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(Translated from the French) This beautiful wine presents a wild bouquet lifted by aromas of blackberry, cooked plums, floral and a touch of vanilla. This full-bodied wine displays good fruit, length and freshness on the palate. It offers fleshy and round tannins. Great with roast beef with mushroom sauce, morel ravioli, or gorgonzola. Score – 3 Stars (out of 4). (Thierry Debeur, Le Petit Debeur, 2009)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Valpolicella is a viticultural zone of the province of Verona, Italy, east of Lake Garda. The hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region of small holdings north of the Adige is famous for wine production. Valpolicella ranks just after Chianti in total Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wine production. The red wine known as Valpolicella is typically made from three grape varietals: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. A variety of wine styles are produced in the area, including a recioto dessert wine and Amarone, a strong wine made from dried grapes. Most basic Valpolicellas are light, fragrant table wines in flavor. These wines can be produced in a nouveau style, similar to Beaujolais nouveau and released after only a few weeks after harvest. Valpolicella Classico is made from grapes grown in the original Valpolicella production zone. Valpolicella Superiore is aged at least one year and has an alcohol content of at least 12 percent. Valpolicella Ripasso is a form of Valpolicella Superiore made with partially dried grape skins that have been left over from fermentation of Amarone or recioto.
Winemaking in the region has existed since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. The name "Valpolicella" appeared in charters of the mid 12th century, combining two valleys previously thought of independently. Its etymology is unknown; it might derive from a Latin and Greek mixture for "Valley of Cellars." Today Valpolicella's economy is heavily based on wine production. The region, colloquially called the "pearl of Verona", has also been a preferred location for rural vacation villas. Seven comuni compose Valpolicella: Pescantina, San Pietro in Cariano, Negrar, Marano di Valpolicella, Fumane, Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella and Sant’Anna d’Alfaedo. The Valpolicella production zone was enlarged to include regions of the surrounding plains when Valpolicella achieved DOC status in 1968. In December 2009, the production of Amarone and recioto dessert wines within the Valpolicella DOC received their own separate Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status.
Grapes and wine styles
All the wines produced under the Valpolicella DOC are red and usually contain a sizable amount of the area's most distinguished grape, Corvina. Other grapes used in the production of Valpolicella wine include Molinara, Rondinella, Corvinone, Rossignola, Negrara, Barbera and Sangiovese. A few producers are experimenting with reviving the indigenous grape Oseleta in Valpolicella. The wines are produced in a wide variety of styles ranging from basic nouveau table wines, full bodied red wines, sweet dessert wines and even sparkling spumante. The most basic Valpolicella are light bodied and often served slightly chilled. They have many characteristics similar to a Beaujolais wine and are often noted for their sour cherry flavor. While full bodied recioto and Amarone styles reach alcohol levels of 15-16%, most Valpolicellas have more moderate alcohol levels around 11%. For wines labeled Valpolicella Superiore the wines must be aged a minimum of one year in wood and reach a minimum alcohol level of 12%.
The sweet recioto dessert wine has been the style historically associated with the region and can trace its origins to winemaking techniques of the ancient Greeks. The name comes from the local dialect recie meaning ears. This refers to the extending lobes of a grape cluster, that appear as "ears" at the top of the cluster. The exposed grapes on the "ears" usually receive the most direct sunlight and become the ripest grapes on the cluster. Historically these very ripe "ears" were picked separately and used to make very rich, sweet wines. Today the method for making recioto has evolved to include the use of whole grape clusters. Grapes destined for Recioto della Valpolicella are often grown in the most ideally situated hillside vineyards. The grapes are taken to special drying rooms where they are allowed to desiccate, concentrating the sugars inside the grape.
