Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Amarone della Valpolicella, Antonio Castagnedi 2015 | Veneto, Italy

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the Week – October 19, 2020

Valpolicella is one of the most prestigious Italian winemaking areas in the Veneto region and is located northwest of the elegant Roman town of Verona in northeast Italy close to Lake Garda. It is an intensely beautiful region, whose name comes from “val polis cellae” meaning “valley of many cellars” and is characterized by the steep, vine-laced ridges that run alongside its gurgling mountain streams.

The Valpolicella wines surprise with their array of aromas and nuances, punchy flashes of spiciness, and flavors spanning from tart to sweet. A wide range of indigenous red grape varieties are planted in the meager soils left by ancient volcanic activity: a mix of volcanic tufa, calcareous clays and, in the east, alluvial material. The variety of terroir has given Valpolicella the possibility to nurture many varietals: the tannic, thick-skinned Corvina, the aromatic Rondinella and the acidic Molinara are the most planted.

Valpolicella DOC and Valpolicella Superiore DOC are the basic wines produced in Valpolicella. They are traditionally fermented and the wines are dry.

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG is made with grapes that are dried for 4-5 months to lose water and concentrate sugars. Sugars have all fermented to dryness, but the “illusion of sweetness” remains. In Italian, the name Amarone literally means “the Great Bitter,” originally, this was to distinguish it from the Recioto which is sweeter.

Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG is a dessert wine made the same way as Amarone but the fermentation process is halted before completion to leave residual sugar in the wine.

Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC or Ripasso della Valpolicella are made by macerating Amarone pomace (grape skins and solids left after the fermentation) with fresh Valpolicella wine.

Tenuta Sant’Antonio finds its origins with Antonio Castagnedi, a grape grower in the Illasi Valley of eastern Valpolicella in the late 20th century who left 50 acres of vineyards to his four sons. The brothers Armando, Tiziano, Paolo and Massimo worked as consultants for other wine estates in Italy and continued to grow grapes on their inherited land but had bigger dreams. In 1989, they took the next step, buying another 75 acres of top-quality vineyard land on the high terrain of Monti Garbi and making the leap into wine production as a family. The first vintage of Tenuta Sant’Antonio came in 1995.

Tenuta Sant'Antonio, Amarone della Valpolicella, Antonio Castagnedi 2015

Origin: Valpolicella, Italy
Varietals: 70% Corvina and Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina, 5% Oseleta
Sustainability: Sustainable, eco-friendly
Suggested retail price: $49.00
ABV: 15%

This Amarone was made in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 25 days. The wine was matured for two years in 500 liter casks.

The wine is ruby red with purple reflections. Ripe dark berries, spicy aromas of licorice, cedar and black pepper with a hint of chocolate lead the nose. The full-bodied palate offers ripe black plum, a hint of coffee, balsamic and savory with ripe tannins with a touch of sweetness and finishing long and elegantly.

Suggested food pairings: Braised meats, pork, poultry, mushrooms, steaks and aged cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Tenuta Sant’Antonio official website.