The 2009 Amarone: To be Approached with Caution

Grapes in Tommasi's Drying Hall

Grapes in Tommasi’s Drying Hall

2009 was, once again, a modern high temperature vintage of the sort that those who planted their vineyards 20 or even 10 years ago couldn’t have foreseen. Put simply, it is getting warmer; before discussing 2009 the Consorzio’s agronomist told us that during the interval from 1965 to 1986 the Winkler index, which gives in indication of climate, had an average value of 1370, whereas its average value over the interval from 1987 to 2009 was 1620 (both are cool values in the Winkler scale, but the latter does indicate warming has taken place). He also said that temperatures greater than 30 C, which were once rare in the Valpolicella, have become common and extend up the valleys.

The higher temperatures result in much riper grapes with higher sugar contents and lower acidities, which in turn result in bigger, softer wines, and here some of the agronomic practices adopted in the late 80s and early 90s come into play. Since the winemakers of the time were much more worried about making certain their grapes ripened than about overripeness, many of those who replanted abandoned the hilltops and ridge crests where ripening was iify in other than perfect vintages, and also abandoned the traditional Pergola Veronese, which is trained high, in favor of lower training systems such as the Guyot, which enhances grape ripening because the grapes are close enough to the ground to absorb the heat the ground reflects.

To address the problem of overripeness they now face winemakers are taking a number of steps. First of all, replanting in those high areas they had abandoned, and many are also raising the vines, training them to the Pergola Veronese, which is high enough from the ground to protect the grapes from reflected heat. Because of the way the leaf canopy is organized in the Pergola Veronese, this pruning system also offers some protection from hail, which has become more common in recent years as higher temperatures have increased the severity of the summer thunderstorms.

The final problem winemakers find themselves having to address is water stress; because of the  higher temperatures the water absorbed during the winter months no longer sufficient, and while a day or two of stress may have little effect, the 2-3 weeks of stress many vineyards suffer is sufficient to interfere with grape ripening. Drip irrigation is therefore becoming important, as is securing a dependable supply of water.

In short, the Valpolicella is in a state of flux, with tremendous climate-dictated changes in the nature of its wines, and it will be very interesting to see how the region’s winemakers respond to the challenge.

And this brings us to the 2009 vintage. To begin with the winter, it was quite wet, and this allowed the accumulation of water in the clayier soils of the area, guaranteeing  a supply of moisture to the vineyards that had them.

Spring came early and was quite warm, resulting in a two-week anticipation in blossoming – it took place about May 22 – with respect to the 2008 vintage, and this anticipation in the vegitative phases carried though to the harvest; the veraison took place on about August 10, and thanks to continued high temperatures – the Huglin Index (which is related to the thermal requirements of varietals and their potential sugar content) for 2009 was second only to that of 2003 – the grapes were ripe by the first week in September, Quite ripe, to the point that excess sugar concentration and a lack of acidity became serious possibilities, and the Consorzio therefore decided to allow the harvest to begin early.

With Amarone (and Recioto), the harvest is just the mid-point of the vintage; the harvested grapes are laid on mats to dry, and the winemakers fervently hope for cool dry weather that will make natural drying possible. Unfortunately, in 2009 the weather didn’t cooperate, and the wineries were therefore forced to turn on their dehumidifiers. Botrytis can play an important role in Amarone, but in the 2009 vintage the grape skins were tough enough that its influence was quite limited. By the time of pressing, in December, the grapes for Amarone were reduced by about 36%, and those for Recioto by 41%.

Pumping Over Amarone

Pumping Over Amarone

Pressing was followed by cold maceration and fermentation, which took on average about a month; we were told the average alcohol content of the newly fermented wines was 15.6%, and they did spontaneously undergo the malolactic fermentation, something that doesn’t happen easily in all vintages.

And this brings us to the tasting, which was on the one hand interesting, and on the other problematic. Interesting because it did give a quick overview of the 2009 vintage, and provides indications of what to expect from the Valpolicella’s top wine. Problematic because the samples presented, 58, are just a fraction of the total number of Amaroni produced, and of these 58 more than half were tank samples, which are unfinished. The other problem is exactly who is presenting wines. Many of the more renowned wineries chose not to participate, some because they are not happy presenting tank samples, and others because of discord within the Consorzio; as a result the tasting was weighted towards the Cantine Sociali (the cooperatives) and large bottlers, with a smattering of new wineries eager to take advantage of an opportunity to present themselves.

