Michela had uncorked four bottles of wine, all produced by Bertani at this very winery: a Valpolicella Classico, a Valpolicella Ripasso, an Amarone della Valpolicella, and a Ricioto della Valpolicella Valpentana. And a bottle of Bertani olive oil. Michela took us through the tasting of the wines, starting with the Valpolicella Classico, then the Ripasso, and then the Amarone.
The first wines were most enjoyable. Then, we tried the Amarone. Whoa - what a superb wine! I found it noticeably superior to the other wines -- fantastically smooth. I won't prented to describe the particular tastes that one often sees in descriptions of a wine's flavour. I'm not an expert and I can't specifically remember, in any case. All I know for sure was that that wine struck me as particularly wonderful and a definite cut above the others.
We had the dessert wine (the Recioto) with some curious corn-flake-ish like cookies that Michela had chosen to accompany it. Not bad - I'm not a big drinker of dessert wines, but I could see how this wined paired with a sweet dessert would work.
Starting the tasting
During the tasting, we asked questions about the rules surrounding wine production, details about the ways in which the wine tours are typically run (she told us that early morning wine tours are rare - we were apparently the first group in five years to request an 8:30am wine tour!). We asked her about herself and how she came to be the hospitality directory at Bertani. She has a university degree in tourism and is also a wine enthusiast, and therefore this job offered her the perfect intersection of the two worlds.
Ending the tasting
Michela encouraged us to drink as much as we wanted from each bottle and to finish off the appetizers in front of us. This was quite generous, as the bottle of Amarone alone was worth up to 130 dollars in North America (I checked). I myself had to hold back with the tasting, as later on I would be the one driving the car. Everyone else, therefore, had many more samples than I did!
Happy after the tasting
After the wonderful wine tasting, our tour was complete. The winery has a small wine shop, where (after having thoroughly enjoyed our sampling of the various wines) we decided to purchase several bottles (including several of that vintage of Amarone, which were being sold for a decent 58 euros per bottle). We then thanked Michela for her time, and spent some time re-arranging the luggage in the car to accommodate all of the bottles of wine we just bought!
A tough packing job
[Update, September 2013] Although the report you just read about Villa Novare accurately described it as we toured it in 2010, you should know that as of 2013, the estate has been bought entirely by Gaetano Bertani, and is now a separate concern from Bertani Wines. It is now called the Villa Mosconi Bertani. If you are interested in wine tastings and/or touring the villa from this point on, please go to the Villa Mosconi Bertani (english version) website.
Interactive Trackmap, tour of Villa Novare
The time was now roughly noon (So much writing and I'm only halfway done our day!). The order of business for the second half of the day was a complete change from the elegant world of wine tasting: we had pencilled-in a climb to a rifugio in the nearby southern foothills of the dolomites, with a via ferrata to tackle enroute! I had already called the rifugio in advance and reserved spots for the five of us.