Thursday, March 14, 2013

Colaneri Estate Winery – A Visit to Old World Italy in Canada (CA)


If you don’t like Italy, or things Italian, you will not like this story nor these wines. But who doesn’t love the Italians….OK, maybe the French….but after that?! One of the first things that strikes you about Colaneri Estate Winery is how much the building is meant to look like one side of the street in a small Italian village. I saw it in the depths of winter, but one can only imagine what it will look like in summer, and about 10 or so years from now. It’s breathtaking.

More than 60 years ago, back in Frosolone, Italy, a young man, Joseph Colaneri, set his sights on a beautiful woman, Maria. They married in 1951. They were blessed with two sons, Michele (Mike) and Nicola (Nick). In 1967,the new world beckoned, and a fter many years of hard work and perseverance, the family acquired a 40 acre vineyard where Colaneri Estate Winery now stands. Ma and Papa Colaneri took great joy in tending to the vines all year long.

Mike and Nick married sisters, Angiolina (Angie) and Liberina (Betty) and all lived together on the vineyard. Later, with their children, Tara, Michael, Nicholas and Christopher they continued to make wine. Tradition, the driving force of their passion for family, life and all it encompasses. It’s a nice story. I was in the tasting room in Ravine when I was introduced to one of the two brothers, who was at the bakery in the back of Ravine to buy bread! He invited me to the winery and I made sure to stop by.


Today the front of Colaneri, one can only assume, is meant to transport you back to the old world. Indeed, Colaneri is one of the most awe-inspiring wine buildings I have ever seen. But open the door, and peak behind the veneer and one finds a huge, ultramodern winery. Filled with shining stainless steel tanks and towering ceilings, Colaneri is as technologically advanced behind the scenes as it’s front is  supposed to remind you of a different time and place.

There are more than 20 different wines to try at Colaneri, and since I was attempting to visit four or five wineries in the region that day, tasting everyone was not an option. But I had two that were my favorites.



Colaneri 2010 Insieme was among my favorites. This was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Colaneri uses the appassimento technique to make this wine, which is the same technique used to make Amarone…not a surprise I liked this wine! Grapes are harvested ripe and are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats. This process is called appassimento or rasinate (to dry and shrivel) in Italian. This concentrates the remaining sugars and flavors and is similar to the production of French Vin de Paille. The pomace left over from pressing off the Amarone is used in the production of Ripasso Valpolicellas.

Colaneri takes much of its winemaking tradition from the old world in the techniques used to make wine.  I liked this wine before I knew the winemaking techniques behind it. Lots of blackberry, fig, and ripe plum, with hints of cassis, spice and a whiff of cedar as promised. An absolutely beautiful dry red wine!

Colaneri Corposo 2010 You’ll see I am consistent in my tastes here for sure. This wine was made from  Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. It was made in the ripasso wine style. The pomace left over from pressing off the Insieme was used in the production of this Ripasso wine called Corposo.

According to Wikipedia: In the late 20th century, a new style of wine known as ripasso (meaning "repassed") emerged. With this technique, the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of recioto and Amarone are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration. The additional food source for the remaining fermenting yeast helps boost the alcohol level and body of the wines while also leaching additional tannins, glycerine and some phenolic compounds that contribute to a wine's complexity, flavor and color. As the production of Amarone has increased in the 21st century, so too has the prevalence of ripasso style wines appearing in the wine market, with most Amarone producers also producing a ripasso as a type of "second wine". An alternative method is to use partially dried grapes, instead of leftover pomace, which contain less bitter tannins and even more phenolic compounds. The first Valpolicella producer to commercially market a ripasso wine was Masi in the early 1980s.

This wine exploded with bright and dark raspberry, as well as dark cherry, with hints of cocoa and a finish of pepper. What an absolutely beautiful dry red wine! I loved this wine…and you will too!

Colaneri was a tremendous experience.