The weighting probably did influence my impression of the vintage; many of the large bottlers and cooperatives make their Amarone in lower areas that felt the effects of the heat more, and I found a great many wines that were quite lacking in acidity, with tannins that were strident and rather green, and with either very ripe fruit or lacking fruit, conditions that all suggest the vines suffered suffered drought stress.

Amarone from higher vineyards that suffered the heat less could provide a very different picture of the 2009 vintage, and I do hope to return to Verona to gather samples from wineries that didn’t participate at the Anteprima this summer, but for now I must say that the 2009 vintage is one to be approached with caution, and if you are thinking about buying a number of bottles of a given wine, do taste it first. In terms of aging potential, though Daniele Accordini, the Vice president and Enologist of the Consorzio hypothesized 20 years, I have my doubts, because a great many of the wines revolve more around tannic structure than acidity, and in my experience it’s acidity that provides the backbone for long life. Another reason for keeping a cautious approach to the wines, and tasting before buying.

Anteprima Amarone 2009

I began by tasting the wines that were already bottled, and continued with a sampling of tank samples, which are, as I noted above, unfinished wines; on the one hand they provide a picture of just one tank (or cask, or barrel), which may or may not match the final blend that is bottled, and on the other they have not begun to undergo the reactions that take place in the bottle, and provide many of the nuances of the bouquet. Because of their unfinished condition I didn’t score the tank samples, and also tasted some, but not all of them.

Accordini Stefano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep cherry  ruby with cherry rim. The nose is quite fruity, with candied cherries and licorice root with some balsamic accents as well and a fair amount of alcohol, also some peppery spice. On the palate it’s fairly sweet, with moderate berry fruit supported by tannins that have a powerful dusky bitter streak and are still fairly rough, flow into a rather long bitter finish. Not much acidity and tannins carry with bitterness that is in part oak. The nose is more interesting at present, and we’ll see how the palate evolves. Would have liked more acidity.
2 stars

Soraighe by Bennati Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  almost poured ink. The bouquet is rather medicinal, with cooked fruit – cherries and forest berry fruit – supported by some bitter cocoa and some slightly medicinal metallic accidents. The heat of the summer is evident in the glass. On the palate it’s ample and fairly sweet, with moderately intense tarter than expected sour berry fruit supported by tannins that have a slight burr, and more acidity than I had expected; it’s disjointed and a bit of a surprise but may do interesting things with time because there is enough acidity to perk it up. It made me think, and taste it twice, and this is often a good sign, though it’s too young to score. Hot weather, but nice acidity and given the vintage this is a definite plus.

Cav. G. B. Bertani Villa Arvedi Amarone della Valpolicella Valpentana DOC 2009

Moderately deep ruby with pale ruby rim. Less charged than many. The bouquet is moderately intense and rather delicate, with sour cherry  fruit supported by floral notes, a mix that includes roses, and by delicate greenish herbal notes. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it’s full but not huge, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a warm sandalwood burr, and flow into a clean long sour sandalwood laced finish. Very young, in a traditional key, and much less overripe than some; it’s not a huge wine but displays grace that with time will become finesse, and if you like the style you’ll enjoy it. Worth seeking out.
2 stars

Cà La Bionda Vigneti di Ravazzol Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Pale cherry  ruby with cherry  rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with sandalwood and some spice mingled with moderate berry fruit; the other aromatics are more intense Not much acidity. On the palate it’s ample and sweet – almost an ammandorlato – with moderate berry fruit supported by tannins that have a dusky bitter underpinning and some sandalwood with quite a bit of peppery spice, and flow into a bitter tannic finish. It’s somewhat lacking in acidity, and as a result the tannins carry it.
1 star

Cà Rugate Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, with delicately spiced sandalwood laced red berry fruit supported by incense and sweet floral accents that bring a Moscato di Scanzo to mind. Interesting and clearly in mid stride. On the palate it’s ample and fairly sweet, with cherry and forest berry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a warm sandalwood burr, and flow into a fairly bright peppery finish. It’s in mid stride, in a fairly sweet key, and still coming together in a rather exotic way; the floral notes that are present on the nose also reemerge in the finish and carry at length. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but if you are more traditionally minded you may like it less.
2 stars

Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  with cherry rim. The bouquet is a bit smoky, with berry fruit supported by sweet balsamic accents and some spice, not much acidity. On the palate it’s ample and sweet, with moderate berry fruit that has some prune accents supported by peppery spice and tannins that have a peppery balsamic burr, and flow into a fairly long bitter finish with a cocoa underpinning. Again, not much acidity, and the tannins carry, while the fruit was a little riper than I might have liked, and softer too. Big and saved from complete softness by the peppery notes in the tannins.
1 star

