Meet The Winemaker – Italian Style

After years of research, I have come to accept the fact that I am in love with Italian red wine. Specifically, I love the heartier reds like Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Chianti, Valpolicella and blends that combine some of the delicious flavors that come from grapes kissed by the sun and breezes of the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic, the Alps … frankly all the places that shine and blow on the Italian peninsula.

In the Valpolicella region, there is a very small winery that produces a mere 100,000 bottles of wine each year. It’s a family owned and run business called Corte Figaretto. We’ve tasted their wines and now buy them by the case. 

Most of our wines are from Sofia’s winery.

When we had a chance to meet and taste the new vintages with Sofia, the daughter and heir-apparent to the Corte Figaretto winery, we jumped at the chance. I replied to the email invitation almost before I finished reading it! I didn’t care that it was on a weeknight. I didn’t care that it was a good hour from home. Snagging a spot was a little like scoring a front row ticket to your favorite band and I didn’t want to miss my chance.

We arrived early and chatted with others already eyeing the display of wines we would be trying. The white was chilling; the reds were breathing; the perfectly chosen noshes were laid out for tasting.

Liza chose a decidedly Italian theme of red, green and white.

Our little group settled into our seats and Liza introduced our guest of honor. We learned Sofia had just arrived from Italy and was quite hoarse from the dry airplane air and stress of international travel. Despite her scratchy voice, she regaled us with stories of the winery and secrets of the blends she and her father create in the hills just north of Verona.

Sofia was dazzling and entertaining as she shared wine stories.

We were stunned to learn that to earn the coveted DOC and DOCG labels certifying Italian authenticity, each wine must submit five bottles to the government. Two go to the lab for testing, the other three are blind taste-tested for continuity of style. 

Sofia croaked through tales of why Amarone is so different. Most varietals of wine, she explained, convert 100 kg of grapes into 66 liters of wine. But for Amarone, the same 100 kilos will only become 16-22 liters of wine. While we sipped the “Amarone Especiale” we reveled in the sweet essence of blackberries with hints of leather.

I swirled my Amarone, checked the color and sipped with glee.

Tasting sips tantalized our tongues! I took copious notes. We added another case to an order we’d placed in advance of the event. We marveled at the deep, elegant, spectacular aromas and the fascinating party of excitement playing out on our taste buds. While I double-dipped a few of my favorites, Greg dutifully restrained so he could safely drive us home. 

My notes continued on the back of the page.

As the evening ended, we loaded our purchases in the back of the SUV, hugged our hostess and bid sad farewells. I offered a few tips on how Sofia could possibly ease her sore throat and raspy voice. A week later, as I pour over my notes from the evening and prepare to sip a glass of a favorite red, I am reminded that wine is so personal. 

There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Take your time to find what you love and drink it unapologetically.

© The World A to Z, LLC 2023 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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