THE STORY BEGINS
In January, while in Verona, I attended a wine dinner and sat next to Andrea Lonardi, a young workaholic that travels the globe for Bertani- a winery from Veneto who is one of the most influential producers in the region. At the wine dinner with Andrea, I sampled two amazing wines of the Bertani collection and was overcome by their quality and authenticity-I wanted more, hence my return to Verona four months later to sample their portfolio of wines-Amarone is my favorite-and to visit the vineyards and production area to get a better grasp on who Bertani is.
Founded in 1857, the dream of the brothers, Gaetano and Giovan Battista, was to purchase the best land in the region and produce the best wine available. Their philosophy of owning their vineyards and bottling their wine was a way to gain dominance and independence in an industry that often leased land and paid for bottling.
Gaetano was a gifted winemaker, having studied winemaking in France under Guyot, who was considered a leading expert in viticulture at his time and still today. (Isn’t there a pruning method named after Guyot?)
The vision 160 years ago is still alive today, same idea, but, some different players. Cantine Bertani was bought by Tenimenti Angelini in 2011, also a family-owned wine producer, based in Tuscany. Angelini kept the same management team in place and are running the operations separately.
Bertani owns almost 500 acres of vineyards
Bertani has created an image-an icon in the industry. The Bertani labels have been the same since 1958, magnetizing the consumer with its hypnotic label. Consistency, transparency (say what you do) and commitment to quality paired with terroir recognition has made the name, Bertani, stand out from the crowd.
At 8am sharply, I was picked up at my rented apartment in Verona by Stefano Mangiarotti, who just returned from living in New York for seven years, helping Bertani’s operations in North America. I was his link to America. We drove for half an hour, ending up at the headquarters of Bertani-a large historical facility where wine was produced and stored, as well as being the home of the administrative staff.
After a quick coffee (you know we are in Italy), Stefano showed me the facility in Grezzana, the heart of the operation. We visited the enormous wine cellar, the bottling plant and the lofts where the grapes are dried on straw mats. ‘Originally, the silk merchants used the lofts prior to the instillation of the drying mats’, said Stefano.
Immaculate and clean, the headquarters had a sophisticated look that was sleek and futuristic-much like the image of Bertani.
It was a relatively short drive from the headquarters to the closest vineyard, located on an old estate, with a panoramic view of the hills of the Veneto. ‘This is where our varietals live’ said Mr. Mangiarotti.
The land was hilly, terraced and huge-as far as the eye could see.
Stefano pointed out that in the future, the caves in the mountain will be turned into wine cellars-a unique approach-like many others Bertani takes.
We stopped and looked at the green vines and home to many of Bertani’s grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garganega, Trebbiano di Lugano, Cortese, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Oselata.
Stefano said that the traditional grapes for the Valpolicella collection are grown on this hill. He emphasized the grape make-up for the classics.
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC uses Corvina and Rondinella, while Ripasso Villa Novare Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC ; Valpolicella Villa Novare Valpolicella Classico DOC; Amarone Villa Arvedi Valpolicella Valpantena DOC; Recioto della Valpolicella Valpantena DOC and Secco Bertani Valpolicella Valpantena DOC use Rondinella and Corvina Veronese.
|My afternoon was spent with winemaker Giordano Formenti, a young, energetic winemaker who carried the weight of Bertani’s iconic portfolio.
After a walk around the loading dock, where I spotted a shipment to Palm Bay, their US distributor, we visited the wine cellar and the impressive production area.
He brought me to where he makes his wine, then upstairs to a large tasting room where we sampled nine wines.
Sereole Soave 2016
Three months after attending a wine dinner with Andrea Lonardi, my fantasy of visiting Bertani came true. The wines I tasted in Verona in January came alive at the headquarters of Bertani at Via Asiago 1, Grezzana, thanks to some persistence of mine and the help of Michela Bonomi for arranging my daytime visit, Stefano Mangiarotti for showing me the vineyard and picking me up, as well as a wonderful wine tasting and wine lunch with winemaker extraordinaire, Giordano Formenti.
(A special thanks goes to Paola Baschirotto)
Tradition and style-repeated over and over make Bertani the winery it is today. Repeating , repeating, repeating style turns wines into classics. The same consistency in your palate has been recognized at Bertani. This philosophy of making wine as consistent as in the prior vintage is their trademark.
It’s a lesson for all of us.