• Garbole – The mad dreamers of Valpolicella

    It felt like seeing the painting of Pablo Picasso for the first time. Cubic, awkward angles, mangled and aloof. There is a sense of disagreement among all the senses. The colours of the brand, purely black and red, seems to scream danger. The wines are non-conforming and they speak a message, you don’t have to like them.

    The Finetto brothers, Ettore and Filippo, came from the little-known town of Tregnano, in the uphill spot of Val d’Illasi. Here, the average temperature is cooler due to the higher average altitude, the humidity is also lower compared to the Classico area which is closer to Lake Garda. And if anyone needs a big name to remind them of the quality of this valley, then it is worth noting that Dal Forno is just a short distance away from Garbole. However, these wines do not need the affirmation of big brands, since the quality within the glass can speak for themselves.

    The first vintage of Garbole was in 2001, fermented in the shed of their grandmother’s house. And while today, eighteen years later, they have a proper winery, the production remains at a minuscular level. All of Garbole wines underwent varying degrees of the drying process used in Amarone, causing the actual number of wines made much lesser than the harvested volume of grapes. Rules of appellation are only applied when it suits their production and style. Liberal mentality, selective and principled with their approach.

    The most affordable wine from Garbole is Heletto, which Ettore described as their equivalent of Valpolicella Superiore. Although the wine is labelled as Rosso Veneto IGP, it is made with the similar grape varieties (Corvina and Rondinella) as a Valpolicella DOC, with the addition of other native grapes such as Croatina. The wine is extensively aged for as long as six years in the bottle. In fact, Ettore would have aged the wines close to eternity, but it is his bank manager who would have the final say in the wine business. Most wineries practically operated on bank loans and mortgages.

    The latest vintage of Heletto in the market is of the 2011 vintage. Smokey touch on the dried red fruits, smooth and luscious on the mouthfeel, but with a lively acidity that sobers up the experience. This wasn’t a Valpolicella Superiore equivalent but more like a polished Ripasso. More complex than the former, but the refined finesse of the latter.

    Although the winery produces Amarone della Valpolicella, for the sake of (my futile) brevity I will move the attention to two more interesting wines, Hurlo and Hestremo. Hurlo is a red wine made primarily from Corvina but blended with many obscure grape varieties like Saccola, Pontedarola and Negrar. Ettore admits that while he can identify the grape varieties planted in the vineyard, the exact count and percentage of the components cannot be accurately determined. What we know however is that there are about 2,300 bottles produced in each vintage, and there are only two vintages so far, so getting one is both expensive and difficult.

    The next interesting wine is Hestremo, a Recioto della Valpolicella, the original classic wine of Valpolicella. In recent decades, Recioto has fallen out of favour from the market as people became averse to drinking sweet wines. What I considered a shame is that Recioto della Valpolicella is possibly one of the finest sweet red wines in Italy, if not across the world and very few people are actually willing to try it. Few producers are making it, and even fewer arrived in the overseas market.

    Again, Hestremo like the other wines of Garbole has seen extensive ageing before release to the market. The grapes were green-harvested in August, where the lower part of the grape bunches that hadn’t reach ripeness stage are removed from the plant. Allowing the upper part of the grape bunch to accumulate the best ripeness, this action reflects the tradition of Recioto where only the “ears” of the grape bunch are used for its wines in the past. The extended ageing developed charming dried crushed blackberries, wood spices, underlined with a delicate yet noticeable perfume of violets. Its entry was tightly wound and broadened on the mid-palate before leaving a touch of roasted almond note. There is sweetness without being cloying, and tannin textured without being grippy. Polished like a pebble from the river bed.

    The Finetto brothers are artists at heart, craftsmen of their land, a duo who are not afraid of dreaming too big. Others’ opinions probably don’t matter much to them. And many people will not take a liking for their products on account of the label, the brand, or even the prices. But that’s not going to stop Ettore and Filippo from making what they love and drink. For me, both the Heletto and Hestremo have a decent quality and price ratio. And drinking the Hurlo is both a treat and a discovery, as long as someone else is paying for it.