Cantina Valpolicella Negrar Domini Veneti Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with black ref and cherry  rim. The bouquet is intense, with sandalwood and balsamic accents mingled with a fair amount of cedar, but not much in the way of fruit. The palate reflects the nose; there isn’t much fruit – vegetal notes, rather – and sweetness and tannins that have a peppery burr and provide both body and substance, while there isn’t that much in the way of acidity either. I’d have wanted greater fruit.
1 star

Cavalchina Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry with black ref and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with berry fruit and a fair amount of sandalwood with some underlying spice; at present the combination brings cola to mind, but is still evolving. On the palate it’s fairly sweet, with moderate berry fruit that is supported by tannins that have a dusky burr, and by warm sour berry fruit acidity that wasn’t apparent in the nose, and carries into a fairly long sour berry fruit finish with lasting warmth and some greenish vegetal accents. It’s very much in mid stride, but if the nose follows the palate, may do interesting things. At present it’s a babe in the woods, too young to score.

Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby. The nose is muted, and still bottle shocked; the filtering is very apparent and it needs time to recover. On the palate it’s much more itself, with fairly soft ripe cherry plu fruit supported by moderate rather bitter acidity and by tannins that have a cedar and sandalwood burr, and flow into a fairly long peppery finish. It’s big and soft, and needs at least a year to recover its nose. Like many of the 2009 wines, it did suffer the vintage.
78-80

Gnirega di Clementi Pietro Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with jammy forest berry fruit supported by a fair amount of underlying sweetness and some sandalwood and vegetal notes. On the palate it’s ample and sweet with moderate berry fruit supported by tannins that have a peppery burr and by moderate acidity that flows into a fairly peppery finish that flows into vegetal notes. I’d have liked a little more richness to the fruit, though it may come with time.

Corte Archi Gli Archi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with cherry  rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some spice and slight hints of animal tang that open into vegetal accents, almost artichoke. On the palate it’s ample and soft, with tannins carrying the show and providing the structure, while there isn’t much in the way of fruit, nor acidity. Rather, peppery spice that carries into the finish.
1 star

Corte Sant’Alda Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with black ref and cherry rim. The bouquet is deft, with jammy cherry and raspberry fruit supported by sweetness and fairly intense sandalwood, and by moderate berry fruit acidity; it’s rather voluptuous. On the palate it’s not as rich as the nose suggests; there’s less fruit than I expected, and the wine therefore revolves more around the tannic structure and is steered more by tannic bitterness than by fruit derived acidity.
1 star

Distilleria Bottega Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep cherry  ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is spicy, with considerable vegetal laced sandalwood and some cedar. Not much in the way of fruit, however. On the palate it’s ample and sweet, with moderate fruit supported by tannins that have quite a bit of cedar to them, and some peppery spice, which flows into a fairly long bitter cedar laced finish.
1 star

Gamba Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is moderately intense, with spice and some sandalwood mingled with slight vegetal accents, and some balsamic notes. Not much in the way of fruit however. The palate reflects the nose to a degree, though there is more acidity than I expected; it’s moderately fruity with cherry plum fruit that is supported by greenish vegetal accents laced with sandalwood, and by mineral acidity, while the tannins are fairly rich and cedar laced, and flow into a fairly long cedar laced finish with vegetal underpinning. It’s in mid stride, and while the fruit will never shift back towards red berry fruit, it is more interesting on the palate than the nose.
2 stars

La Collina dei Ciliegi Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep cherry  ruby with black reflections and cherry  rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some spice and greenish accents. Not much in the way of fruit. The palate is moderately itnese and fairly full, with dusky cherry  plum fruit supported by tannins that have a warm sandalwood cedar burr, and some mineral acidity that flows into a rather tannic finish with mineral acidic underpinning. I’d have liked more fruit, because the tannins end up carrying the wine.

