Constructed in the 17th century, the Gnirega estate is perched in the hills of Marano di Valpolicella, flanked by the Adriatic Sea to the east, Lake Garda to the west, and the Alps to the north. Winegrowing in this part of the Veneto dates back to the ancient Greeks, and while the appellation was expanded dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s to encompass swaths of flatlands to the south, it is the high-altitude slopes of Marano and its surrounding communes which comprise the heart of the traditional Valpolicella zone.
In 1969, Pietro Clementi, the then-mayor of Marano, purchased the Gnirega estate and its 20 hectares of vineyards and woodlands. Pietro spent his formative years among the vines; his parents, concerned for his safety amidst bombing raids on their native Verona during World War Two, shipped him off to Illasi in Valpolicella’s easternmost sector to live with his grandparents—owners of the well-regarded Trabucchi winery. Pietro eventually moved to Verona, pursuing a career in law during the 1950s and 1960s, but the call of his childhood hills proved irresistible, and he set about producing wine in earnest upon acquiring Gnirega.
From the outset, Clementi aimed to produce in a non-flashy, traditional style—a style that speaks of the inherent acidity and freshness obtainable in these high-altitude slopes of sandy chalk. Tasting modern exemplars of Amarone, one might be hard-pressed to sense the terroir through the carefully engineered opulence, but this late-picked appassimento style works in theory precisely because its source fruit is so bright and lifted—at least when grown in Valpolicella’s historical communes. When embraced rather than combatted, this freshness engenders wines of balance and drinkability even among elevated alcohol levels and technique-derived gustatory elements.
More on Clementi here.