I believe that you can only really talk about things if you have tasted them. Maybe that’s why I like talking about wines so much, because so many things excite me during my exploratory tastings. Italy as a wine country is a real adventure playground, and I’m just getting started – but that’s a good thing. This time I’d like to introduce you to the Brigaldara winery. I had a date with several red wines, and was smitten from the first sip. The great thing: already for about 10 euros you can get an impression here in the glass fun makers from Valpolicella, of which I present you four specifically. Of course, the Brigaldara winery has a larger, exclusive selection. Winemaker Stefano Cesari has dedicated himself above all to the traditional production of the classic Amarone red wine.
A point of honor with the Cesari family: at Brigaldara, the wine passion is also poured out to the next generation.
Here magic happens even without Harry Potter: the wine cellars of Brigaldara.
Brigaldara is a family-run winery located outside the town of San Floriano, in the heart of the Valpolicella region, north of Verona. It is located at the entrance of the Marano Valley – one of the four valleys that make up the classic Valpolicella area. This is the original and oldest wine-growing area of the region. The company’s territory covers about 50 hectares and touches three different zones in Valpolicella: Brigaldara, Case Vecie and Marcellise. Each wine area offers characteristic soils and climatic conditions as well as scents and aromas and determines the taste of the wines produced: Amarone della Valpolicella, Valpolicella Ripasso and Soave white wine. With the Valpolicella you start at just over 10 euros (the Amarone are then up to about 40 euros), which is why you can approach there curious also slowly and fits perfectly with the motto of my blog that good taste can also be affordable. If you search well.
The Cesari family, which has owned the villa and surrounding lands since 1928, is committed to the enhancement of a rich and heterogeneous property with the support of a team of young winemakers and agronomists. The are dedicated to the study and adaptation of each intervention in the vineyard to improve the terroirs and microterroirs that make up the different souls of the wines produced here. Every decision is made taking into account the importance of preserving biodiversity and respecting the vegetative-productive balance of each ecosystem. This shows once again that behind every wine you uncork there is a story all its own. And for the journey of taste, I’m happy to pay a euro or two more.
From crate to bottle: Brigaldara grapes are waiting for their personal dress code.
Other key elements are the ripening process of the grapes and the individual needs of each vineyard. Timely interventions, accurate operations and a drastic reduction of treatments in the vineyard guarantee a sustainable long-term vision for the vineyards of Brigaldara. In the Case Vecie vineyard, for example, which covers more than 70 hectares, the winery relies on a cycle of people, plants and animals. Forestry is practiced in addition to viticulture, and Brigaldara is responsible for maintaining the dry stone walls and fields, managing the truffle grounds (yes, truffles are grown there, too), and reintroducing sheep farming. There are no written recipes in the cellar, Stefano Cesari reveals. But every action, he says, is based on respect and improvement of the annual seasonal changes that affect the grape varieties. The wine is born from these unknown elements, from the inability to standardize a vintage. And this is its strength, its wonderful wonder. The man is right. That’s what makes wine so exciting, isn’t it!
Wine tip 1: Brigaldara Valpolicella
Valpolicella wine comes from the vinification of fresh grapes, mainly Corvina and Corvinone. Because the red wine here is supposed to be rather delicate and light-bodied, timing is incredibly important at harvest time. And the team timed the grape harvest perfectly. This very casual outfit of Corvina 55%, Corvinone 25%, Rondinella 20% grapes goes over the tongue as easily as I say wow when I see a great villa with a pool in the middle of vineyards. The grapes are picked in the vineyard and placed in 200 kg boxes. The wine remains in contact with the skins during fermentation. It is pumped twice a day with a delestage halfway through the fermentation process. Throughout the process the temperature is kept between about 22 ° -24 ° to preserve the fresh and delicate aromas.
Light-bodied, but with the right spice pattern: the entry-level Brigaldara Valpolicella wine.
This red wine does not cuddle with the wooden barrel, it flirts with the steel tank, and this flirtation is highly successful. The Valpolicella is smooth, buoyant, zero melancholy. The wine smells like soaking a summer shirt in cherry juice, and tastes so drinkable of dark berries, melon with Parma ham and balmy summer evening that you want to build a fountain from it. A wine with which you will have the best entertainment in company, because everyone understands the script. In other words: indulge, have fun, and dream yourself to Italy.
