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An award-winning Amarone della Valpolicella wine from a boutique winery in Veneto, 93/100 points by James Suckling
The Rubinelli family has been producing Amarone wines for a hundred years, and this wine is an excellent example that won the “Two Glasses” award for several years in a row. The best Amarone wines are famous for their intensely concentrated flavours of red berries and spices, complemented by high alcohol and medium to high tannins. They are produced using the passito method – grapes are picked early, when they still have high levels of natural acidity, and then dried indoors to concentrate sugars and flavours.
Following the family tradition, this Amarone wine is made from several grape varieties very specific to Veneto: 40% Corvina, 40% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 5% Oseleta. The grapes are harvested by hand in September, and are left in fruttaio (drying lofts) to dry for four months. In January, the dried grapes are softly crushed and fermented for three weeks. After this, the wine is pumped into large 3000-litre French oak barrels to mature for a long period of 36 months. The Rubinelli use large barrels instead of barriques because their style of winemaking is to preserve the natural aroma of the grape, and not overpower it with oak. Before this Amarone wine is released to the market, it is aged in the bottle for 12 more months, to make sure the flavours are fully integrated and the wine has reached its full potential.
The vineyard of Rubinelli Vajol is very small, only covering 10 hectares, with a wine cellar and fruttaio set at the very centre. It is farmed in a very traditional way, with vines planted in terraces. The fields form a south-facing amphitheatre, which is very favourable for grape-growing because lots of sunshine helps the grapes to ripen fully. The cold breezes from Lake Garda to the west and the Alps to the north keep the air fresh even on the hottest days of summer, helping the grapes to retain their natural acidity. This area is famous for its natural mineral springs, and this water naturally flows just a few meters under the fields. This means that the vineyard is well-watered even in the driest seasons. The Rubinelli family relies fully on sustainable methods: they avoid all weed killers and synthetic fertilisers, and the grapes are harvested only by hand.
Tasting notes: Enchanting deep red garnet colour. Expressive, concentrated aromas of cranberry and raspberry, supported by notes of biscuit as well as delicate dry fig, tobacco and leather. Being a classic Amarone, this wine is dry, with refined tannins, a high level of alcohol and a full body. It benefits from medium natural acidity, and captivates with pronounced flavours of strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, leather and tobacco. Long, elegant finish.
Ageing potential: 10 years
Awards: Gambero Rosso – Two Glasses (2011,12,13 vintages) | Wine Enthusiast – 90 points (2012 vintage) | The WineHunter – Rosso (2013 vintage) | James Suckling – 93 points (2013 vintage) | James Suckling – 94 points (2012 vintage)
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