Massimago Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry ruby. The bouquet is fairly rich, with sandalwood and spice mingled with a fair amount of cedar,a nd some but not that much berry fruit. On the palate it’s fairly sweet, more an ammandoralto than an Amarone, with cherry  plum fruit supported by some plum acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth with some cedary vegetal accents,a nd slight hints of cocoa powder that flow into a rather bitter cocoa laced finish. A little more fruit would have been nice; the framework is there but it’s not as fleshed out as I might have liked, and there is a bit too much ripeness to the fruit.
1 star

Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine Villa Borghetti Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, with quite a bit of greenish cedar mingled with vegetal accents and spice. Not much in the way of fruit. On the palate it’s brighter than one might have expected, with a degree of sweetness on the one hand, and greenish peppery spice on the other; there isn’t that much fruit however. Because of the peppery spice and the greenish acidity, which is present, it will drink nicely with stews or roasts, though I wouldn’t hold it for too long.
2 stars

Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine Terre di Cariano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry  rim. The bouquet is cedar laced with some warmth and some greenish accents, and slight berry fruit. Still coming together, and this is to be expected in a barrel sample. On the palate it’s smooth and fairly sweet, with cherry plum fruit supported by brighter than expected sour cherry acidity and a fair amount of alcoholic warmth, whle the tannins are smooth and cedar laced, flowing into a clean rather bitter finish. Of the barrel samples, I found it to be one of the more convincing; there is sufficient acidity to provide life and keep it going, I think.

Piccoli Daniela Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is delicate, with greenish vegetal accents mingled with some sandalwood and spice. On the palate it’s fairly rich, with bright cherry fruit supported by spicy sandalwood laced tannins and fairly bright mineral acidity that flows into a clean rather tart finish with lasting warmth and some alcoholic sweetness. The tannins are a bit strident, and this is the vintage, but there is a pleasant brightness to it, and it will age more than some thanks to its greater acidity.
2 stars

F.lli Recchia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry ruby, close to poured ink. The bouquet is intense and a bit rustic, with barnyard tang – wet stable straw – and spicy greenish accents mingled with some spice and a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it’s ample and sweet, with moderately intense cherry fruit supported by greenish berry fruit acidity and tannins that have a powerful greenish peppery burr, and flow into a fairly long greenish finish. It is brighter than many, thanks to its acidity and the pepperyness of the tannins, and there is some fruit, and as such it’s pleasant in a rather rustic key, and if you like the style you will enjoy it. But it’s particular, and you have to like the style.
2 stars

Roccolo Grassi Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some medicinal accents and slight spice; it gives an impression of being under wraps to a degree. The palate reflects the nose, with precious little fruit and tannins that have a strident greenish burr.
1 star

Salvaterra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is moderately intense with greenish accents and spice mingled with some sandalwood and slight sour milky accents. On the palate it’s moderately intense, with greenish vegetal notes more than fruit, supported by tannins that are fairly smooth, with moderate greenish cedar and some warmth, and mineral acidity that also has a bitter component. Not as much fruit as I might have liked.
1 star

San Felice Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Almost poured ink, with cherry rim. The bouquet is jammy to cooked, with some rust thrown in. Very much heat struck. On the palate it’s quite medicinal, not quite bringing to mind a eucalyptus lozenge, but in that direction, with tannins that are cedar laced with a distinct cedary balsamic burr that flows into a fairly bitter finish.
1 star

Terre di Leone Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Deep black cherry  ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is delicate, with floral accents mingled with Mediterranean herbs and delicate red berry fruit. Intriguing, and there’s quite a bit to think about, though it speaks quietly and requires concentration. On the palate it’s pleasant, with fairly intense red berry fruit supported by sandalwood spice and tannins that have a dusky shadowy burr and flow into a clean greenish finish that is supported by some mineral acidity, which is also present in the body of the wine. Pleasant and a winemaker I wasn’t familiar with; a nice discovery and it stands out with respect to most of the other wines I tasted.
2 stars

Tinazzi La Bastia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Close to poured ink. The bouquet is smoky, tending almost towards burnt rubber, with some spice as well. Heat struck and I’m not sure if it will recover with time. On the palate it’s moderately intense and quite green, with an initial rush of red berry fruit that then surrenders to powerful green vegetal accents supported by a fair amount of alcohol and some sour mineral acidity that flows into a fairly long cedar laced greenish finish. The heat interrupted the ripening of the grapes, leaving strident greenness in its place.

