Founded in 1902 in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico, Tommasi is one of the standard bearers of the Amarone appellation, and one of the most important quality producers in the Veneto generally. The Tommasi family is the single largest landowner in the Valpolicella Classico area; over the past 110 years, they have steadily expanded their holdings in other areas of the Veneto, and now own a total of 370 acres in the region. As has been the case since the winery’s establishment, the family works only with grapes they grow, an important quality decision and a reflection of their deep connection to the Valpolicella soil.
Tommasi family is certainly one of the most renowned ambassadors in the world of Amarone Classico, "Ripasso method" and Appassimento, the technique of drying the grapes. The Appassimento is a unique and particular method of the Valpolicella classica, which has always characterized the production of wines of this territory. This technique has its roots in a distant past and since Roman times it has been remembered. Over the centuries, this technique of drying the grapes before crushing was completed and today distinguishes the production of the great wines of Valpolicella: Amarone, Recioto and Ripasso Valpolicella in particular. The experience needed to bring at the right point of drying the grapes for Amarone is very high. To get an excellent wine the Appassimento is essential. It is a very critical and delicate phase, also linked to the cycle of seasons.
The grapes perfectly ripe and healthy are selected at the time of the hand picking. The thinnest bunches are choosen, with the berries not too close each other, so that the air can circulate. The grapes are laid out in large perforated plastic boxes, to ensure excellent ventilation. The boxes are stacked in the fruttaio, a large airy room above the cellar and the grapes are periodically monitored so that the Appassimento takes place in a perfect way. Along with modern boxes there are the Arele historical heritage of the Valpolicella, the protagonists of the method of drying the grapes. "Arele" is the dialect term, which indicates the typical hurdles of wood and bamboo, where some of the grapes used to produce Amarone is still dried in the traditional manner. The fruttaio is designed to ensure a constant aeration of the grapes so that the temperature changes gradually, and there are not puddles of moisture.The drying process must proceed very slowly.
The Appassimento lasts three months, but even more, according to the percentage of water contained in the original grapes. It is in fact the water to "evaporate" from the grapes, leaving almost intact sugars. The most obvious visible consequence of this phase, as well as the withering of the berries, is the loss of weight of the bunch, which varies depending on the type of grapes from 30% to 35%.
One of the main characteristics of the indigenous grapes (Corvina, corvinone, swallow, and Oseleta molinara) is the thickness of the peel, which allows for so long and slow drying, preserving the characteristics of the grapes. In January, the grapes are crushed and maceration of the skins is long. Also fermentation at low temperature is very slow, it takes about 40 days for the production of Amarone, 20 approximately for the Recioto, the sweet traditional wine.
The dryed grapes are also used for the technique of "Ripasso". This traditional technique is performed with the re-fermentation of wine on the Amarone grape skins. Tommasi identified with the Ripasso a specific and unique method of making wine, that has got a long and established tradition. The Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone native grapes are hand selected from the best vineyards.
After the fermentation, the wine is placed into steel tanks until the dried grapes fermentation for Amarone is ended and the Amarone wine is left to age in big Slavonian oak casks. Afterwards Valpolicella is "re-passed" - hence the name "Ripasso" - on the Amarone grape skins which are still warm and rich in sugars. A second fermentation takes place and the Ripasso Valpolicella gains the personality of a great wine. The Ripasso method is used in order to obtain a wine that is characterized by a greater structure, a lower acidity and a more rounded and a higher value in extracts suitable for aging in casks for at least 18 months. Ruby red, rich and spicy with notes of black pepper and hints of raisins, it is well bodied, very intense with notes of ripe cherries. Excellent with pasta, white and red meats, cheeses.
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