The Società Nicolis Angelo e Figli is located in S. Pietro in Cariano, in the heart of the "classic" zone. The art of viticulture is a richness that the Nicolis family has passed on for generations with the cultivation of the family owned property: 90 hectars, from which 42 are vineyards.
From grapevines located in the lower hills, the soils are medium graded, profound, and fertile. From these, classic vintage wines are produced, while wines destined for aging like the prized Amarone and Recioto are produced from grapevines grown in terraced hills.
Having always transformed part of the wine production for consumption by the family and various locals, it was only in 1951 that Angelo together with his wife Natalia, began to form a true winery with adequate structures in order to satisfy a wider market. Their great passion for the production of fine wines was given a new impulse with the insertion of the sons in its activities, who having completed studies in enology and business management, personally conduct most of the activities of the winery.
The present winery produces high quality wines, due to the enterprising strenght and intuition of Angelo Nicolis, followed by his wife, and their children, who knew how to share thier love for the land and traditional characteristics of the families of the Valpolicella.
Today, the winery is headed by three brothers. Giancarlo takes accurate care of the grapevines, thus guaranteeing the quality of the fruit that is produced. Giuseppe, as an enologist, follows the process of vinification. Massimo handles the commercial aspects and relations with Italian and foreign clients. Their mother Natalia continues to help in the family business; due to her enterprising capacities and experience, she gives daily support to the continuation of the winery.
In the Valpolicella, there are numerous small zones that are particularly adapted for viticulture. Each of these zones has diverse characteristics, which are reflected in the final product and its quality. An accurate examination of the soil, its exposition, and the climate are therefore at the base of a careful choice where grapevines are grown. The "cru" Seccal, Ambrosan, and Cà Girardi produced by the Nicolis family are found in a very old and traditional zone. These cru are quite close to one another and are made from grapes grown under similar geographical and climatic conditions.
The land is well exposed and well ventilated, and has a unique microclimate. These elements make the vines that come from these grapevines singular products, with exceptional characteristics and personalities. As for other vineyards, the grape harvest for the cru is rigorously carried out by manually, in October. The vines are maintained in a pergola system, which allows the cultivation of more than 8400 plants per acre.
After the harvest, the intact, whole grapes are taken to the winery and placed on a conveyor belt that takes them to a large crusher equipped with rollers. With a grate, the harder parts of the grape bunches, as well as the skins, are separated form the juice, in a delicate manner. The liquid is then placed in large containers where temperature controlled fermentation takes place. Moreover, the contact of the solid particles with the must is increased through the technique of délestage. During the fermentation period the wine is kept in big cylindrical stainless steel containers; fermentation produces carbon dioxide that pushes the grape skins to the top of the cylinder and they so form "heat" in the upper part. Now the "wine-must" (that is liquid) is extracted and filled into another container, so that the "hat" will fall down and break apart thanks to some steel sticks in the cylinder.
Afterwards the liquid is poured back into the first container from the top so as to remix it in order to extract the maxium possible contact from the grape skins which is very important for the structure of the new wine. This action is repeated daily during the whole fermentation period.
With the separation of the grape skins and the remaining sediment, the drawing of wine may be initiated. From this point on, the process of fermentation, which was previously somewhat turbulent, will gradually slow down as the days go by, until it stops completely. The young wine is then decanted in order to separate it from the sediments of solid particles and from other impurities. After several rounds of decanting and sedimentation, the wine reaches its natural clearness and is ready to be transferred into casks for aging.
The grapes destined for the production of Amarone and Recioto wines undergo a particular treatment. Let's take, for example, the procedure for the production of Amarone. A few days before the grapes are mature enough to make Valpolicella wine, experts go through the vineyards and select the best, well separated bunches of grapes. These grapes are then placed in wooden drawers (or, alternatively on bamboo mats) and transferred to special areas that are dry and well aerated. In this way, the grapes raisin naturally and thus an extraordinarily high concentration of sugars, glycerol, and other aromas are obtained after extraction.
The raisined grapes are pressed in January. Due to the low temperature, the process of fermentation is lengthy and slow. The grapes undergo various procedures in order to extract the greatest possible quantity, the yield of wine will rarely be greater than 40of that compared to the other wines. After being decanted a few times to eliminate larger sediments, the wine is aged in oak casks or small barrels, some of which are new and others are medium toasted or browned. Aging takes about 30 months, depending on the vintage. Once completed, the wines are blended and then put back in oak casks to complete the aging process.
Typically, the wine is then transferred to bottles for further, temperature-controlled aging for some months. Once ready to be sold, the wine is at its peak, but may still improve further with time. In fact, it may be conserved for at least fifteen years.