Appassimento – tradition and technique of sweet Italian wines
In a previous article we took you on a discovery of a wine inextricably linked to the territory of Prosecco.
Here we want to offer you something equally interesting and curious… A territory is composed not only of soil and climate but also of a philosophies and oenological practices implemented by the people who live an appellation.
Appassimento is one of these.
What is Appassimento? A technique – and for some a true historical tradition – by which harvested bunches of grapes are put to drying and to dry out the water inside in order to make a very sweet wine from them, months later.
A practice that is far from obvious and much more difficult to achieve.
It is essential, in fact, to select only the healthiest and perfectly ripe grapes, a factor that implies a strictly manual harvest. The most sparse bunches are chosen, in order to allow air to circulate between berries and avoid stagnant humidity.
The Appassimento technique therefore requires dedication and commitment from the beginning till the end of the process, because the grapes will have lost 30 to 50 percent of their weight, which means less wine. But this results in increased quality, sweetness and quantity of aromas.
The earliest documented evidence of this technique in northern Italy dates from between 400 and 500 AD, but the practice is believed to date back several centuries earlier.
The historical connection and artisanal character preserved by hundreds of winemakers in the Valpolicella area (province of Verona and territory of the famous Amarone) led the protection consortium to request that the practice be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage.
If the request will be granted, it would be the first wine-making technique to be recognized and protected.
But the technique is not only practiced in the north of the country. And even if it may seem easy to dehydrate grapes, we should not forget how coarse the resulting wine might be.
The difficulty, besides preserving the drying grapes from fungal attacks, lies in preserving optimal acidity levels.
This is what Baron Montalto succeeds in doing with his Ammasso and what Ricossa do as well with its Appassimento. This is the reason why Brand Italy is happy to propose you this two interpretation.
Two different wines coming from the opposite side of Italy but realized with almost the same technique.
Ammasso is a red wine partialy produced with raisining based on Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The contributor of the raising process do not make the wine heavier at all but allow it to express all the concentration of the wild red fruits and spicies, proposing a lovely balance between sweetness and acidity. Grapes from which Appassimento by Ricossa are taken are handpicked and laid in small cases of 5 kg for about 5-6 weeks in a dry, temperature controlled room with fans used for ventilation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 26-30°C for about 2 weeks.
The bouquet is rich with homemade blackberry jam, violet, vanilla, fig, and almonds. In its youthful phase the palate is full-bodied while fresh and elegant. Over time it becomes rounder and more complex while maintaining a unique softness.