was obvious when sampling their wines, but it become even more abundantly clear when the Bertani wines were presented blind alongside a selection of wines by their peers. In each flight the remarkable grace, precision and balance of the Bertani wines shone through with stunning clarity.

Bertani produces a number of other wines besides Amarone. Valpolicella and Soave are but two examples. These offerings are intended for everyday drinking and largely don’t require aging to reach their full potential. In short the Bertani name on a wine label is an implicit sign that quality is contained therein.

Bertani 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico doc

After spending seven plus years in large Slavonian oak barrels, the 2008 vintage was bottled in April of 2016. This is their brand new vintage and it’s just a baby. However it shows tremendous promise for longevity. Cherry, black Raspberry and plum aromas dominate the nose. Dried dark fruits, tiny bits of balsamic vinegar and a core of spices mark the luxurious palate. Dried plum, kirsch liqueur and hints of dark chocolate are in evidence on the solid finish. It’s tasty now but it’ll start coming hitting a really interesting spot in another decade.


Bertani 2007 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Doc

After spending seven years in large Slavonian oak barrels, the 2007 vintage was bottled in September of 2014.Red and black cherries, cinnamon and clove are all prominent aromatics here. The palate is driven by a solid and somewhat intense core of cherry fruit that is underscored by intermingling mineral notes. Bits of sweet, dark chocolate and hints of earth are evident on persistent finish. Firm acid keeps things refreshing and balanced. An extraordinarily long life ahead is in store for the 2007 Bertani Amarone.


Bertani 1981 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore

The 1981 was bottled in 1991 after a decade in barrel. This 36 year old wine is highlighted by an incredible aromatic profile. An intense bouquet of dried black fruits is buttressed by bits of spice and secondary characteristics.  It feels light in the mouth but it’s deceptively so. There is depth, elegance and complexity to spare here with dried plums, blackberry, hints of vanilla and oodles of spice. Continued dried fruit, tobacco and toasted hazelnut elements are in play on the long finish. This stunning wine has decades of useful life ahead of it.


Bertani 1975 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore doc

The 1975 vintage was bottle in December of 1986 after 11 years in 100HL Slavonian oak. The incredibly aromatic wine shows off hints of peach and red plum. Tobacco, cigar box, and leather take the lead here with dried plum and cherry notes fading into the background. Hints of toasted nuts leas the finish and are joined by a horn-o-plenty of spices that come together to bring it home. Firm acid lends to the mouthwatering nature here. While this offering is the least impressive of the quintet, at least on the day I tasted it, it’s a fascinating and delicious wine nonetheless.


Bertani 1967 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore doc

In October of 1985 after spending 17 years in 100HL Slavonian oak the 1967 was bottled. At 50 years old the ’67 Bertani still shows a vibrant red hue when poured with only tiny hints of brown peeking at the edges. Mushroom, citrus rind and cigar box dominate the aromatics. Bits of wood musk, subtle red fruit and finely ground earth dominate the palate. The finish here is impossibly long, layered and elegant. There isn’t a thing here not to love; it’s perfection in a bottle. To celebrate the 50th anniversary Bertani has released 6,000 bottles of this masterpiece, grab one if you can.

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