Full bottle 1,341 g. Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella. Pergola-trained vines at 250 to 450 m on volcanic soil – tuffa, clay, limestone. Picked beginning of October. Destemmed. Fermented and rested in stainless steel.
Tasting this side by side with their 2021 Bardolino and their 2019 Tenuta Lena di Mezzo Valpolicella Classico Superiore, it is really interesting to observe the differences between these three wines made with the same grape varieties, in the same general region and all with stainless steel: the Bardolino from low-altitude, lake-side, morainic vineyards; and the Valpolicellas from much higher up, on volcanic soils, in vineyards much more impacted by strong winds and intense sunlight.
The Bardolino was from the 'fresher' 2021 vintage. But it's striking that despite the differences, the leitmotif of freshness and bird-song clarity and purity of these particular grape varieties shines through all three wines. This 2020 Classico tastes of wild plums and wild cherries tangled in hedgerows. A very soft hint of anise and cumin seed, blood-orange-tinged acidity, a heart tilted to ruby-raspberry tang.
A wine with a very gentle soul swatched in gossamer-fine tannins. Achingly, silently persistent. It is stunning in its purity of expression of place. Might this be one of the best 'straight' Valpolicella Classicos I've ever tasted?
Drink 2022 - 2026
Tamlyn Currin, JancisRobinson.com (March 2022)
Aromas of dried strawberries, graphite, tar, peppercorns and oak spices. Medium-to full-bodied with juicy berries and fine tannins. Round and creamy, with a bright core of red fruit on the center-palate. Flavourful.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (August 2022)
Aromatic herbal nose, pure mint and sage, with spicy blackberry aromas. Juicy, with substance, yet crisp with a light sophisticated grip.
Drink 2022 - 2024
Michael Garner, Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW, Michaela Morris, Decanter.com (March 2022)
The 2020 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso Tenuta Lena di Mezzo wafts up spicy, with a bouquet of dried roses and peppery herbs complicated by crushed ashen stone. It's silky-smooth and supple, contrasted by a core of tart wild berry fruits and brisk acidity. The 2020 lingers long and potent, leaving bitter raspberry and lavender hints behind.
Drink 2023 - 2027
Eric Guido, Vinous.com (December 2022)
About this WINE
Monte del Fra
Monte del Frà translates as ;Hill of Monks; and is located in the heart of the Bianco di Custoza DOC. It now consists of over 65 hectares of vineyards is owned and run by brothers Eligio and Claudio Bonomo. It is one of the most progressive and dynamic producers in the region and has been particularly innovative in its adoption of modern viticultural techniques.
Eligio Bonomo was the first producer in the region to retrain the traditionally 1.6m high cordon vines to lower-trained, single guyot systems. In the winery the Bonomos use thoroughly modern, clean and temperature-controlled fermentation and storage facilities in order to preserve the aromatic freshness in their wines. They produce very good-quality wines which are clean, display excellent purity of fruit and are elegant and well balanced.
Valpollicella is a famous (and infamous) Venetian wine DOC north of Verona producing enormous amounts of red wine of variable quality and accounting for almost 7% of the Veneto's entire production.
Valpolicella Classico covers the original zone, an area drastically enlarged with the granting of DOC status in 1968 (energetically encouraged by the large, local co-operatives) to encompass the fertile plains as well as the superior Lessini Mountain foothills. After opening the floodgates to gallons of poor quality Valpolicella, steps have more recently been taken to redress the quality issue, notably through the removal of Molinara from the list of permissible grape varieties. Only Corvina Veronese and Corvinone can now be used, along with a small percentage of Rondinella and Croatina.
The wines are aged in large oak vessels or stainless-steel vats for no more than a year, thus retaining the fresh, approachable, black cherry fruit that can make them so attractive. While Valpolicella (and even Classico) may be light and relatively simple, Valpolicella Ripasso is altogether richer and more satisfying. Matured on Amarone lees, it begins like a slightly less full-bodied version of Amarone before finishing on a sweet, Recioto-like note.
Valpolicella Ripasso is an increasingly popular style of Valpolicella that is produced by passing Valpolicella ‘normale’ or Classico over the still warm Amarone grape pomace in early spring after the Amarone wine has been run off. This effects a second alcoholic fermentation in the Valpolicella and gives the resulting wine more body, texture and alcohol.
Corvina, Corvinone blend
Corvina is widely grown on the Veneto shore of Lake Garda and the hills of Valpolicella to the north and north-east of Verona. Sometimes known as Corvina Veronese, it is blended with Rondinella and Molinara to produce Valpolicella and Bardolino. It can be a tricky grape to cultivate, as it ripens late and is prone to rot if affected by rains at harvest time. It is a high-yielding grape and quality is very dependent on keeping yields low.
Corvina-based red wines can range in style from a light, cherryish red to the rich, port-like Recioto and Amarone Valpolicellas. Most Valpolicella from the plains is pale and insipid, and bears little comparison with Valpolicella Classico from the hills. Some producers such as Allegrini are now producing very high quality 100% Corvina wines.