Until a few years ago I wasn’t a wine person, but...
...desde que me mudé a Italia y comencé a salir con italianos poco comencé a transformarme en una amante del esta bebida tan rica de variedad.
I recognize that I still understand very little and as much as I recognize a wine that I like, I am not an expert. In particular, since I became passionate about the city of Verona I am curious to understand something else because in this city wine is almost a religion.
Both because they drink it a lot and because they have a tradition of high quality wines, unique in the world.
So I decided to deepen the topic of Veronese wines:
I was fortunate to meet a professional from the sector, a winemaker who knew how to help me understand the particularity of Verona wines.
This article was born from this little research.
But let’s start by understanding the area, in fact the main production areas around Verona are more than one with different specialties.
Let’s start with the most famous area and with the most important wines, as well as to be considered among the best red wines in Italy, Valpolicella.
Valpolicella includes in the name a vast area of hills north of Verona.
As often happens with large wine areas, there are also many subzones that the most passionate and expert know as palms.
The most important distinction, however, is between «Valpolicella Classica» and ? Valpolicella? , the first includes a more restricted area of production of these wines, whereas «Valpolicella» has a larger area of wine production, in any case it is a territory in which historical companies have been established that produce high quality wines.
But speaking of the speciality of these wines, a very important thing is that the wines of Valpolicella are produced only from native grapes, in particular from a mixture of 3 local grapes that are found almost nowhere else in the world: Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella.
Each company follows its own recipe in terms of proportions, however, the fact of having 3 local vineyards for a type of wine so widespread already tells us how old is the tradition of wine and how unique is this production in the world.
A second thing that makes this territory special is that from these 3 grapes is not produced 1 red wine, but 4 different products:
- Valpolicella is a DOC red wine of intense ruby color, very deep and dark, which with aging tends to orange shades. It has fruity aromas, motley and determined.
- Valpolicella Amarone, this is the king of Venetian red wines, and one of the most prestigious DOCG in Italy.
What is the difference between Amarone and classic Valpolicella?
To make the Amarone wine, after being harvested between September and October, the grapes are left to dry for a long period with several systems, some older, others more modern. This phase of dehydration of grapes lasts about 120 days, in Italian this treatment of grapes is widespread in many areas and is called «drying» and wines produced in this way are called «passito wines». At the end of the process the grape weighs about 40% less and its juice is superconcentrate.
This is where the grapes are processed to produce Amarone and what makes the Amarone wine truly unique is that while the ? passito? wines are almost all sweet wines, given the very high concentration of sugars in the initial juice. ¡Amarone is a dry red passito!
The result is a wine that has incredibly powerful aromas and colors and also a very high alcohol content, rarely below 16º.
Before being drunk you must spend at least 2 years of aging and the result is generally exceptional, with an incredible aromatic richness (ripe fruit, spices, chocolate among the most common) and an intensity that will leave you speechless.
Clearly, given the method of production that lowers yields and makes the process more elaborate, it is a wine that is produced in less quantity and with much higher prices, but if you like wine and pass through here, try a good Amarone, even if it is only a glass ¡is an experience that you can not miss!
- Recioto della Valpolicella. The speech here is very simple, once dehydrated the grapes in the way we have just described, the producer can decide to elaborate the sweet version passita that is the Recioto.
Throughout Italy it is much more common that passito wines are sweet like Recioto and not dry like Amarone, in any case a sweet and red passito wine is quite rare because white grapes are more common.
The result is a wine with intense and complex aromas such as Amarone, perfect for after a meal or to drink alone, as its sweetness makes it very easy to drink and pleasant.
We are left with the last wine that the Veronese have known how to combine with these grapes:
- The Valpolicella Ripasso. This wine is the result of another unique recipe in the world of wine and a very particular product.
What happens; after having elaborated the Amarone, the skins that remain in the deposit, given the power of the Amarone wine, are still very rich in color, sugars and alcohol.
In fact, Amarone wine in the early stages of processing is so concentrated that you cannot extract everything from grape skins. So expert winemakers have thought that, in order not to waste any of these delicious grapes, to gather for a while the skins already processed ? and ferment the Amarone with normal Valpolicella wine, then «pass again» the skins and hence the name Ri-Passo.
The result is that compared to the initial wine, this product acquires a greater richness in all fields without having, however, the important structure of amarone. They are generally softer and rounder than Valpolicella and Amarone, which, on the other hand, are generally drier.
We’ve talked about red wines, but is there anything for white lovers?
Don’t worry. There are 2 DOC white wine denominations from the province of Verona that produce excellent wines and much easier to say than Valpolicella!
- Soave DOC is a white wine produced with 2 typical grapes Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave.
It is typical for its straw yellow color, sometimes with greenish reflections and for the elegance of its aromas. A balance between delicacy and intensity make it one of the best known white wines in Italy.
It is also possible to find the sweet version passita of this wine which is called Recioto di Soave.
Finally, another name I really like is:
- Lugana. This name straddles between the province of Verona and Brescia (further west, already in the region of Lombardy) and is linked to the area of Lake Garda (a wonderful lake full of villages and incredible views, but we will talk about this another time! ).
on a personal Lugana is my favorite because of how little I understand it and in general what I have been able to find has always left me very good memories.
My trusted winemaker who helps me write these pages agrees that the Lugana is a wine that has a wide variety of expressions. You can find both young versions and breeds of great quality and depth, to sparkling and versions of classic method. And in general it has a «profile rich in flavor with a tremendous potential to express».
The grape with which this wine is produced is mainly Trebbiano di Soave, which however in Lombardy is more often called Turbiana.
As I said at the beginning, much of this article is the fruit of the knowledge of a professional that I have the pleasure of knowing and personally could not give these judgments and explanations if it were not for its merit.
In the meantime, I think I’ve given you some advice on what you have to prove if you come to Verona, but as always the final choice will be yours. Whether you try one of these wines and want to share your experience or if you find a wine that is not on the list we would love to know your opinion.
In any case, I hope your trip to Italy is an authentic experience inspired by discovery and, why not, taste.