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Winery #66: Accordini Stefano (Valpolicella, Italy)

Heading further west in our Northeastern Italian Wine tour, we reached the winery Accordini Stefano in the region of Valpolicella (pronounced Val pol ee CHEL lah), a place famous for making highly concentrated and higher alcohol wines using the appassimento method. Appassimento is the process of drying grapes after harvest for three to four months in well-ventilated lofts. The grapes are placed in special trays with many openings to provide the maximum amount of airflow to dry the grapes. The goal of this drying method is to concentrate the flavors and sugars in the grapes without promoting rot or mold. And so, winemakers place special attention on the loft's humidity level and temperature to maintain the optimal environment for this drying process to occur. Over the course of the three to four months, the grapes shrink to about one third of their original weight due to the loss of water. One really interesting fact for wine nerds is that during the drying process, a chemical change occurs creating increased glycerol in the grapes that results in a softer and fuller mouthfeel in the final wine.

Our wine experience at Accordini Stefano consisted of a private, formal wine tasting in the winery’s covered courtyard. Italy's late spring temperatures reached over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), so we were extremely happy to have the shade! Our host led us through the tasting of six wines, accompanying each wine with an overview of the wine and its unique production process, including the aforementioned appassimento method. During the experience, our host presented us with a delicious meat and cheese platter to accompany the wines along with breadsticks.

From the six wines tasted in our Accordini Stefano experience, our favorite was the 2012 Passito Amandorlato. This wine is a new and very unique product recently released by the winery that is only produced in the best years like 2012. The grapes undergo the extensive drying process prior to fermentation concentrating the aromas, flavors, acidity, sugars, and color of the grapes. During the fermentation process, the winemaker intentionally keeps the temperature low to extract fine flavors from the grape skins as well as preventing the yeast from completely turning all the sugar into alcohol, resulting in a sweet wine. Rather than traditional ageing in oak barrels, this wine spends an extremely long six years in cherry wood barrels that results in a bitterness in the wine from this type of barrel that is offset by the wine’s sweetness. The wine’s color showed the evidence of its age with a medium garnet coloration, and the aromas consisted of dried plums, dried figs, raisins, dark cherry, and some earthy and mushroom characteristics. The medium sweet wine showed great balance being offset by the high acidity and higher tannin levels. Our host recommended this wine to be consumed at the end of a meal, or at the end of a wine tasting, pairing well with chocolate which she graciously provided us.

Experience Rating: 2 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 2 Paws Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Seated Wine Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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