When winemaker Andrea Lonardi took the stage at September’s Full Circle Beverage Conference in San Francisco to present a tasting of Bertani Amarone Classico, he had what amounted to a Sommelier Justice League by his side: Master Sommeliers Brian Cronin, Tim Gaiser and Peter Granoff, all of whom provided perspective and humor as they tasted through 50 years of Bertani winemaking prowess.
Born and raised in a vine-growing Veronese family, Lonardi began his tenure at Bertani in 2012. Although he didn’t personally make any of the wines that were tasted during the masterclass — the 2008 Amarone was bottled in 2016 — the pride he showed while presenting them was rather paternal. “The wines we are making today will be presented by another winemaker 50 years from now,” he told attendees.
The Birth of Bertani Amarone
Being both modern and ancient, Amarone is a paradoxical style; its rising popularity and commercialization in the 1950s gave the Valpolicella region a wine of true cult status; one that holds its own next to ageworthy Barolos and Brunellos.
Despite the well-worn anecdotes about the “accidental” discovery of the style, Lonardi contests that it was made quite intentionally at Bertani and, as such, the winery is the birthplace of the style. Amarone was first produced by Bertani after they purchased the Tenuta Novare estate in the heart of Valpolicella Classica in 1958. While the label has never changed, Londari credits climate with driving changes in wine style. “Climate change is a positive for the Valpolicella region,” said Lonardi. “But, I’m missing some of the traditional ‘greenness’ in the wines.”
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