February 2023

Matt’s review:

2018 Villa San Carlo Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG (barrel) – When tasted during the Anteprima tasting, it showed wonderfully. Very fresh, impressive complexity with spices, menthol, prunes, herbal, balsamic and dried cherry notes. Youthful fine-grained tannins, the palate shows refreshing bright cherry and dried fruits, some citrus and dark chocolate notes persisting too. An impressive preview of a wine that will be hitting markets in the near future, and one that will be enjoyed in the short, medium, and long term. Enjoy 2024-2035+. 93 points.

A bit of background about Villa San Carlo and their talented up-and-coming winemaker, Marco Signorini, who’s focused on producing expressive terroir wines across their portfolio. From their 20 hectare estate vineyards which are divided into roughly 40 sub plots, each with distinctive features, winemaker Marco leverages those differences to craft very expressive terroir-focused wines which when tasted side by side are striking. Although the focus of this article is on the 2018 vintage, I also tasted barrel samples offering very early and informative sneak peeks of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 (a perfect vintage btw) vintages, from specific plots including the Prima Vigna and the Vigna La Grotta vineyards where the Riserva Amarone is sourced. Those Riserva Amarone barrel samples (in their infancy), were showing incredibly well, and very different between the vintages and vineyards, which is always interesting to see how terroir and vintage show up in the glass. All three vintages were showing signs of greatness with early indicators for me of mid-90 ratings (93-95+ points) based on the harmonious balance, integration, and complexity of flavours and aromas. The La Villa vineyards which include a handful of plots across the estate are where their non-Riserva Amarone is sourced, and when tasting the 2019, 2020, and 2021 barrel samples they too showed great complexity, elegance, and potential across the board. Keep this winery in mind when looking for expressive and elegant Amarone, Valpolicella Superiore, and their unique Metronis Late Harvest (bone dry) 100% Garganega wine that winemaker uses frozen grapes (20%) to make such a truly unique and complex wine, with delicious honeyed orchard fruits, floral, savoury, lanolin, and nutty characteristics. Worth seeking out and trying to get some of the 2000 bottles produced in 2021 and 2500 in 2022.

Bonus review: Villa San Carlo Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella 2016 – Ruby red with a garnet hue, very expressive with some evolution on the nose. Dark fruits, dark chocolate, a hint of soy and balsamic showing in the bouquet. The palate is beautifully balanced, softly textured, with great complexity of flavours, some evolution presenting with hints of rustic elements but with exceptional freshness. An absolutely gorgeous expression of premium Amarone that’s showing wonderfully now and will over the next two+ decades. 95 points.

One of many must-see wineries throughout Valpolicella. A trip up to Villa San Carlo’s villa offers beautiful views of their vineyards, olive groves, and the Valpolicella region. You can also check out the original paintings in the villa, which the Riserva Amarone label showcases, painted in 1823, 200 years ago this year.