I started day 3 with an invigorating run along the Adige river in Verona. The view of the river was stunning, and I had to do something to avoid gaining 20 pounds on this trip. Downtown was bustling with people running, biking, and getting themselves to work or school. I got back to the hotel to get ready for the day’s wineries. We piled into the bus and headed to Ca’ del Bosco. We had no idea we were about to witness such grandeur.
Ca del Bosco is located in Erbusco, a commune in the province of Brescia in Lombardy and they are famous for Franciacorta. Virginia began our tour in the lobby with a pop-up lighted diagram demonstrating which grapes grew on and around the property. The lights on the diagram clearly indicated that this was Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Blanco country, the grapes of Franciacorta. The winemaking for Franciacorta is done in the Methodo Classico which is the same fermentation process as Champagne. DOCG status wines are produced from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory of Franciacorta, on the hills located between the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia.
The property was sprinkled with spectacular pieces of art. The belief is that the materials, or land, call out to the artist and that there are many similarities in the creation of sculptures and wine. Virginia shared the story of Ca del Bosco’s origin beginning with Maurizio Zanella, a 15-year-old boy who fell in love with Champagne. He and his mother moved to Erbusco and planted the first 5 rows of vineyard in 1979. Clearly, a creative mind has no age. This was the beginning of an empire.
We walked through the halls of Ca del Bosco realizing this tour was only scratching the surface. This place had the highest quality of technology I have ever seen, yet there were moments when I felt as though we were in the basement of a castle built in the 1600s. It was like the Jetsons meets Game of Thrones. At the conclusion of our tour, we mingled with various members of the Consortium and had the opportunity to taste their wines. We shared wine and food with the representatives of Banfi, Cantine Lunae, Cantine Mesa, and Santa Margherita. We grazed on a magnificent assortment of cheeses, salumi, prosciutto, fruits, bread, and desserts while getting to know our hosts. As we were getting ready to leave Ca del Bosco, I knew had to take something special home with me. The 2007 Cuvee Annamaria Clementi now resides in my wine fridge. I was encouraged to keep it there for at least one year to give it enough time to fully express itself.
We hopped on the bus and went back to the hotel for a quick break. We had to say goodbye to Faye, our wonderfully enlightened tour guide. She passed the baton to Camilla who would be taking care of us for the rest of the week. Lars decided to come with us to our next destination. We had time to change and down a quick espresso before heading to Sartori di Verona. We were greeted by Carmen on the grounds of Sartori located in the heart of Veneto’s Valpolicella district. Needless to say Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Garganega are the main grapes in these vineyards.
Carmen shared some history starting with Pietro Sartori who purchased Villa Maria in 1898, a vineyard with a small cellar attached to assure a source of high-quality wine for his hotel. A few years later his son, Regolo built the winery. In the 1950s Regolo’s sons expanded to International recognition and today Andrea Sartori, Pietro’s great-grandson, is at the helm. Family is at the center of everything in Italy and I loved hearing about each generation.
Lars began our tastings with a beautiful 2015 Bardolino Chiaretto Rose which daintily revealed notes of strawberries and creamy caramel. We proceeded to the 2014 Ferdi Garganega which displayed aromas of vanilla, apricot, and honey expressing its 40 days in the Appassimento method. Finally, we tasted the 2011 Valpolicella Superiore, 2012 Amarone Della Valpolicella, and my favorite the 2009 Corte Bra Amarone Della Valpolicella which boasted cooked fruit, olives, and brandy. I already knew that I was partial to certain flavors but I was beginning to see a pattern in my vintage preference as well.
We hopped on the bus and headed back to Verona’s city center for dinner at Emanuel Café. Lars and Carmen took care of the ordering and soon our table was filled with salumi, prosciutto, cheeses, gnocchi topped with cheese, veal stuffed pasta, duck, scalloped potatoes, and a sampling of the wines from our tasting session. We ended dinner with Sartori’s Grappa Amarone Della Valpolicella, espresso, and grappa drops in espresso. You know the drill. Everyone we came across so far said wine is food in Italy. It was quite apparent that these 2 things are taken very seriously.
Some of us grabbed one last drink at Vini-Liquori before turning in for the night. There was some kind of foreign movie being filmed on the streets and there was quite the crowd. My colleagues and I stood outside with our cocktails reminiscing about the day. It was our last night in Verona, so I headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Cheers to another fabulous evening.