The essence of essences: today we will talk about wooden barrels.

What is the impact of the wooden barrel’s quality used to age wines in the final product?

How can age wine in oak influence the wine aromas and flavors? 

Pier Paolo Antolini, a producer from Marano di Valpolicella, ages his Amarone in four different types of oak. Antolini, and his brother Stefano, welcomed us with a smile framed in his hipster beard and a glass of wine. They took us to the cellar, which is small and packed with wooden barrels.

After pressing the dried grapes of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara, the must is fermented and then drained. It is from now on that the story becomes fascinating: Pier Paolo divides the must into four different parcels age in oak, chestnut, cherry, and mulberry barrels. According to him, these casks interact in a very different way with the wine.
We started this incredible journey by tasting different parcels of the wine that was aging in different types of barrels to be blended and become the Amarone 2016.

The one aging in oak has dark and toasted aromas emerged, with hints of walnut, almond, and cloves. On the palate, the tannin is rather rough and the aftertaste resembles cigar leaves and nutmegs, while if lashing freshness. Secondly, we sampled the wine aging in chestnut cask, which has aromas of violet and rose petals, with hints of red fruit jam. It is a full-bodied wine that even gives the impression of having sugar residue. This sensation is immediately swept away by an extremely dry tannin.

The third wine sampled was aging in cherry barrels. It has sweet notes of violet, cherry, and ripe raspberry, with hints of balsamic vinegar and dried tea leaves. On the palate it is intense and it seems more alcoholic than the previous ones, perhaps that is the reason that the freshness may be mitigated. Pier Paolo takes the last sample from what he called “his great love”, a barrel fo mulberry. It is a very porous wood with a sweet scent, which gives the wine aromas of honey and beeswax. On the palate, on the contrary, is very fresh and tannic, with hints of cocoa powder.

Finally, it was time to taste the wine assemble and bottled. Pier Paolo leads us to the winery’s beautiful tasting room. He poured us the Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Moropio 2015, which is assembled as it follows: 45% from oak barrels, 25% from cherry barrels, 25% from chestnut barrels and 5% of mulberry barrels. Incredibly, we can taste all the scents we have tasted in the cellar in that glass of wine: it is an epiphany!

 

We could recognize the toasted notes from the oak, the floral notes from the chestnut, the balsamic notes from cherry and the honey notes from the mulberry. The bouquet if amalgamated, dense and super pleasant. On the palate is deep, rich and well balanced.