I recently read an article on next year trends according to Majestic, the wine retailer, and whilst six out of seven were 2019 trends expected to consolidate, the seventh was “appassimento”, which according to them, is the next big wine trend with the style taking drinkers away from Malbech.
What is “appassimento”. “Appassimento” is a style of wine obtained by drying the grapes for any period after the harvesting to increase their sugar content, sugar content that once fermented becomes alcohol, hence “appassimento” wines tend to have higher alcohol content, with the unfermented sugar called “residual sugar”. All wines have some residual sugar and in the case of “appassimento” style wines, this residual sugar tend to be higher due to the fact that if the wine maker was to transform all sugar in the grapes, the alcohol content of the wine will be too high and therefore impossible to drink and sell.
I have seen more and more producers making “appassimento” wines, and it is already a trend, however, I am not a big fan of this style wines for two main reasons. First, I have tasted hundreds of them, and the vast majority were not good due to their, unbalanced residual sugar. Almost the totality of “appassimento” wines I tasted were overly sweet, syrupy, lacking freshness, liquid marmalades, wines lacking the acidity and structure that an “appassimento” wine requires to be drinkable, and a tired nose.
Secondly, “appassimento” is nothing new, wine makers producing “appassimento” style wines follow the wine making process used for the Amarone della Valpolicella
and the lesser known Sforzato della Valtellina
, where several grapes in the first and only Nebbiolo in the second, are left to dry after the harvesting.
If “appassimento” has a purpose for the Amarone della Valpolicella or the Sforzato della Valtellina, it allows the grapes to reach the sugar content needed to produce them, in all others, it rarely has any. The same wine making process is also followed when making “passiti”, also known as dessert or meditation wines, where not all sugar is fermented and residual sugar is higher, again, for a purpose. Properly made “appassimento” wines, need to have higher acidity and a great structure to balance that extra sugar content, without, they are just undrinkable and difficult to pair with food. ”Appassimento” wines also often require ageing, they are labour intense and therefore costly, and lastly, not all grapes can be “appassite”, dried, there are grapes that already have, when ripe, a high sugar content, let alone drying them.
Several years ago, there was a trend of “oaked” chardonnay, trend that pushed the oak “flavours” so far that suddenly wine drinkers were, and still are, put off by simply mentioning the name “Chardonnay”, blaming the grape instead of wineries for poorly made wines. At that time, I wrote that “oak” was also being used to cover poorly made wines. Now, I believe that the same is happening for “appassimento” style wines, the appassimento method is, as per the oak, also being used to “hide” poor quality grapes: grapes that haven't reached their natural ripeness and need a “kick”.
More and more poor “appassimento” wines are being made to the point that wine drinkers will eventually be put off and despite “appassimento” wines at the moment seems to be mainly an Italian problem, everyone is trying to jump on the wagon, I guess the Prosecco’s story has not taught wine makers anything, with more and more wine making country eventually joining in. “Appassimento” wines, not being an appellation or a protected style, can be produced all over the world regardless of the grape.
A good “appassimento” wine could be an alternative to a good Malbech, but except for their fruitness, the wine making process is totally different and so are the wines. A good “appassimento” style wine is more complex, bigger, suited for richer food, and at Italyabroad.com we stock a great one. Our wine is Appassimento Revisus
, a fantastic wine for all lovers of the style, made by our friend and award winning winery Roberto Scubla, a name that doesn’t need any introduction. Revisus is a properly made wine with the structure and acidity that an appassimento wine requires, a wine you will love the same way we do, guaranteed.