Italian wine: It's All About Being Different with Tenuta Sant'Antonio

Mar 15, 2019 69

Time to visit a wine region I have had much personal experience with thanks to the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella.  I have taken a couple trips over to the Valpolicella wine region over the last few years tasting through the wonderful wines including Valpolicella, Soave and the prized Amarone wines that hail from this region. 

Plus, as an added bonus this is a beautiful region to visit starting with the city of love, Verona.  It’s the perfect place to base yourself and take many wonderful day trips easily accessible by Italy’s most convenient train system or rent a car and be independent to go wherever you want.   

The Land 

Set in northeastern Italy, the wine area of Valpolicella is located just north of Verona nearby to Lake Garda and the Lessini Mountains.  The land is laid out via a series of valleys enriched with rolling hills.  The area of Valpantena as seen on the map is one of the areas with the highest quality.   

The Winery 

Tenuta Sant’Antonio is owned by the Familia Castegnedi family that is operated by 4 brothers: Armando, Tiziano, Massimo and Paolo.  Their father started the dream of owning a vineyard, which is located in San Zeno di Colognola ai Colli within the hills of Illasi and the Mezzane valleys.  In 1989 the brothers bought land and property in Monti Garbi since they didn’t want to continue to sell off the fruits of their labor to cooperatives as they were with their father’s vineyard.  Their aim is to be different and not traditional and I sensed that as well from my tasting.  Here are some examples: The Telos project is where they are experimenting with producing wine without sulfites; The use plant compost instead of manure and fertilizers; They believe in a green cover without weed control; Nitrogen is used as an anti-oxidant as a protectant to the wine throughout the process.

The Grape 

Amarone della Valpolicella is one of the top respected wines of Italy.  What makes this wine unique is the style in which it is produced, known as passito.  The process in producing these wines,appassimento, is when they harvest the grapes and dry the grapes, therefore, concentrating the sugars.  This process goes on for around 90-120 days. This results in fuller bodied, structured wines, high in alcohol, but that carry a nice elegance.   

Amarone is a wine where multiple grapes make up the blend of various levels including the primary grape, corvina, as well as corvinone, molinara and rondinella.  These wines retail at higher price points, but understanding the process and time period to produce these wines makes it understandable.  The law requires at least 2 years of aging and 4 years for a riserva.   

The Wine 

2015 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella AntonioCastagnedi selection DOCG  

Made of 70% corvina, 20% rondinella, 5% croatina and 5% oseleta.  These grapes were dried for about 3 months.  They were fermented with selected yeasts for 25 days in stainless steel and then aged for 2 years in 500 litre casks of French oak.  The wine was a deep garnet color with an intense nose of rich cherries and notes of raisins.  A full-bodied wine as Amarone typically is with good acid, elegant tannins and dried red fruits.  Some warmth on the finish, expected at about 15% alcohol.  I have tried a lot of Amarone from my visits to this region and I found this wine to be quite unique from the others, but I can appreciate wines for their differences.  The recommended aging on this wine is 15 years.  ABV 15% SRP $45 

I did try a couple of their other wines, the 2016 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella Superiore NafreDOC and the 2015 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Monti Garbi.  As always, regardless of whether I received the wines as samples or not, I like to share with you the wines that I enjoyed the most and would recommend to my readers so I chose the Amarone to share with you.   

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