There are journeys which unwind with no uncertainties, following clear and precise paths.
The story of Tommaso Bussola arises from the land of Valpolicella - a land of harmony and beauty, of ancient tradition. The first chapter opens in 1977, the year Tommaso began working in the small wine estate of his uncle Giuseppe.
The characteristics of his personality, which were to have such an influence on his eventual wine production, were evident from the start, and leave no doubts at all.
We are speaking of passion and of skill, of an "inborn enthusiasm" and of that inexhaustible energy which manifests itself from time to time in, for example, the satisfied look of a taster, in the positive appreciation of the public, thanks to the knowing recognition of one who knows how to infer, in a glass of wine, all the sacrifice and dedication that has gone into producing it.
In the first years of activity, Tommaso faithfully followed the footsteps of the traditionalists, respecting the time-honoured practices of barrel aging - barrels which, in those times, were used and re-used many times over the years.
The wines of this style of production carry the logo "bg", being the initials of his uncle, Bussola Giuseppe.
But in 1983 Tommaso, with his first solo vinification, chose to take up another challenge: that of constantly improving the quality of the product. To this end, he began personally looking after the selection of grapes destined for the production of Amarone and Recioto.
The proof that the chosen path was the right one came in the form of recognitions obtained in the earliest competitive wine tastings.
Encouraged by his first successes, Tommaso' adventure did not stop, and the construction of the new winery, in years 1992/3, coincided with the introduction of barriques, in which the wines can complete the fermentation in a constantly improving process.
The new wines were baptised with the label "TB" (Tommaso Bussola); thus does the innovative style sit side by side with the historic style under the "bg" label.
Can a vocation be contagious? It would seem so, because in 1995 Tommaso's wife Daniela began working for the estate.
The story continues . . . .
Work in the vineyard is measured by the months and the seasons. In order to avoid excessive impoverishment of the lands, the various soils are periodically analysed and a programme of interventions with organic fertilizers is drawn up. The pruning assures a limited number of buds, whether that be on the guyot training system or the pergola. Apart from this, the plants are not subjected to sprays other than the traditional copper-sulphur mix. With an eye to preserving the balance of the plant to the maximum no chemical herbicides or pesticides are employed. Instead, natural methods are used (e.g. bacillus thurimgensis).
June is the month for green pruning, perhaps too some bunch thinning. However, the real harvest does not begin until early September, with the precocious varieties like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Croatina and Dindarella. The vintage proceeds tyhen with the other varieties, Corvinone, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara etc., and continues until the middle of October.
The method of picking is traditional, by hand, each bunch being carefully selected, starting with the grapes destined for drying, the bunches being placed in trays. The grapes last picked are those destined for immediate crushing.
The 'appassimento' or drying of the grapes, can last up to four months for the Amarone and seven months for the Recioto. In this phase are brought into use ventilators and dehumidification machines, especially on days of high humidity.
Lastly we arrive at the vinification stage. The grapes crushed in October ferment in stainless steel tanks; there follow requent pumpings over. Following this the wine is racked off the coarse lees. It remains in tank until the time comes for bottling (in the case of the Valpolicella Classico), or for undergoing the "ripasso" (in the case of the Valpolicella Superiore).
The dried grapes are first crushed in January, and continue macerating and fermenting for from 55/60 days up to 80 days, according to the year.
THE AGEING CELLAR
The Amarones and Reciotos, after being racked, are separated from the coarse lees after 15 days. They are then put into tonneaux and barriques of oak from various provenances. Here the fermentation proceeds slowly for 24 months or longer. It may even continue as long as 30 months, always on the fine lees. Batonnage is carried out when necessary until the moment of bottling.