Casa Vinicola Bertani was established in 1857 by brothers Gaetano and Giovan Battista Bertani, initially as negociants and then as winemakers. The winery has been at the forefront of agriculture and winemaking in the region ever since, developing a dry style of wine when everyone else was producing sweet wines as early as 1870. In addition, while the precise origins of Amarone are a bit murky, the Bertani’s are credited with creating the modern incarnation of Amarone della Valpolicella wine we know and love today, back in 1958.
As a small producer, Bertani strives to maintain its traditional style, eschewing fads and passing fancy. In this regard, although the Bertani brothers had originally planted the majority of their vineyards to the less fashionable Corvina, the firm never wavered in this decision despite Rondinella’s greater popularity; a decision that has served them well as Corvina is now recognized as being superior to Rondinella.
Moreover, they are returning to their own roots, releasing Secco-Bertani Original Vintage Edition 2010, complete with vintage packaging. As a faithful reproduction of this wine, it follows the initial recipe of 80% Corvina, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Syrah and has been aged for 12 months in traditional cherry or chestnut wood casks.
However, this commitment to tradition has not kept them from employing new technology to do so. In fact, Technical Director Andrea Lonardi stresses the need to conduct significant research to maintain this style, especially in the context of climate change. Consequently, in an effort to stay the same, they must do things completely differently. For example, they have changed their canopy management techniques to reduce the amount of light that hits the grapes in an effort to keep sugar (and consequently, resulting alcohol) levels lower.
Lonardi himself is relatively new to Bertani as well, having joined the firm in 2012. Although he grew up in Valpolicella, Lonardi spent many years at a large winemaking firm outside the region. However, upon visiting Bertani for the first time, he was immediately struck with the same sense of connection and awe he had felt when being at Chateau d’Yquem and Romanée-Conti.
With new talent and techniques being employed in pursuit of a traditional wine, Bertani seeks to maintain the same quality and style that was evident in a recent vertical tasting of its Amarone. Tasting select vintages of the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico from 1964 to 2006, the elegance, complexity ageability of these wines clearly rang through each glass.
Good news for wine lovers in the States, our numbers are growing and we are getting more adventurous.
As the economy continued to stabilize in 2012, wine consumption increased for the 19th straight year. Overturned blue laws, relaxed restrictions on direct shipments, and customers trading up to more premium-priced wines all led to the industry’s success last year. According to The Beverage Information Group’s recently released 2013 Wine Handbook, the wine industry grew 1.9% last year to reach 318.0 million 9-liter cases.
Consumers’ interest in sweet wines, un-oaked chardonnays and red blends helped spur the Table Wine category to increase 1.8% to reach 292.4 million 9-liter cases. Domestics grew 2.0% and imported table wine increased 1.5%. The Champagne and Sparkling Wine category also posted positive results.
The off-premise saw a 2.2% increase in cases and a 4.5% increase in dollars, but on-premise wine sales began to slow toward the last half of 2012 due to economic uncertainty. Total wine dollar sales grew to $28.9 billion last year with off-premise accounting for 56.4%, while on-premise accounted for only 43.6%.
While the on-premise had its struggles, direct-to-consumer wine shipments saw success, contributing $1.4 billion to the industry. Direct shipping data is now detailed in the 2013 Wine Handbook, including data by volume, region, price category and varietal.
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Mission Hill Family Estate Stuns the Wine World by Winning ‘World’s Best Pinot Noir’ at Decanter World Wine Awards
Mission Hill Family Estate took on the best in the world and won top honours as ‘World’s Best Pinot Noir’ in the under £15 category at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London, England.
More than 14,000 wines from 61 regions around the world were entered in the competition in 2013. Mission Hill 2011 Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir won a coveted International Trophy – the competition’s top award, the first time a single wine variety (red or white) from any region in the world has won both a Regional Trophy for ‘Best Wine’ and anInternational Trophy for ‘World’s Best Wine’ at the Decanter Awards.
The Decanter Trophy was presented at a black-tie affair in front of 1,000 wine luminaries at the Royal Opera House inLondon by the legendary Steven Spurrier, Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards. Ironically, his 1976 Paris Wine Tasting (as portrayed in the award-wining movie Bottle Shock which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival), put Napa and California on the world wine map for the first time when they won out against legendary French wines. Now he has done the same for the Okanagan Valley with Pinot Noir, considered to be one of the most difficult wines to make from what is called “the heartbreak grape“.
“This is a ground-breaking achievement for Mission Hill,” said Steven Spurrier. “To receive an award at this level is quite an achievement and an important recognition for the quality of Pinot Noir produced in British Colombia’sOkanagan Valley.”
“I was totally shocked when I learned that our Pinot Noir was named best in the world,” said Mission Hill’s Proprietor Anthony von Mandl, O.B.C. “I am still in awe that a wine from the still emerging Okanagan Valley could win against the best Pinot Noir in the world from Burgundy, Sonoma Country, Oregon, and New Zealand. This is a seminal moment for the entire Canadian wine industry!”
In 1994 Mission Hill Family Estate put the Okanagan Valley on the map by winning the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for ‘Best Chardonnay in the World’ and at the time the Master of Wine Judges were in such disbelief they re-tasted all of the wines and Mission Hill won a second time.
“I never could have imagined that lightning would strike twice,” continued von Mandl. “This is an incredibly proud moment for my family and the realization of my life-long dream to produce wines of exceptional quality right here in the Okanagan Valley that could stand alongside the best in the world.”
Rick Bonitati the recently appointed President of Winery & Vineyard Estates for Mission Hill Family Estate accepted the Trophy at the Royal Opera House in London on behalf of the von Mandl Family. Bonitati joined the von Mandl Family from Jackson Family Wines in California where he was responsible for several ultra-premium wineries, including La Crema, Cambria, Arrowood, and Kendall-Jackson.
“This is a defining moment for Mission Hill Family Estate and the entire Okanagan Valley,” stated Bonitati. “Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir was the first wine I tasted when I came to the region. I was totally impressed at the calibre of Pinot Noir produced at Mission Hill Family Estate and this was instrumental in my decision to join the von Mandl Family in their quest to produce wines of distinct character and unprecedented quality.”
Commenting on accepting the ‘World’s Best Pinot Noir’ trophy in London, Bonitati added, “I was completely overwhelmed with congratulations from many of the wine luminaries in attendance that had no idea Canada was producing top quality Pinot Noir. This international recognition and the recent WineAlign ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ award have made for a phenomenal beginning to my time with the von Mandl Family. This is only the start!”
The Decanter World Wine Awards are judged by 219 individuals from 27 countries, including 75 Masters of Wine and 13 Master Sommeliers. The Decanter Trophy follows Mission Hill’s recent ‘Canadian Winery of the Year‘ win at the2013 WineAlign National Wine Awards. A complete listing of all recent awards can be found at missionhillwinery.com
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