Luca and Massimo Erbice represent the fourth generation of wine growers at Count Giuliari’s villa. It was bought by their grandfather Cesare and great-grandfather Narciso who began work on the winery in 1870. Fast-forward to the present-day and the pretty estate produces high-end wines in the province of Verona – reds labelled Valpolicella (9.5 ha) and the classic white Soave (1.5 ha).
Their vineyards are located in the village of Mezzane di Sotto, at elevations ranging from 250 to 450 metres above sea level. The family’s priority is to farm sustainably, using environmentally-friendly viticultural techniques that favour manual vineyard management.
From left to right: Alberto Erbice, Silvio Erbice, Massimo Erbice and Luca Erbice (Silvio’s sons)
Their approach to wine making is so natural that they refer to it as classic fermentation in stainless steel tanks with ageing in casks made only from French oak. And yet, the winery is home to one of Italy’s greatest red wines – Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG.
Made from the native red varieties Corvina (40%), Corvinone (40%) and Rondinella (20%), the grapes are harvested then spend time in crates in a room where the temperature and humidity are specific to the wine. This unique process, known as Appassimento or raisining, requires healthy grapes and has now been adopted by other Italian regions due to the wines’ marketing success. With a maximum yield of 40%, the wines are extremely concentrated but always elegant with extensive ageability and a complex array of aromatics.
The Erbice family has chosen to press the grapes for Amarone in two stages: at the end of December and in mid-January. They only use new casks for this superlative wine, setting aside casks that have been used two or three times for the Ripasso and Valpolicella Classico Superiore. Ripasso is made from a second fermentation of the pomace from Amarone or Recioto della Valpolicella, the sweet red wine from which Amarone is made. Enthusiasts of this type of wine need patience because the DOC Ripasso is only released in the January two years after the harvest at the earliest, and a year later for the Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG.
An illustration on their Soave depicts a painting in their Villa dating from 1600 by the famous Verona artist Paolo Farinati (1524-1606). The painting portrays the scene from mythology where Mercury kidnaps Paris.
We fell in love with their Valpolicella wines, particularly the Amarone Tremenel (2009, 2010 and 2011) and the Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Superiore (2011, 2012 and 2013), but also the 2013 Valpolicella DOC Superiore and the Soave Superiore ‘Panvinio’.
The wines are sold outside Italy. Europe is the leading market, including Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark), France, Switzerland, Belgium and the UK, but also Japan, China and Russia. Total production stands at 60,000 bottles a year. If you’re in the area, you can taste the wines in neighbouring restaurants and wine bars, and from September, you can order them straight from the producer at La Cave Gilbert & Gaillard.
Here are the tasting notes in Gilbert & Gaillard’s online wine guides :