Why Buglioni is Essential
Azienda Agricola Buglioni may technically be a Valpolicella winery, but its identity is just as strongly connected to the nearby city of Verona, where the family’s osteria cultivated a passionate following among the Veronese. There is a bit of a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude at Buglioni, for the family made its living in the textile industry and was not considered serious when it moved into wine in 2000. Mariano Buglioni, the current proprietor of the estate, told me that this slight from the wine community prompted them to open Osteria del Bugiardo in the heart of Verona to showcase their wines, and pretty quickly, the masses thronging the enoteca proved the naysayers wrong.
While much of Valpolicella is hung-up on swinging for stratospheric point scores, Buglioni’s wines are aimed for this enoteca culture. They inspire lively conversation with their vanity names, but more importantly, they complement a wider spectrum of food pairings than almost anyone in Valpolicella. Buglioni is able to balance elegance and docility without losing the tones, textures and aromas that make Valpolicella’s wines so unique. That, in its own right, is a neat little trick. And it has injected new life into how we can see what has been — and many ways remains — a stale and pompous wine way of look at Valpo.
Wines to Seek Out
Buglioni “L’Imperfetto” Valpolicella Classico Superiore
Buglioni’s wines all have tongue-in-cheek vanity names. If admitting that this wine is imperfect sounds like a way of lowering the bar, think again. This wild and playful wine is reminiscent of thorny things — rosehips and berry patches mostly. It also have pronounced savory edges, which I find enticing. Perhaps that makes it “imperfect” in the land of point-chasing extraction and heavy hitting, but if I’m drinking wine with a pasta course, it better perform like this instead.
Buglioni “Il Bugiardo” Valpolicella Ripasso
The story goes that this wine is called “The Liar” because a wine connoisseur was convinced it was actually an Amarone and he accused Mariano Buglioni of being a liar. However, this wine is far too versatile and sleek to be an Amarone. Rather, it falls into the Goldilocks territory (“this one is just right”) that the ripasso category does so well.
Buglioni “Il Lussurioso” Amarone della Valpolicella
The Lustful is an apt vanity name for this hedonistic yet refined Amarone that works surprisingly well with a variety of cuisine. Conjuring up thoughts of raisins, coffee, leather and petrichor on the nose, its aromas alone make it my favorite Amarone.
Buglioni “Il Narcisista” Recioto della Valpolicella
Blueberries, mint and black truffles. These things came to mind when I tasted The Narcissist, a decadent and seductive recioto that could easily be called The Lustful, Part 2.
Originally listed: October 2018. Updated January 2021.
Tastings are available at the winery, but there is something to be said for experiencing these wines at either Osteria del Bugiardo in Verona, or at Dimora del Bugiardo, their “agrirelais” in the Valpolicella countryside.