Campolongo di Torbe, Valle di Megrar’s dark light (2)
Today we conclude our interview with Masi’s Sandro Boscaini which began yesterday and will follow it with a vertical tasting of Amarone Campolomgo di Torbe.
DW: What role to yeasts play in Amarone?
SB: Yeasts and Botrytis cinerea both play an essential role in producing wines that are much different from each other. For example, the resistance of starter yeast cultures with high osmotic pressure and alcoholic concentration is fundamental for the fermentation of must with high sugar levels. Thus it is important to study new strains, not only native ones but also hybrids, for unusual winemaking situations. However, the vineyard remains the most important factor.
DW: In what way?
SB: Like all great wines, Amarone depends a lot on how the grapes were cultivated, whether the vines are trellis or Guyot-trained, and where the grapes grew. It is not surprising that grapes that grow in concentrated bunches are those that dry out the slowest. The chemical makeup of the natural wax on the skins of the grapes varies depending on the training method employed and grapes grown on trellises have a more subtle wax and tend to dry out slower. A slower and more homogenous drying process is a good thing because it allows for a greater extraction of anthocyanins, riper polyphenols and more complex wines. The Masi Technical Group has determined that when the skins are thinner due to the weather of the particular year, small differences between areas of production can also alter the drying process. The group has also identified which areas are more suited to produce grapes for ready-to-drink Valpolicella and those for Amarone. The area of Valpolicella can be divided into five winegrowing zones which differ in regard to the levels of sugar and polyphenols of the grapes and thus produce wines that are very different from each other.
DW: Do you think that methods to raisinate grapes need to be modified due to climate change?
SB: I don’t think so. This because while it may be true that climate change has resulted in higher levels of alcohol, raisinating is extremely interesting not only for the concentration of sugar and alcohol levels but even more so for the enzymatic and micro-biological mutations that take place in the grape while it is drying and which result in original aromas. It is the noble rot that is responsible for creating the illusion of Amarone’s typical sweetness, something unusual in a wine with such a high alcoholic content. The result is a unique wine. An authentic gentle giant.
The following reviews are of four vintages of Campolongo di Torbe, all blends of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%) and Moliara (5%) using grapes that were subject to noble rot. The drying of the grapes was controlled by computer and took place on bamboo matting. The wines aged in 600l Veronese barrels and 30hl Slavonian oak barrels for three years.