The Corte Sant’Alda winery is in a valley near the village of Mezzane di Sotto. Away from the blistering summer heat, we sat down with Marinella Camerani, the founder and owner of the winery, and by any measure she is a remarkable woman. Over the years the property has grown from 5 to 19 hectares of vineyards producing around 100,000 bottles of wine per year.
The rambling farmhouse that she moved to was a semi-derelict ruin but it is now both her home and her winery. There you can see the massive French oak tini that are used for fermenting the wines and from there, descending into an old Roman cellar, you will find the oldest of the botti used to mature the wines.
These fermentation vats and barrels used to produce and mature the wine have a story to tell in themselves, The choice of French rather than Slovenian oak for the fermentation vessels and the rich colour of the cherry wood used for some of the barrels speak of a woman who is prepared to experiment and innovate. This is reinforced by the terracotta amphora that she is currently using to ferment her rosé wine. Outside is another example of this restlessness in the shape of the conical cement fermentation vessels she uses to produce her orange wine called Inti. But the heart of this business are the traditional wines of this area.
In the cool of the tasting room we settled down to sampling three of Marinella’s wines. We started with a 2019 Valpolicella called Ca’ Fiui. This is a blend of 40% Corvina, 40% Corvinone and 15% Rondinella, a very traditional blend. After fermentation the wine remains in the big french oak vessels for between six and twelve months to allow it to develop body and structure. The colour is ruby and the perfume is of cherries with a hint of cinnamon and pepper. On the palate it is dry and velvety with cherries and nicely balanced acidity and salinity; pair it with pasta or grilled meat.
Next we tried Campi Magri a Valpolicella Ripasso. This means it has been fermented with the skins left from Amarone before being matured for two years in botti of cherry wood. The result is, as you would expect, more complex with a deep ruby colour and a bouquet with pepper, tobacco and liquorice and in the mouth it is dry with acidity but it also has a tingle on the tongue which is very pleasant; pair it with roast red meats, ragu or a semi-mature cheese.
Finally, we sampled a 2013 Amarone. It was sensational – an intense ruby colour, with a complex bouquet including notes of liquorice, coffee and dark chocolate. The name means the big bitter one and it lived up to its name, exploding in the mouth. Full-bodied and beautifully balanced, this is a great wine.