From the moment we met Stefano Bellamoli we were impressed. It doesn’t hurt when someone sends you a pin and tells you to meet them there, and it looks like this. Stefano’s vines are in the Veneto, located in northeastern Italy and, more specifically, just up the hill from Verona, where Romeo called out to Juliet. Stefano is like your friend who has impeccable taste, is always dialed in with their fashion and music selections, and has a strong point of view on most things. And his point of view on wine makes him such an exciting new producer of Valpolicella. The il Sasso wines are a refreshing take on three levels of Valpolicella. The vines are terraced and sit on a huge Sasso ( Rock in Italian ) of yellow limestone. Certified organic, Stefano is working with the traditional Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella varieties. Using different ratios of each for each wine. He tasted us on the wines in one of the most epically located wine tastings I’ve ever experienced.
The Valpolicella Classico is a real star in the Il Sasso lineup, whereas it’s more of an afterthought for other regional producers. Clocking in at 12% alcohol and bottled in clear glass, the Classico is here to say: "DRINK ME!” This Valpolicella Classico is the way it was made 100 years ago, fresher, picked early from a sunny site, and a refreshing acidity.
Next in the lineup is the Valpolicella Superiore, picked a little later and fermented in cement instead of stainless steel with the Classico. Here is a quote from Stefano himself about the production of the Superiore: “Hand-harvested…coferment of all the varieties…this wine uses the best – perfectly ripened – grapes of the vineyard that ripen later from the terraces with east facing expositions. Partial destemming and whole cluster fermentations. When completely dry, we let the must macerate for a month. No passito is added, as is custom in area, for easy muscle. Soft pressing and aging for at least 12 months in the cement diamonds. No filtration.”
When you are a pioneer and doing things differently like Stefano, it doesn’t always sit well with the powers that be. In this case, the powers that be are the Amarone DOCG. 2019 didn’t get appellated as Amarone, and that is why the wine is named “Aruit” meaning languished in Italian. That in no way means the wine should be looked over; in fact, it makes us like it even more.
The 2020 Il Sasso Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is an Amarone we can get behind. The 2020 is complex and elegant, with a beautiful bouquet. This is a truly special wine.
It was such an honor joining Portovino and our good friend Blake Ritenour from Pinnacle Imports ( one of our local distribution partners ) in Italy this past spring, and we can’t wait to share the wines with you. The Il Sasso labels read “ A wine made in the vineyard, not in the cellar” And that is a great way to encapsulate the Valpolicella terrior- unadulterated with oak and overextraction, just site and grape variety.
Brandon & Trent