    © 2019 Wine Xin. All rights reserved.

    SOURCE: https://winexin.sg/2019/01/31/garbole-the-mad-dreamers-of-valpolicella/

  • 2014 Barbarescos: Triumphs and Question Marks

    The early reports on the 2014 vintage through much of Europe were not optimistic: rain, lots of it. In some places, it lasted through the spring. In parts of Italy, it carried on through much of the growing season.

    Farmers depend on rain when it comes at the right time and in the right amount to keep their vines healthy. But too much, combined with warm temperatures and plenty of humidity, can be a disaster, leading to mildew, fungus and rot. Yields can be diminished and, without the utmost care, the quality of the wines can be harmed.

    Yet to the surprise of many people who follow vintage reports as if they were the gospel, the wines from some areas where gloom was deepest have turned out surprisingly well.

    The Piedmont region of northwestern Italy was one such place where pessimism seemed to have the upper hand. But early reports on the 2014 Barbarescos from those who had visited the region — and tasted from barrels and bottles — indicated that the wines were not at all bad. On the contrary, most tasters asserted, they were quite good. Continue reading 2014 Barbarescos: Triumphs and Question Marks

  • Why you should be drinking organic wine

    Once there was a time when people, both in the wine trade and the general consumer, would actively avoid organic wines, if they even knew they existed in the first place.
    But organic wine is on the rise among wine lovers. Thanks in part to an increase in the number of talented young winemakers actively seeking out organically grown grapes to make their wines from, organic wines are finally carving out a niche for themselves. And drinkers are reaping the rewards.

    An organic wine is a wine made from grapes that have been grown without the use of artificial or synthetic chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides. To keep the weeds and bugs at bay, organic farmers work with nature, rather than against it, by boosting their vineyard’s biodiversity. For example, they introduce cover crops to provide a habitat for beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of problem species, or have small sheep graze between the vine rows, eating the grass and weeds. In this way, the vineyard becomes a self-regulating, natural ecosystem, which is able to combat problems intrinsically and eliminates the need for artificial, and potentially toxic, chemicals. Continue reading Why you should be drinking organic wine

  • Organic, Bio-dynamic and Vegan

    Pievalta Castelli di Jesi Winery: Pioneers of Biodynamic Agriculture in Le Marche

    The Pievalta Castelli di Jesi Winery, located in Le Marche, was founded in 2002 with biodynamic agriculture in mind. Silvano Brescianini of Barone Pizzini spotted the potential of the Verdicchio grape and decided to acquire the property. He recruited Alessandro Fenino, a young enologist from Milan, to manage this newly acquired land. Thus began the story of this pioneering winery.

    Fenino studied the Verdicchio grape and decided to farm the estate, adhering to purely organic methods. In 2005, he implemented a biodynamic conversion of the vineyards. In growing cover crops between vineyard rows “green manure,” Fenino successfully reactivated the soil, while stimulating the growth of many other plants, too. His method acts as a kind of organic renaissance for the vineyard. Continue reading Organic, Bio-dynamic and Vegan


    A 645-gram Tuber Magnum Pico valued at 3.000 euros is the “Royal Truffle 2016”, crowned at the “International White Truffle Fair in Alba” (edition 86, until November 27th). The annual award is given for the best truffle found in the hills of Langhe, Monferrato and Roero (the hunter, from San Marzano Oliveto, was David Curzietti, selector of Le Trifole of Curzietti David). Continue reading A 645-GRAM WHITE TRUFFLE HAS BEEN CROWNED “ROYAL TRUFFLE 2016”


    In 2015, world vineyards, regardless of the intended end use of the grapes and the vineyards and including those not yet in production, covered 7.5 million hectares, which is 28.000 hectares less than 2014. The Chinese vineyard confirms its second place worldwide, and reported an increase of 34.000 hectares, which is more or less the same amount the European Union lost during the