What Are Valpolicella Wines?
Canada loves Valpolicella wines. We import 34% of the Valpolicella DOC and 18% of Valpolicella Ripasso DOC according to the Consorzio. According to the Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella, “Valpolicella is the top red PDO wine in the Veneto region and amongst the most important in Italy. On a regional level, it comes second only to Prosecco.”
Valpolicella is located north of Verona, bordering Lake Garda to the west and by the Lessini Mountains to the east and north.
There are 4 styles of winemaking for Valpolicella: Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG, Valpolicella Ripasso DOC and Valpolicella DOC. Valpolicella DOC is the lightest bodied of these wines, Valpolicella Ripasso DOC is a medium-bodied wine, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG is a full-bodied wine, and Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG is a sweet red wine.
Since the wines are all made from the same grapes blend of native varieties, the main discriminating factor to mark out them is the different wine making technique. 97% of the grapes used for Valpolicella wines are indigenous varieties, primarily Corvina (57%), Rondinella (21%), and Corvinone (13%). Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot make the 3% of international varieties grown in the region. To make a Valpolicella wine, at least one of the primary grapes has to make at least 45% of the blend. Corvina is the backbone of the blends.
How Are Valpolicella Wines Made?
Valpolicella DOC is made by picking and fermenting a blend of the grapes as determined by the winemaker. Think traditional red wine making. Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG is made by partially drying the grapes after they have been picked. The process takes approximately 120 days and concentrates the juices in the grapes and increases skin contact. After 120 days, in January or February, the partially dried grapes are pressed then fermented at a cool temperature. The result is a full-bodied wine with low acidity. Valpolicella Ripasso DOC is sometimes known as the poor man’s Amarone. It is made by the “re-passing” the Valpolicella DOC wine with the already fermented grape skins of Amarone (or Recioto). The Valpolicella wine remains in contact with the Amarone grape skins for 10 – 12 days causing a second alcoholic fermentation. This wine is richer than Valpolicella DOC and costs less than Amarone. Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG uses the same technique as for Amarone, but the wine is not fermented till dry, thus making a full-bodied sweet wine.
My Valpolicella Selections
Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2012 – Really sweet, red fruit nose. Full bodied, hot and dry with medium tannins. Dark fruit and peppery, along with some bitterness. Long length.
Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico Riserva 2008 “Bosan” – Ripe dark fruit and sweet spice on the nose. Medium body, round with medium tannins. A mix of cassis and ripe dark fruit flavours. Sweet spice and peppery toward the finish. Good quality. Could age 4-5 more years.
Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 – A complex nose, with a mix of blackberries, currants, sweet spice and chocolate. Medium plus body, dry, with medium tannins and acidity. Blackberries, sweet spices and dark fruit flavours. Long length.
Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2010 “Mai Dire Mai” – Old World oak, cedary, vanilla and blackberry fruit on the nose. Fuller bodied with flavours of ripe dark fruit, sweet spices, in particular cloves, and chocolate. Very tasty. –
Santi Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2010 “Proemio” – Very aromatic, with aromas of prunes and dried black fruits. Full bodied with medium plus tannins and medium acidity. Flavours of dark fruit, chocolate, and pepper. Very good. –
Santi Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2012 – Light black currant and prune aromas in the glass. Lighter mouthfeel, dry and firmer tannins. Quite fruity, with a mix of black fruits. Peppery as well.
Sartori di Verona Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2010 “Corte Bra” – Dried fruits, chocolate and cassis on the nose. Dry, full bodied. Ripe apples and cassis flavours. Some spice and light bitterness. –
Sartori di Verona Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2013 “Rerum” – Ripe sweet raspberry nose. Semi-sweet, with medium body and tannins. Flavours of ripe red cherries and raspberries. Medium length. An enjoyable sweet sip. –
Scriani Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2015 – Deep aromas of sweet dark ripe fruit in the glass. Dry with medium plus body and firmer tannins. Ripe red cherries and other red fruits, along with vanilla on the palate. Very good quality.
Scriani Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2012 – Deep, dark fruit nose with a meaty, sweet spice edge. Full body with firmer tannins and heavier mouth feel. Ripe dark fruit and sweet spices, finishing peppery in the mouth. –
Valentina Cubi Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2014 “Arusnatico” – An organic wine. This wine has nice sweet red fruit and apples on the nose. Dry with a light mouth feel. Red apples, red fruit and vanilla on the palate. Very flavourful. Some pepperiness. A light and elegant wine. –
Valentina Cubi Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2007 “Morar” – A mix of dark and dried fruits on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, with a soft and silky mouthfeel initially and finish with firm tannins. Dark fruits, capsicum and spice on the palate. A complex wine. –
Vigneti di Ettore Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore 2015 “Pavajo” – An organic winery. Light vanilla, nutmeg and red & black fruit nose. Full body, round and dry with firmer tannins. Raspberries and red fruits, along with sweet spices, in particular, nutmeg on the palate.
Vigneti di Ettore Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2014 – Funky nose with some burnt rubber. Full body, dry and round, with deep dark fruit flavours and sweet spices. Raspberries come in mid palate. The flavours more than the nose sell this wine.
Vigneti di Ettore Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2013 – Sweet, deep dark fruit and ripe raspberry aromas. Full body with firm tannins. Dry with medium acidity. Raspberries, ripe dark fruit and chocolate flavours. Peppery finish. –