This Christmas, we're going to be shining a little spotlight on wines that we love from independent producers that are worth celebrating. These wines just hit all the right notes for us, and we strongly recommend you give them a try this winter.
This week we have a very special wine from the excellent Ilatium Morini in Veneto, Italy.
In 1992 the Morini family bought an historical farmhouse in the heart of Val di Mezzane that dated back to the early 1900's. The origins or their village date back to the ancient Romans who, when passing through the area in the search for remote lands to conquer, found an ideal environment for the cultivation of grapes, olives and fruit trees. The locals were quick to call them the Latii, "those from Lazio", qualifying them as "strangers", foreigners. The name Ilatium reminds them that their roots are ancient and noble.
Indeed, the appeal of the farmhouse was not just historical, as it was surrounded by splendid vineyards. In this peaceful area the family initially sold their fruit to the local Cantina Sociale (coopertive wine cellar,) but in 2004 the seven brothers and cousins involved with Ilatium Morini changed their approach and decided to keep the best grapes to make wine themselves. To do so they built a state-of-the-art winery and maturation cellar.
The entire lower floor, situated 6 meters underground, is dedicated to the letting the wine mature and sit. The 600 oak barrels from various countries, cradle and accompany this splendid nectar to full maturity.
Today the winery cultivates 40 hectares with plots spread across Valpolicella and Soave and they find themselves at the forefront of a new wave of producers in Veneto, picking up many awards for their wines.
We have a very special parcel of Amarone from Ilatium Morini that really showcases their style and quality.
This fabulous wine combines beautiful fruit concentration with fresh, bright acidity. Oh boy is it big. In flavour and and in alcohol. To make it they use a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and a little Croatina. They hand harvest the best fruit at peak ripeness and then it is air dried for 100 to 120 days in small baskets. After pressing this concentrated sweet juice, it is fermented and then tucked away in a mix of French and American oak barrels for 30 months followed by 8 to 10 months in bottle.
This creates intense and ample aromas of ripe black fruit and sour cherries joining herby and earthy notes and vanilla on the nose. The palate is equally big. There's an exquisite, velvety texture and really rich and pruney, raisined fruit layered with fresh red cherry and violet with more vanillin oak. It is so intense but with lovely balance and richness. Give this an hour in a decanter to open up and you'll be rewarded.
"Amarone is such a big and decadent wine style that whenever you open a bottle it feels like a special occasion. This one from Ilatium is just divine. I'd savour this with slow cooked Lamb shank in a rich red wine sauce."