Friday, 29 April 2011

Wine Review: Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC (2005)

Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC (2005) Review
Price: £20 - £25 per bottle
Availability: Restricted availability in the UK, independent merchants
Opened as part of a small comparative tasting along with the recently reviewed Azienda Agricola Pra Amarone della Valpolicella I wanted to get this review up on the site before we move to our next monthly focus. I never need an excuse to open a bottle of Amarone – it would be fair to say it is my second passion after my (very) understanding and wonderful girlfriend – and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to try so much of one of my favourite wines in one session with my family.

The beauty of comparative tastings of the same style/types of wine is that it really emphasises the subtle differences between producers and their wines. Both very good bottles of Amarone (the Pra was absolutely outstanding) these bottles were nevertheless significantly different to each other and hopefully this review will explain a little about how it is possible to experience two different styles of wine, even if the wines are made from the same grape varieties, in the same way, in the same small area of Northern Italy.

The first thing to note with this Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone is that it is labelled as an Amarone della Valpolicella “Classico”. This means that it is made from grapes grown within the confines of the original Valpolicella area of Veneto in North Eastern Italy. This is important as this “Classico” area is the area where the oldest vineyards are located and where the wine was first made. This means that the vines are subjected to only the traditional climate of this area which should result in the most traditional style of wine and flavours possible. (Over time the Valpolicella area has been expanded massively and some areas outside of the Classico zone see a significantly different climate and thus style of wines than is traditional.)

The original Giuseppe Campagnola winery was founded in 1886 by Carlo Campagnola in Valgatara, near the small town of Marano di Valpolicella right in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone. Since then the main vineyard has been relocated twice, but has always been owned and run by a Campagnola with the main winery now residing Via Agnella (still within Valgatara). The family also runs several other vineyards within the larger Veneto region and co-operates with Azienda Agricola Adami in producing Soave whites. This Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is actually made using grapes from 50 small producers with hillside vineyards within the famed Marano valley.

Not actually listed on the Giuseppe Campagnola website this Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is made from the traditional blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes and is very difficult to get hold of in the UK with the majority of the small quantity of this wine that is produced seemingly being exported to America.

A hefty bottle features raised moulding at the neck and base framing an elegant label.

In the glass this Giuseppe Campagnola is dark (incidentally not as dark as Pra’s offering - more deep cherry red than darker forest gateau) and intense with a clear degradation in colour towards the rim showing this wine’s time in oak and bottle.

The nose is certainly a traditional style. Sour cherries lead with those bitter almonds (nearly always the giveaway for a classically styled Amarone in a blind tasting) coming in strongly at the end of the bouquet. Nowhere near as raisined as the Pra offering, this is a tauter, more upright, strangely (seeing as this is a year older) seemingly more youthful nose. A hint of vanilla shows the oak aging well but there is no whack of cigar boxes – a more subtle experience all round, if not as intense.

In the mouth, those sour cherries lead again with a more tart red fruit feel to the palate with just a touch of acidity that seems slightly unintegrated appearing as it does mid-palate. It ends elegantly, if strongly, with plenty of tannins appearing at the back of your throat around the gums. Traditionally Amarone is to be drunk quite a bit older than this wine and I wonder if I experienced this wine again in 5 years whether it would seem a little less uptight than it is currently.

In all, an excellently presented, traditional style of Amarone. Laying aside the stylistic differences of the Pra this is not as intense and lacks a certain depth of flavour shown in the Pra wine but is nevertheless excellent, accomplished and if approached again in a few years may well become outstanding.

Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC (2005)

Score: 87/100 – Very accomplished, traditional Amarone. Needs time to loosen up.

Value for money: 8/10 – Half the price of many offerings but certainly not half the wine.