by Fred McMillin
for March 13, 1998

Winery of the Week

Ah Hah! It's Bolla!


Now that there was a united Italy [1861), the new country's wine production doubled between 1870 and 1890.

...Hugh Johnson, "Vintage"

1883—Abele Bolla knew a good thing when he saw it. Owner of the Hotel Gambero in Soave, west of Venice, he started a winery. His first wine was a Soave.

1993—Much of the fame earned world-wide by the wines from the Venician hills, particularly Soave, is owed to one brand, Bolla, which has become a household word in the United States.

...Carlo Petrini, "Slow Food Guide to Wine"

The Rest of the Story  

What a legacy. Abele's original inn is still operating. His great grandson, Francesco Bolla, heads the 2.5 million case winery. Francesco pays close attention to U.S.A. tastes. The first Bolla wine arrived in this country just 50 years ago...200 cases of red Bardolino. Today, Bolla is the biggest-selling premium import brand in America. Here are some of the reasons for such success.

Bolla Soave Classico
My first tasting notes on Bolla Soave were written on Jan. 15, 1971, about a wine produced exactly 30 years ago. The 1968 vintage had much more body and intensity than I had expected. Today, it is crisper, with more pronounced fruit flavors. That fruit comes from Bolla's new "cryomaceration" facilities; the freshly-crushed grapes are held in contact with the skins at very low temperatures to increase varietal flavors before fermentation is started.

Bolla Amarone
This is another landmark import: In 1953 Bolla brought the first Amarone into U.S.A. market. Amarone is made by an old Italian process in which the grapes are laid out on mats and allowed to dry for several months. The water content dimishes, the intensity increases, and the grapes are crushed in January or February. Critic Alexis Bespaloff calls Amarone one of Italy's "most powerful reds." My panel was very impressed.

the Facts
Name—Fratelli Bolla Location—Verona
U.S.A. Representative—Brown and Foreman
Contact—Barbara Waits Juckett, (800) 456-8946


While you may not have known that Francesco Bolla spends much time in Verona, you do know of two earlier Verona residents. Their names were Romeo and Juliet.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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