It all started in the year 2000. The family Tommasi bought a plot called La Groletta in the famous La Grola vineyard in Valpolicella. They knew immediately that they wanted to make a special wine from the 4.7 acres plot. And this family is patient. It took 18 years before they were ready to launch this very special wine, called De Buris. “We didn’t need another amarone”, says Pierangelo Tommasi, “but we wanted a new luxurious high-end product, and to be fair to the region we wanted it to be an amarone.”
Tommasi is a famous family estate in the Valpolicella region in north-eastern Italy. It was founded in 1902 and now owns wine estates also in Tuscany, Puglia and Basilicata, a region in the south where they make wines from one of my favourite Italian grapes, Aglianico del Vulture. Tommasi is a true family business with seven members of the family involved. One is Pierangelo, executive director, and one is Giancarlo, the winemaker.
De Buris was launched in Veneto, the region of Valpolicella and Amarone, on October 12 and after that Pierangelo has been travelling the world to present the new wine in New York, Milan, Stockholm, Oslo and so on.
“De Buris is not a wine, it is a project that we have been working on for 18 years”, says Pierangelo.
The first eight years was about getting to know the vines and the terroir. La Groletta is a prestigious vineyard in the most western part of Valpolicella, situated with southwestern exposure. It is considered one of the best areas in Valpolicella with long hours of sunlight and gentle breezes coming in from Lake Garda. The vineyard is 300 metres above sea level and the poor soil mainly consists of clay and limestone.
2008 is the vintage now released, the first vintage ever of De Buris. 2008 was a superb year. Giancarlo had acquired enough knowledge of the plot and he was ready to make the wine. Pierangelo admits, though, that at the time he didn’t know that it would take another 10 years before the launch. But, as he says, time is essential. “Time is what De Buris is all about”.
In 2008 the harvest began on the 5th of October. The varieties used for De Buris 2008 were 62% Corvina, 25% Corvinone, 5% Rondinella and 8% of Oseleta. The grape bunches were picked carefully by hand, brought to the estate and placed on bamboo racks to dry. This is the so-called appassimento method. Normally the grapes for an amarone would dry during 100 days. “De Buris has a longer drying, 2 weeks longer”, says Pierangelo. “We lose around 50% of the juice instead of maybe 40-45%. But we gain in concentration of aromas.”
The drying room is humidity controlled but not temperature controlled, so the cooler and drier it is outside the better. The shrivelled grapes were pressed in January and the juice fermented slowly during one month in large Slavonian oak casks with the natural yeast. The wine was aged in big oak barrels of 1500 and 3000 litres for five years. After the bottling, the wine stayed in the stillness of the Tommasi cellar until the launch this year.
And the result? A wine with an alcohol level of 15.65% which is normal for an Amarone, 4 grams per litre of residual sugar (perfect level) and 5,73 gram per litre of total acidity (very good level). More poetically though, this is a full bodied and very well structured wine with smooth tannins, layers of flavours, fresh fruit aromas and an incredibly long finish. “This is our style always”, says Pierangelo, “our wines are never bombs of ripeness, never ever; they are always structured and elegant.”
I like the fact that it is so dry, only 4 grams of residual sugar. Too many amarone wines are much sweeter even though amarone is supposed to be a dry version of the sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
The production of De Buris is of course very limited as the plot is so small. The 2008 vintage produced 5940 bottles and 300 magnums. But Pierangelo has promised a new vintage next year.
The De Buris project started 18 years ago when the family made two investments. They purchased the Groletta plot and they also purchased the Villa De Buris (hence the name of the wine). This is the oldest villa in the region, dating from the 15th century. It will be renovated next year and turned into a Relais & Chateaux Hotel. One more reason to visit this beautiful part of Italy.
De Buris Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2008 is sold for approx. 260 euro.
If you are an amarone fan it is good to know that Tommasi also makes two other amarone wines: Ca’Florian Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva and Amarone della Valpolicella Classico.