Fattori, Amarone della Valpolicella “Col de la Bastia”
Fattori, Amarone della Valpolicella “Col de la Bastia”

Fattori, Amarone della Valpolicella “Col de la Bastia”

Veneto, Italy 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$55.00
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Fattori, Amarone della Valpolicella “Col de la Bastia”

Comedians use the term “closer” to describe their biggest, best joke—the one they save for the end of a set. In baseball, the closer is the dominant, flame-throwing pitcher called late in the game to seal a win. In wine, certain styles are well-suited to the closer role, but Amarone della Valpolicella may be the best-equipped of all. This profound and exceptionally luscious Italian red is the one you pour late in a meal, when you really want to bring down the house, and today’s 2018 from Fattori will serve you extremely well in that regard.

But there’s more to it than that: “Col de la Bastia” offers real elegance and balance, too, something that’s proved increasingly difficult to achieve with Amarone wines. It’s one thing for a wine to be a showstopper, it’s another to be so bruisingly big, sweet, and alcohol-heavy that it doesn’t so much “close” the show as grind it to a screeching halt. “Col de la Bastia” carries its power gracefully, which is a critical prerequisite for us when choosing an Amarone to offer here. We typically only feature one per year, and while it may sound cavalier, the main question is: Would I want a second glass of this? With Fattori’s ’18, the answer was a resounding yes!

This is an estate whose original vineyards were in Soave, Valpolicella’s neighbor to the east. They were planted by Antonio Fattori in the early 1900s and, many years later, taken over by his grandson, also named Antonio, in 1970. Antonio II remains at the helm of the estate today, which now includes a 12-hectare property called “Col de la Bastia” at the eastern end of the Valpolicella appellation. Overlooking Valpolicella’s Illasi Valley (an area made famous by cult-favorite Dal Forno Romano), the vineyards at Col de la Bastia climb to altitudes of 450 meters and are rooted in soils of clay, sandstone, limestone and some volcanic basalt, the latter more common in neighboring Soave. The Fattoris do not use any synthetic pesticides or fungicides and are in the process of full organic conversion in their vineyards, another feather in the cap of an estate which flies somewhat under the radar (a fact which may explain the relatively modest price for this single-vineyard bottling).

If $55 doesn’t qualify as good value for you, remember that Amarone is an expensive category of wine by nature: to make it, producers dry their grapes for several months after harvest to concentrate their sugars and produce a richer wine. This drying process, called appassimento, can stretch into the February after the harvest, with the grapes losing as much as 40% of their total weight (much of it water) in the process. The economics of Amarone are straightforward: it’s a more labor-intensive wine, and there’s less of it, so it costs more.

The raisined grapes used to make Amarone are the same local varieties used to make Valpolicella: mostly Corvina (the dominant component of any blend, ranging from 45%-95%), with smaller percentages of Rondinella, Molinara (now fading from use), and other varieties both local and international. Producers in Valpolicella have engaged in a “traditional versus modern” debate much like the one in Barolo, with most of the discussion centered on the wood vessels in which the wines are aged: In one camp are “traditional” producers who prefer larger, older wood vessels, which typically create a lighter-colored, more oxidative style of wine; the more “modern” vintners prefer the extra polish and deeper color imparted by newer, smaller (and often French) barrels. Regardless, what you get in Amarone is one of the most deeply extracted red wines on the planet: as the grapes wither during the drying process, they are mostly losing water, resulting in juice that is extra-concentrated. 

But here’s the most interesting thing about Amarone: appassimento creates a dramatic increase in sugar without a corresponding decrease in acidity. Some people perceive Amarone to be “sweet,” but in fact, the maximum amount of residual sugar allowed ranges from 12-16 grams/liter, depending on the final alcohol content. This is not, in any technical sense, a sweet wine. The name “Amarone,” in fact, is derived from the Italian word amaro (“bitter”), as the style originated when a barrel of the original sweet wine of Valpolicella, known as recioto, fermented to dryness on its own.

What you’re tasting when you taste an Amarone is not an excess of residual sugar (this wine contains just over 6 grams/liter, making it quite dry by definition) but an abundance of fruit extract. There’s a glycerol richness that coats the palate and masks some of the tannins, lending it drinkability in its youth. In the glass, it’s an opaque purple/ruby with magenta highlights at the rim, with heady aromas of black plum, blueberry compote, Chambord liqueur, resin, leather, baking spices, and chocolate. There’s a palpable viscosity on the full-bodied palate, nicely balanced by acidity and firm tannins. Whereas many modern Amarones skew almost Port-like in their intensity (despite not being fortified), this one stops well short of that; for me it falls in the all-important “main course-worthy” category, provided it’s a main course of adequate richness. Decant this wine a good 30 minutes before serving in large Bordeaux stems at a cool temperature (55-60 degrees). It’s a wine that needs something along the lines of braised short ribs to tame it, and ultimately, the best day to open it is probably a cold one this winter. This will warm you right up, without weighing you down. Enjoy!

Fattori, Amarone della Valpolicella “Col de la Bastia”


Northwestern Italy


Italy’s Piedmont region is really a wine “nation”unto itself, producing world-class renditions of every type of wine imaginable: red, white, sparkling, sweet...you name it! However, many wine lovers fixate on the region’s most famous appellations—Barolo and Barbaresco—and the inimitable native red that powers these wines:Nebbiolo.



The area known as “Chianti” covers a major chunk of Central Tuscany, from Pisa to Florence to Siena to Arezzo—and beyond. Any wine with “Chianti” in its name is going to contain somewhere between 70% to 100% Sangiovese, and there are eight geographically specific sub-regions under the broader Chianti umbrella.

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