While recioto are typically sweet with high levels of residual sugar, the must can be allowed to ferment completely dry. Often producers will label this wine as Amarone but they may also choose to produce it as Valpolicella DOC wine or even an Indicazione geografica tipica (IGT) table wine if they choose to use grape blends outside the DOC requirement. Some producers are experimenting with international varieties and producing dry Amarone style wines from grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the late 20th century, a new style of wine known as ripasso (meaning "repassed") emerged. With this technique, the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of recioto and Amarone are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration. The additional food source for the remaining fermenting yeasts helps boost the alcohol level and body of the wines while also leaching additional tannins, glycerine and some phenolic compounds that contribute to a wine's complexity, flavor and color. As the production of Amarone has increased in the 21st century, so too has the prevalence of ripasso style wines appearing in the wine market, with most Amarone producers also producing a ripasso as a type of "second wine". An alternative method is to use partially dried grapes, instead of leftover pomace, which contain less bitter tannins and even more phenolic compounds.
The first Valpolicella producer to commercially market a ripasso wine was Masi in the early 1980s. When the style first became popular in the late 20th century, it was rarely noted on the wine label. There was also debate about whether it was even permitted to be included under DOC regulations. If it was mentioned at all it was relegated to the back label wine description notes. Today the term ripasso is freely permitted to be used, with several examples on the wine market labeled as being made in the ripasso style. In late 2009, Ripasso della Valpolicella received its own DOC designation.
While the style of Amarone has existed in the region for centuries, it was very rarely made as a deliberate wine style. Mostly it was produced in warm vintages when batches of wines destined for sweet recioto were unintentionally allowed to ferment completely dry. The modern concept of Amarone has its roots in the early 1950s when producers "rediscovered" the style and began deliberately using yeast strains that could ferment the high levels of sugars in the wine completely into alcohol. The first completely dry Amarones that were commercially marketed were the 1953 vintages produced by Bolla and Bertani. In 2009, the production of Amarone wine in the Valpolicella zone achieved DOCG status. During the petitioning process, the wine producers in the region established several quality control regulations including quotas on the amount of grapes grown in the fertile plains that could be used in Amarone production. Another measure was the 2003 removal of Molinara from the list of mandatory blending grapes.
Amarone is unique in the wine world. Typically very alcoholic, full bodied and ripe tasting wines are produced in very warm climate regions where the grapes are able to build up large amounts of sugar while ripening on the vine. Examples of warm climate regions include parts of Australia, California and southern Italy. The Valpolicella region is characterized as a "cool climate region" where acid levels are usually maintained and sugar build occurs more slowly in the vine. Grapes destined for Amarone are the last grapes in Valpolicella to be harvested, getting as ripe as they can before mold and rot set in. The sugars in the grapes are then concentrated by a process of desiccation where they are kept in special drying rooms for anywhere from three to four months. During this time over a third of the water is removed as the grapes shrivel into raisins. This method (known as passito) produces more concentrated grapes that still maintain the acid balance of a cool-climate grape. Amarones differ from other late harvest wines in that the presence of Botrytis cinerea is actively discouraged as winemakers attempt to avoid the smoky, moldy flavors that come with botrytized wine. Extra care is taken in the vineyard to insure that the grapes are kept dry and harvested before rot can develop.
Bolla was one of the first producers to commercially market an Amarone wine from Valpolicella.
The Amarones are then aged for several years with many premium examples being aged for at least five years prior to release. They are often aged in large wooden barrels of either Slovenian or French oak. Traditionally the barrels are older and essentially "neutral" in that they do not impart much flavor or wood tannins but in the late 20th and early 21st centuries more Amarone producers have been experimenting with the use of smaller new oak barrels that introduce more oak flavoring to the wine.
Amarones are rich, full bodied wines with flavor and aroma notes that are often compared to the flavors of Port wine. The wines often have notes of mocha, bitter-sweet dark chocolate, raisin, dried fig and earthy flavors. At restaurants sommeliers will often recommend food and wine pairings for Amarone with hearty, heavy dishes such as meat roasts. A classic after-dinner assortment is Amarone paired with walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Master of wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan notes that well made examples of Amarone from favorable vintages usually need about ten years of bottle aging for the flavors to mature and have the potential to continue developing for twenty years or more.
This smells of fruits and red berries, maybe strawberries. It have a nice full bodied taste with hints of fruit. A slightly bitter after taste ruins the experience for me. I have had better ripassos and would take my chances on another instead of buying this again. I rate it at 3/5 where 5 is best.