One of the best wines I have had the pleasure of drinking late last year were from the Nicolis Winery in Valpolicella, in the Verona province, Italy. The Nicolis wine dinner at Chambers Bar & Grill at Hilton, Kuala Lumpur, presented three red wines — the Nicolis Vapolicella Classico DOC 2016, “Seccal” Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso DOC 2015, and the star of the evening, Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011
For hundreds of years Valpolicella (the valley of many cellars) has been known as an eminent wine production region. The Nicolis vineyard, covering 42 hectares in San Pietro in Valpolicella, is family owned.
Valpolicella Classico wine is produced from the vineyards in the lower hills and Amarone and Reciota from the vineyards in the hillside terraces. Sustainable farming is practised and the harvest is done manually, preserving the unique and incomparable quality of the wines.
The recent Nicolis wine dinner at Chambers Bar & Grill, Hilton Kuala Lumpur, presented the Nicolis Valpolicella Classico DOC 2016, “Seccal” Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso DOC 2015, and the star of the evening – Amarone Della Valpolicell Classico DOCG 2011.
Owner and winemaker Guiseppe Nicolis spoke about how he and his brother are involved in very natural viticulture. “It’s environmental friendly, with sulphides close to zero and we grow quality grapes.” These are mainly Corvino grapes native to the region.
“The Valpolicella Classico DOC 2016 is fruity, fresh and fragrant, with cherries on the nose. It’s wine you can have every day with cold cuts and salami. It’s also very good with pork, duck and goose.” Nicolis declared that “it’s perfect with tuna”, referring to the Cold Smoked Tuna Loin, Broad Bean and Pea Salad, Poached Quail egg, Squid Ink Tulip and Dressed Cress that the wine had been poured for. This medium-bodied wine with soft tannins has a good balance of fruit and acidity.
The “Seccal” Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso DOC 2015 is the wine produced on second fermentation on the Amarone grape skins and aged for 16 months in big Slavonian oak barrels. It is then left to age for at least six months in the bottle. It delivers ripe plum and sweet spice on the nose. It’s full-bodied and complex, with a long finish.The wine was paired with the Pink Roasted Duck Breast, cauliflower puree, braised shallot, glazed carrot, asparagus and black cherry jus.
There was much anticipation about the Amarone, dubbed the jewel of Italy. It is made with hand-picked grapes dried in a special drying room in the cellar for four months. When the dried grapes are pressed, the sweet juice is left to age in big Slavonian oak barrels for 30 months, producing a full-bodied concentrated red wine. It’s left to age at least eight months in the bottle.
Usually 1kg of fresh grapes makes one bottle of wine but the Amarone needs four or five times this amount of grapes to do this. They have to be perfect grapes with perfect skins. Amarone means”big bitter”. It was supposed to be dessert wine but accidentally became a dry wine. The Nicolis wine estate does not make Amarone every year.
The Nicolis Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011 was dry, lightly sweet with a lingering slight bitterness at first sip. Elegance and complexity showed through this wine, which had a nose of ripe fruit, spice, cocoa and walnut. It was very, very good! “It’s one of the best known premium wines,” said Nicolis.
We had this excellent red wine with the Grilled Black Angus Sirloin, dauphinoise potato, sautéed green beans, confit tomato, red wine jus. Dessert was Baked Fig Tart with red wine reduction, blue cheese ice cream, which was still good with the Amarone.