Innovative, dynamic and diverse, Cesari is one of northeast Italy’s leading wineries. Founded in 1936 by the entrepreneur Gerardo Cesari, the firm owns vineyards in several exceptional terroirs, producing a wide range of red wines as well as some white specialties. Yet the jewel in the family’s crown has long been its holdings in Valpolicella Classico, situated to the east of Lake Garda.
Many of Verona’s best reds are made from fruit grown in these limestone hills; southeast-facing slopes constitute the appellation’s unofficial ‘Grand Crus’. They reach an apogee in Amarone della Valpolicella – one of Italy’s true classics. Indeed, Cesari’s original vision was to produce a hallmark Amarone wine, able to compete with the world’s best. With a keen eye on tradition, Cesari has spent decades perfecting this iconic expression of local terroir.
The magic starts in the vineyard. Only the finest berries are harvested to make Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, picked relatively early to maintain freshness. The grapes are then left to dry in selected locations, called ‘fruttaio’, to avoid being attacked by mould and rot. After the drying period has ended (usually in December), the berries are crushed and left to macerate on their skins for a period of 20-30 days.
The young wines are then aged for 12 months in large barrels of Slavonian oak; 30% of the blend is matured in small casks, barriques and tonneaux (French oak). A further period of bottle ageing – at least six to eight months – enhances complexity and mouthfeel.
A landmark vintage
Approachable on release, Cesari’s Amarone is a perfect partner to casseroles, flavoursome risottos and intense cheeses like aged Monte Veronese, Parmesan or Gorgonzola. Cesari has produced many venerable expressions of Amarone in the 21st century, however, the 2018 vintage is considered a landmark year. The growing season (providing mild weather in June and July and warm weather in August) delivered healthy berries packed full of flavour and ripe acid.
Indeed, such conditions are very conducive to a slow and even ripening, achieving full physiological ripeness without sacrificing freshness. The results in bottle are memorable; rich, voluptuous and gloriously perfumed. But the wine is also structured, elegant, and capable of extended cellaring. In other words, Amarone for a modern and discerning audience.
2018 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Negrara/Rossignola
Force and finesse merge in Cesari’s Amarone. Succulent, aromatic Corvina steals the show, yet the Rondinella provides welcome structure and acid to the wine, with a concentrated mid-palate of violets, blackberry, sour cherry, and chocolate. As is typical with Cesari, the fruit is underscored by a distinctive minerality and wonderful freshness.
Available in the UK through Annessa Imports – www.annessa.com
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