Amarone della Valpolicella, the famous red from the Veneto in northern Italy, has always been a tough wine for me to love. Super-rich (and super alcoholic) I find many examples to be lacking in character, acidity, you name it. The area known as Valpolicella, which translates to "valley of many cellars" is also an industrial valley where much of Italy's wine and olive oil is bottled. That mindset, of volume over quality, business over agriculture, seems to permeate into winemaking as well. Until recently.
Enter Camilla Rossi Chavounet. Camilla is the youngest daughter in a family of vineyard owners that previously sold their grapes. Camilla fell in love with wine and decided to take back the family farm and produce her own. Working organically, employing labor intensive farming practices and most importantly, ageing her top wines before release has brought some much needed fresh air to the stodgy old cellars of the region.
The wines are excellent of course but what we fell in love with, at a recent lunch event at Il Gattopardo in NYC, was the thoughtfulness behind each wine. The basic Valpolicella 2016 is fresh, bright and vibrant made for easy drinking with a low 12% abv. The Amarone 2012 is one of the best examples of the wine I have tried in a long time, powerful yet not over-ripe, with amazing acidity to go up against the massive frame and 16.5% abv. But for me the real show stopper was her Valpolicella Superiore 'Profasio' 2013. This intriguing wine has all the best parts of Amarone, silky rich texture, mouth-watering aromatics, but clocks in at only 13% abv! She achieves this by applying the Amarone technique of drying the grapes to just 50% of the harvest and then only for a month, not the usual 3 months. This wine was a total revelation and one of the best wines coming out of the region right now.
-Morgan Pruitt October 2017