2011 Amarone grapes ready

Boxes full of dried grapes for Amrone waiting to be squeezed.
Boxes full of dried grapes for Amrone waiting to be squeezed.

Due to the early harvest caused by the exceptionally hot Summer 2011, and to the also exceptionally warm and dry October, after only two months of drying, Amarone and Recioto grapes are now ready to be squeezed and fermented.

Of course this is not a decision that a winery can take on its own. According to the strict DOCG regulations, it is the Valpolicella Consortium that sets the minimum requirements for any step in the process of Amarone wine making. And this happens also for those parameters that are subject to variations such as harvest, drying, etc. A wine maker then can decide to dry grapes longer, but not shorter.

For 2011 vintage, the Valpolicella Consortium allowed to squeeze grapes for Amarone from November 15th.

2011, a vintage to remember

Cross fingers, touch wood, or iron if you are in Italy.

Italians are very superstitious, wine makers and wine lovers do not want to say it loud, afraid that something could go wrong in the next couple of weeks, but 2011 is going to be one of the greatest vintages in recent years in Valpolicella.

Spring and early Summer were rainy, letting vines developing an abundant foliage that provided nourishment to bunches.

Second half of August in the whole Verona area was extremely hot, one of the hottest in the past decade. Nevertheless, because of previous rains, soil provided moisture to vine deep roots and bunches rapidly developed high sugar content.

End of August and beginning of September are now still dry and warm, but with nice breezes and cooler nights that are helping developing a good acidity inside the berries.

The perfect combination of the right weather conditions at the right time.

In Valpolicella tension is perceivable in the air. There are tracks running back and forth from cellars and vineyards, transporting wooden or plastic crates that are washed and laid neatly along the vine lines. Fermentation vets are being emptied, bottling or putting in barrels the last few liters of Valpolicella or Amarone.

The harvest of white grapes have already started in some areas such as Soave or Custoza, and even in Valpolicella there are few vineyards where they are already picking the first bunches even if the harvest will be at his peak in Valpolicella only in two weeks.

Of course, the process of making Amarone is long and complicate and everything has to be perfeclty done in order to have the best wine, but having excellent grapes is the first and most important step in the production of a memorable wine. So, do not forget 2011 and in a 2 or 3 years, when the first bottles of Amarone will be ready, we will be talking again of this vintage.

In the mean time don’t miss the chance to experience harvest time, visiting drying lofts where the bunches for the production of Amarone and Recioto are laid to dry, joining one of our wine and winery tours in Valpolicella.