These days in our cellar we are pressing Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes to produce our Amarone 2016.
Here below we’d like to give you some information about the “appassimento” method and the way we face this delicate phase of the production, in order to preserve the quality of our organic grapes.
What is the “appassimento”?
When talking about the appassimento, we refer to a very ancient practice, which has been known and used in Italy since the Romans’ period (1st Century B.C.), mainly for the production of sweet straw wines.
The appassimento consists in leaving the grapes to dry, so that the berries lose a considerable amount of their water content while all the other substances get concentrated. There’s more than one way to let this happen:
- leaving the drying process start directly on the plant, twisting the bunches’ peduncle to stop the sap from flowing;
- where the weather conditions allow it, the grapes can be left to dry outdoor on mats of straw, taking advantage of the sun’s energy;
- the grapes can also be allowed to dry indoor, in special ventilated rooms, placed in cases, mats or even hanging, to allow the air to circulate.
This third method is the one used in Valpolicella.
The appassimento in the Valpolicella area
The appassimento has a crucial role for the Valpolicella Appellation, beacause it is connected to the production of two of its wines: the Recioto and the Amarone della Valpolicella. The Recioto is a sweet wine, which is not very wellknown out of the production area, but has a great historical importance. It is the most ancient wine produced with the appassimento method in Valpolicella – some researches say that the Romans produced a wine called Acinaticum, which is likely to be its anchestor – and it is the traditional wine for local celebrations. The Amarone is an evolution of the Recioto and started to get famous during the Thirties, originating from a “wrong” Recioto. A barrel of Recioto didn’t stop fermenting and the yeasts consumed all of the sugar, making it a dry wine.
In the Valpolicella area the grapes are dried in special rooms called fruttai. In the past, these rooms where only built on the upper floor of the cellars or in places where the wind was enough to dry the grapes. Nowadays, the climate changes and the unstable weather conditions make it more and more difficult to dry the grapes this way. The appassimento mainly takes place in rooms that allow to control humidity and ventilation.
The Fidora appassimento method
Since the very beginning, our work has been driven by a scientific or so-called Galilean approach – like Guido used to call it – which goes deep into nature’s dynamics, in order to understand and to respect them, aiming to obtain the highest quality products. This is the idea we followed to develop our appassimento technique.
First of all, our appassimento begins with an accurate selection in the vineyards, during the harvest. The air circulation is crucial for a correct drying process of the grapes. For this reason we are extremely strict in our selection: the bunches must be perfectly intact and their berries disposition must be the most suitable for the air circulation.
In order to preserve the high quality of our grapes, we decided to divide the appassimento into two phases. The first one is very short, about ten days, and takes place in a special fruit drying room. Here the ventilation is more intense, to quickly eliminate the excessive humidity, which is the most dangerous for the grapes right after the harvest. A high humidity at the beginning of the drying process could create aggressive rots that would destroy the bunches. After this phase, we move the grapes into the main fruit drying room, where the air is softer and allows to complete the appassimento more gradually, in 90-120 days, until the pressing time.
This way we can honour the great efforts we made in the vineyards: after the grapes have dried for a few months, they concentrate all of their substances, maximising their natural characteristics.