This week, class focus fell on two Italian varietals, Corvina and Nebbiolo, varieties that play plum roles in production of Amarone and Barolo respectively.
The first explored was Veneto-native Corvina. Capable of creating fruity table wines when simply vinified, it also has an essential role in wines like Valpolicella and Amarone, beverages which evolve from a specific winemaking technique that has passed through centuries. This method is appassimento, which, as defined by Wine Spectator magazine, is an “Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for a few weeks up to several months to concentrate the sugars and flavors.” When sugars ripen to a likeable level, the winemaker presses them, adds yeast to incite fermentation, and ultimately racks the wine into oak barrels to begin the aging process. The Allegrini family has adapted this recipe to create Palazzo della Torre, a softly-textured, fruity red table wine with suggestions of black berries and dried fruit. Inspired by wines that are borne of ripasso winemaking techniques, the family winemaker permits a portion of dried fruit to be pressed and included in its offering. It pairs well with tuna.
Nebbiolo was on the table next. The king of Piedmontese wine, it is put through years of rigorous aging before its release as Barolo, a tannic, nuanced red wine. Lawful requirements for simple Barolo requires at least three years of aging while Riservas need four to five years of aging, majority in oak.