Valpolicella DOC 2019, Price: around 12 Euro, via www.weingutbrigaldara.com/shop
Interview with Lamberto und Antonio Cesari
What is the fascination of wine for you?
We think the fascination lies in the ability of a glass to convey different emotions each time, telling and describing grape varieties, terroirs and production philosophies.
What fascinates you about your profession?
Definitely the versatility: from working in the field to making wine in the cellar, from worrying about the weather forecast to traveling between continents to present our wines (when it was possible).
Do you remember your first encounter with wine – the first emotional moment?
Maybe when we were kids, in the summer, bathing in the tanks (full of water instead of wine…probably).
How do you transport the tradition of the winery into modern times?
We try to use technology to create a modern wine that follows our tradition, but equally to explain the production to people.
What role does social media play in reaching new customers?
They are definitely crucial to reach new customers, both in terms of age (younger customers) and new target groups. During this period, it was also important to keep in touch with our traditional customers and try new ways of presenting our wines. But we still miss seeing them live and welcoming them here at the winery.
Timing is crucial when harvesting grapes. Only then can the grapes develop their full potential.
Making-of: At Brigaldara, too, everything works thanks to teamwork.
For beginners: what are the special characteristics of Amarone?
Amarone della Valpolicella wine is produced in Veneto, in the Valpolicella region, near Verona. The main characteristics of this appellation are: intense aroma with strong notes of dried fruit, spices and cherry, currant and chocolate. In addition, dry and yet extremely soft on the palate. The wines have a very deep red color with violet reflections. They are made mainly from Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone grapes. The taste is full-bodied, intense and elegant, of immediate pleasantness.
The peculiarity of this type of wine is that the grapes are sometimes allowed to dry for 3 or 4 months in special rooms called “fruit cellars”. After that, at the right time, the step of vinification can begin. It is a wine to age, but the Amarone della Valpolicella expresses good qualities in the first years and does not need a long aging to reach a good balance.
Which of your wines should we definitely try in Germany? And if you had to compare it with an Italian soccer player or fashion designer, which would it be and why?
You should definitely try our Valpolicella Superiore, which would be a Roberto Baggio: rather quiet, not a superstar off the field, but incredibly elegant and a poet at play.
Which of your wines would go well with a father-son evening?
Recioto with strawberries, our father’s favorite wine.
And which one for a particularly romantic dinner?
The Amarone Case Vecie, without a doubt!
They also play tailor: the barrels refine the wines, provide the final touch character.
Wine tip 2: Brigaldara Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore
What I immediately thought of Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore? A nice summer shirt, a pair of chinos, a light breeze around the ears, an appetizer selection with antipasti, ham, cheese, regional olives. Accompanied by this red wine, which then already ignites the next level, but remains absolutely understandable and approachable even for beginners. The Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore has one or two twists built into the script.
Smart twist: Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore was born from referencing Valpolicella wine to the marc of Amarone. And beware: also already has 14.5%, who is not used to this, please enjoy with caution. After the fermentation of Amarone, the wine is separated from the marc, which still contain substances that can release perfumes and aromas. The Valpolicella wine then remains in contact with the marc of the Amarone wine for about 30. 5 days, triggering a new fermentation that enriches the structure of the wine. Likewise the fragrance. To me, the red wine reminds me of ripe, dried fruit, which is further enhanced with its own blend of spices. Made with vines from Brigaldara and Marcellise (150/200 mt above sea level), this wine is already noticeably more complex, has one or two more aromatic twists in it. This is also due to the fact that this Valpolicella wine is subjected to a second fermentation with Amarone oak. The process takes 3-5 days – with constant pumping over to keep the top moist. After that, the classy fruit salad matures in stainless steel, followed by 2 years in 25-hl Slavonian oak barrels. Into the glass there comes a velvety spicy trip to Italy, you sleep in a bed of cherry, sour cherry, vanilla, but all as smooth as a waterbed. This wine, too, does not want to be drawn into a poem interpretation, but simply enjoyed.
Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2018, Price: 14,90, via www.weingutbrigaldara.com/shop
Wine tip 3: Brigaldara Amarone de Valpolicella Case Vecie
Since the 80s until today, Valpolicella follows a particular style of wine based on large concentrations. This leads to an Amarone that has long dryings and excessive residual sugar. A style that Brigaldara has radically reversed, seeking the traditional lightness and freshness that characterized Valpolicella wines in the past. A good decision, because the wines have a real depth of character, but are insanely delicate, elegant and smoothly woven. Even though all of the wines tasted have their individual flavor dress codes, the unexcited, honest signature of the winemakers is always apparent. And so you can focus entirely on discovering the region’s characteristics in the wine. One of my favorites was the Amarone Case Vecie. My uncle cooked Italian food especially for the wine, and I may spoil: The wine gave such an awesome contra to the nevertheless strong veal involtini with liver stuffing that in the end everyone was thrilled. Okay, and sadly, the bottle was just quickly empty.
A great mix of styles: the Amarone Case Vecie.
Also got along great and delicious with veal voltini.
Amarone Case Vecie takes its name from the 10 hectare vineyard of the same name in Grezzana – Valpantena, 450 meters above sea level. The particularvclimatic conditions allow the grapes to ripen slowly and constantly even in the most difficult years, the late harvest time allows the winemakers to let the grapes rest colder. During this phase, the grapes develop the characteristic aromas that then make up the distinctive wine. This comes at 16.5%, so on the evening please just make this indulgence and go for it. The grapes are picked in the vineyard and placed in boxes, then dried for a few months in the fruit-drying attic. The wine remains in contact with the skins during fermentation. The pithy dress code is provided by aging for two years in barrique barrels and two years in 25-hl Slavonian oak barrels.
It already smells velvety of dark berries, I directly imagine a look of elegantly cut dark blue suit and brown Budapestern in mind, no tie, just a fine white shirt, curry yellow pocket square. After the first sip, an appearance of velvety and creaminess, pinch of pepper, pinch of roasted notes, as if a main course from the grill is about to be served. In short, the winemakers have really tailored something together.
Wine tip 4: Brigaldara Amarone de Valpolicella Classico
And on it goes with the heavyweights, which manage super easy to seduce me. The Amarone Classico is even cleaner on the tongue. A red wine that smells like whiskey and currant, and tastes like a 5-star SPA spa bath in a red fruit whirlpool.
Amarone Classico is complex and yet smooth at the same time.
Amarone Classico is made from grapes harvested in Brigaldara’s vineyards in the heart of the so-called classic area of the Valpolicella region at the entrance to the Marano Valley. The grapes used for the production of Amarone are the best exposed and most sparse. The careful selection of grapes in the vineyard and the strict control of the drying process are of the utmost importance for this wine to give its noble dress code.
Amarone Classico made from Corvina 45%, Corvinone 45%, Rondinella 10% vines follows the traditional production method and uses large-volume wooden barrels that provide the wine with loving attention for about 3 years. The Amarone Classcio snuggles one year in barrique and two years in 25-hl Slavonian oak barrels. I like that the more air is added, the longer the wine breathes, unpredictable tension emerges in the script. Velvety gulps meet peppery twists, sometimes it becomes soft and creamy, then the red wine packs a punch. But all this is done without breaking the film down into its individual parts. You stay with it from second one, but you only look forward to the end when you know that a sequel is waiting in the cellar.
Brigaldara Amarone Classico, Price: around 35 Euro, via www.weingutbrigaldara.com/shop
This is why Brigaldara must be on your wine shopping list
No lightweights, but heavy all right: the Amarone of Brigaldara.
All the wines I have tasted from the Brigaldara winery – i.e. Amarone Classico, Amarone Case Vecie, Valpolicella Ripasso – have impressed me because they are different in appearance, yet share the same signature. They are casual companions, drinking date, but also rousing Italy Amarone dress code for advanced and those who want to be. The entry especially for the curious and beginners already starts at just about ten euros – great. You get a nice teaser of where the glass journey can go, and can then try your way up piece by piece. If you get involved and invite a few friends, you will experience great Italian cinema with the Amarone wines, in which the script comes up with great aroma dialogs. I’ll be sure to check it out again!
All further information about the winery can be found at www.brigaldara.it/en/