The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Nicolis and…Nicolis!

Posted on | December 2, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

Camacho‘Tis the season and for me that also means digging out the Amarone from the cellar. Amarone, produced in the Veneto in northeast Italy, are perfect for sipping on a chilly night or for the end of a good meal. A well-made Amarone is ambrosia; it’s also difficult to make and it’s not cheap. Amarone is full of bold aromas of cherry, licorice, fig, carob, cinnamon and plum, along with notes of pepper, chocolate and earth, and its palate balances its high alcohol with acidity. One of the things that make Amarone so special is its production. First, the grapes are hand harvested; then they are laid out on straw mats where they dry; in fact, the wine’s DOCG regulations require that 40% of the grapes water content has to evaporate (this is called appassimento and it takes 90-120 days). The dried grapes are slowly pressed and slowly fermented for up to 50 days before being transferred and aged in barrel for at least two years. The result is a wine that is intense and deep in color, elegant and powerful

One producer that makes Amarone full of passion is Nicolis, founded in 1951. A family labor of love, the Nicolis estate is located in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico district, and it’s one of only twelve family-owned wineries that comprises “Famiglie dell’Amarone D’Arte,” or Amarone Families, an organization whose sole purpose is to protect the region from overproduction. Each of the wines produce by Nicolis shows the balance and richness that make Amarone so extraordinary. I wanted to share two wines from the estate, one is an everyday Valpolicella, and the other an extraordinary Amarone.

Nicolis 2011 Valpolicella Superiore Seccal $24.99

Nicolis makes wine in relatively small quantities and stays focused on quality and that is noticeable in their single-vineyard Valpolicella ripasso. A ripasso means that flavor and alcohol have been added to regular Valpolicella by letting it pass over un-pressed must of Amarone, so you can imagine how dense it can be. This single-vineyard wine is soft and approachable with ripe blackberry and a hint of tobacco and spice. The palate is silky with tangy acidity and grippy tannins that linger. Drink now and through the holidays.

Nicolis 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico $69.99

This is a dense, powerful Amarone with a nose full of ripe plume, spice, cocoa, tobacco and slight hints of leather mingled with herb and earth. The palate is full and velvety with chewy tannins and a nice, lingering finish. It’s a rare, affordable Amarone, and it’s worth every penny. Drink 2018- 2029.


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