How do you balance tradition with change? This is a question that family businesses face at some point to remain competitive. Tradition is rooting in the idea of family, of keeping things the “same” year after year. However, in the business world “same” leads to fossilization. So what happens when the family IS the business? This leads us back to the original question, how to balance tradition and change. In the wine world both tradition and change are quite positive. A tradition of good wine making practices, good vineyards, and family all lead to good wine. But technology evolves and change is required to keep up with the times of production and manufacturing. Great family wineries find a way to balance both; and Sartori di Verona is a great family winery!
My first encounter with Sartori wines was the fall of 2014 when I was a guest of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella visiting wineries of Valpolicella, located in the Veneto region of Italy, as part of the beta testing of the Consorzio’s new travel wine app. Our group began our second day of wine tasting and learning at the winery of Sartori, see my article “Valpolicella Day Two,” where we were treated to a wonderful tasting of nine Sartori wines lead by none other than Andrea Sartori himself. It was a wonderful tasting that has stayed with me since that day. Fast forward to August, 2015. I am attending the Texas Sommelier Conference (TEXSOM) in Las Colinas and I see on the schedule a special lunch featuring Sartori di Verona wines. I tell my fellow Texsom friends we must all go to this lunch, Sartori crafts beautiful wines. As I promised the lunch was great, the wines were great and all my fellow wine friends were in love with Sartori. I shared my excitement about the lunch and the wines on social media and my friends at Sartori contacted me immediately with instructions on who to email at Banfi for a selection of Sartori wine samples. A short time later the wonderful people at Banfi sent me 8 Sartori wines! Honesty, integrity, quality wine making, keeping in touch with friends….these are all examples of Sartori’s family tradition.
For over a century the Sartori name has been crafting fine wine in Valpolicella. It is a name synonymous with traditional values, innovation, dedication to quality, and a boundless passion for quality winemaking. The family’s story began in 1898, when Pietro Sartori, Andrea’s great-grandfather, bought a small vineyard with a cellar attached in the heart of Valpolicella called Villa Maria to produce wine for his hotel. Years later Pietro’s son, Regolo, built the winery into the family’s core business. By the 1950’s Regolo’s two sons brought the Sartori name to international status, exporting Sartori wines all over the world. Today Andrea runs the Sartori family wine business. He has taken steps to continue the reputation of Sartori’s family tradition with some modern changes. In 2002, Sartori joined with Cantina Colognola, allowing the family access to 6200 acres of high quality grapes in the Soave and Valpolicella zones. In 2003, Sartori hired renowned Franco Bernabei as consulting winemaker. Since then he has been quietly practicing his “virtuoso brand of winemaking artistry” at Sartori. In 2006, Sartori introduced a new premium collection of Veneto wines crafted by Bernabei in their new winery, I Saltari, in the Mezzane Valley of Verona. As the Sartori family winery continues to grow and change they explain a very important fact:
A constant theme over the last century has been the Sartori family’s bond with their land: it is a heritage that has evolved and is reflected in their new interpretations of the great classical Veronese wines, as well as in their innovative expressions of traditional varietals.
The Sartori wines I sampled will take you through all of 2016, spring through winter. They were excellent, high quality wines that pair great with food or just for meditation. Here are my tasting notes:
2014 Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT: 100% Pinot Grigio; light gold with a soft green hue; green apples and pears, lime zest, soft grassy notes with a touch of toasted cedar; surprisingly lively on the palate with layers of flavors, a creamy texture, a touch of sweetness passes across midpalate than disappears; more flavors and texture than a typical Pinot Grigio; well-balanced acidity with a lingeringly dry finish; a really nice wine that will be perfect for spring/summer sipping as an aperitif as well as with salad, soups, vegetable fritattas and omelets.
