Valpolicella is a renowned red wine region in northern Italy, particularly in the province of Verona. The wines are typically light to medium-bodied, fruity, approachable and made from a blend of local grape varieties such as Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara. Notable styles from the region include Ripasso, made by fermenting Valpolicella on Amarone lees, and Amarone, a dry, full-bodied wine from dried grapes.
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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.
Recommended producers: Corte Sant'Alda, Giuseppe Quintarelli, Allegrini, Novaia