Zecchini Vigneto Calandra Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena DOC 2009

Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is greenish with some jammy berry fruit accents and some sandalwood spice, though what really stands out are the vegetal notes. On the palate it’s ample, with moderate sour cherry fruit supported by greenish acidity and by tannins that have a cedary burr, and are underlain by more greenish acidity and sandalwood spice, which flow into a long green finish. Quite vegetal, but with sufficient acidity to be perkier than many, and though the heat did interfere with the ripening to a degree it is a wine that will work well with rich hearty meats that beg something fairly aggressive to clear the palate between bites.
2 stars

Zonin Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Deep pyrope with black cherry  rim. The bouquet is unusual, with considerable floral notes, cut flowers and hyacinths, and mingled with some sandalwood and plum cherry fruit. Not too much acidity, but it is harmonious. On the palate ample, with fairly rich plum cherry fruit supported by a fair degree of sweetness – its more of an ammandorlato than an Amarone – and by tannins that have a ceadry sandalwood burr, and flow into a fairly long greenish bitter finish. It’s overripe, but not strident, and in the context of the vintage works well; if you like the style you will enjoy it. But you have to like bigger softer wines.
2 stars

Guerrieri Rizzardi Villa Rizzardi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep black cherry  ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some berry fruit and some spice; still coming together. On the palate it’s fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a fairly strong peppery cedary burr, and by moderate berry fruit acidity that flows into a fairly long peppery tannic finish. It does feel the heat, but not so badly as some, and while it is carried more by tannic bitterness than acidity it does show some promise.

Guerrieri Rizzardi Calcarole Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep black cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is shut tight, and this can happen in a barrel sample. On the palate it’s fairly rich, with sour cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a warm cedary burr, and by moderate mineral acidity, while there are also underlying vegetal accents that contribute and lead into a fairly long greenish cedary finish. More acidity would have been nice, but it is harmonious in a rather bitter tannic key, and will clean up nicely, I think. Though it does need a couple of years.

Monte del Fra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry  rim. The bouquet is delicate, with graphite shavings mingled with floral notes and some sandalwood, and also some greenish accents,and also some underlying berry fruit. On the palate it’s fairly rich, with sour cherry fruit supported by tannins that have considerable cedary bitterness and flow into a clean cedary finish with lasting warmth. There’s more tannic bitterness than acidity, but it holds together nicely, and will I think come out well, within a year or two.

Aldegheri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep black cherry  ruby with black reflections and cherry  rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with spice and some berry fruit mingled with sandalwood and slight cedar. On the palate it’s fairly sweet, with moderately intense plum cherry  fruit supported by greenish cedary tannins and by moderate  mineral acidity; it’s big and fairly soft, and I’d have liked more acidity and less ripeness, though with this vintage that’s a tall order. It is harmonious and holds together well, and if you like the style, which is full and rather soft – there is enough pepper in the tannins to keep it from settling – you will like it.

Corte Rugolin Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Poured ink with cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with dusky jammy cherry plum fruit supported by sandalwood and some greenish accents, with light plaster dust as well. On the palate it’s ample, with plum fruit supported by spice and by peppery tannins that are somewhat green and still a bit out of whack, and flow into a peppery rather bitter finish. It is a child of the vintage, with fruit that was penalized by the heat, and we’ll have to see how it develops.

Monte Zovo Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Black cherry  ruby with black reflections and some orange in the rim. The bouquet is still coming together, with cedar and warmth to one side and greenish vegetal notes to the other, and alcohol in the center – they’re looking at each other but not interacting mush yet. On the palate it’s fairly green, though there is some sour berry fruit as well, supported by tannins that have a decidedly greenish peppery burr, and flow into a fairly long greenish finish with lasting alcoholic warmth. A bit angry, and vegetal, which are in keeping with the vintage, but there is also more fruit than many of the others display, and a degree of acidity too.

Novaia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Fairly deep cherry  ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is smoky, with some cheese rind as well, and some spice – very much a disjointed barrel sample. On the palate it’s ample and fairly sweet, with moderate cherry fruit supported by some spice and by tannins that are fairly smooth and flow into a warm tannic finish.

Santa Sofia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Deep black cherry  with black reflections and some cherry  in the rim. The bouquet is cedar laced, with some greenish accents, but not much in the way of fruit at present. On the palate it’s fairly intense, but without much fruit; the structure and body derive mostly from cedary tannins and greenish vegetal notes that flow into a fairly long decidedly greenish finish.

Sartori Corte Brà Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Barrel sample
Poured pyrope ink with cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, of the nobody home variety, though aggressive swishing does bring up some cedar. On the palate it’s soft and fairly sweet, with some cherry plum fruit that’s supported by tannins that have a bitter cedary burr, and by slight mineral acidity and alcoholic warmth that both lead into a fairly mineral tannic finish with some greenish accents.

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About Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.
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