2013 Ferdi Bianco Veronese IGT: 100% Garganega; soft gold; a fresh basket of grapefruit, apricots, peaches and fresh cut white flowers cascade from the glass; bright acidity and mineral notes drench the palate with dense texture; medium body, mouth watering, lingering dry finish; lovely wine that has more complexity from your average white wine; a great wine for spring/summer sipping, poultry, seafood, and great with burgers on the grill; furthermore try this perfect food pairing from Sartori “Chicken Milanese, Southern Style.”
2014 Bardolino Chiaretto DOC: 40% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, 10% Merlot, 10% Corvinone, 10% Molinara; soft salmon due to 24 hour skin contact; delicate aromas of strawberries, white peaches, citrus zest; tart and tangy with round acidity; mouthwateringly good with bright flavors, light body, zesty on the palate with a pleasing finish; a versatile wine that be a delicious aperitif as well as cheese, salads, seafood, poultry, and pork dishes from spring through fall and a great addition to your Thanksgiving table.
2011 Pinot Noir Delle Venezie IGT: 100% Pinot Noir; soft ruby; delicate Pinot Noir with fruit driven aromas of cherries, black rapsberries, black berries, followed by spice notes, touch of cherry cola, mushrooms and savory herbal notes; an elegant wine with fresh flavors and well-structured acidity that is balanced beautifully with delicate tannins; its a lively medium body wine with a fresh taste and clean finish. Another wine for year round enjoyment on its own or to pair with charcuterie, pork, braised rabbit, and cornish game hens.
2012 Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC: 45% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina; garnet; aromas quintessentially Valpolicella, cherry, licorice and spice notes on foundation of earthiness; light and fruity with round acidity and slightly pronounced tannins; elegant and lively; medium body, clean finish; a lovely wine for sipping year round, great if you want a red wine in the summer heat, or to pair with Sartori’s recommendation of “Mussel Soup with Curry.”
2011 Regolo Rosso Veronese IGT: 100% Corvina; soft garnet; soft aromas of cherries, raspberries, plums and pomegranates with a touch of red licorice, spice notes, white pepper, dried violets and a touch of savory herbal notes; elegant on palate with soft texture and velvet mouth-feel; complex, round acidity with well integrated tannins create a pleasingly long finish; this is one of my favorite wines!; a great food wine to pair with many dishes on a cool night in spring, fall or wintr, for a unique pairing try Sartori’s choice of “Biscuits with Sicilian Style Sausage Gravy”
2011 Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG: 50% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; beautiful garnet with violet hues; aaaahhhh amarone; dried cherries, licorice, spice notes, raisins, rich notes of dark chocolate; rich and elegant on the palate, luxurious and complex with layers of flavors and textures that dazzle and delight; round acidity with persistent yet not overpowering tannins; full body, lush and long on the finish; a wine crafted for robust cuisine of fall and winter including bolognese, lamb stew, osco bucco, grilled steaks, bison burgers.
2008 Corte Bra Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC: 50% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, 5% Oseleta; penetrating garnet; a touch of baked cherry crisp aroma with ripe cherries, baked red fruit, baking spice with cinnamon and an essence of toasted cedar; texture of crushed velvet with round acidity and integrated tannins that create a rich mouth-feel, leaving a slightly dusty finish that I love; another dazzling food wine for fall and winter to pair with same dishes as the 2011 DOCG Amarone.
What I experience in Sartori wines is: a true sense of time of place; the idea of the Italian art of living; centuries of family tradition balanced seamlessly with necessary change to craft consistency from vineyard to aroma to palate. Truly a family winery that crafts wine to please you and your friends year round! Sartori wines are well distributed within the US and Europe so seek them out online or from your favorite local wine retailer.
My Song Selection: Italian wines throw me sometimes with my song pairings. They are classical wines, rustic yet refined, intentional yet improvisational, a great sense of time and place, and masterful works of art. I rarely use rock n roll to pair with Italian wines. I always tastes more of a big band, classical or jazz feel in the wines. Jazz is so diverse it can really be used in anything. Some wines simply rock but Italian wines….they need a song with more flair. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do. It is 7 minutes long but it takes all 7 minutes to express each of these Sartori wines.
Get your own bottles of Sartori wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!