Amarone Della Valpolicella is one of the famous wines of the world. Valpolicella is one of Italy’s most esteemed wine-producing regions. While Amarone may be the most celebrated wine from Valpolicella, there are four distinct styles of Valpolicella wines. Each style offers its own personality and uniqueness. It is a region entirely dedicated to producing only the finest red wines from Italy.
Where is Valpolicella?
Valpolicella is tucked away in Northern Italy at the foothills of the Alps. Located in the romantic Province of Verona, Valpolicella is located just east of Lake Garda and protected by the Lessinin Mountains on the north and east. The region boasts a rich history of winemaking and viticulture dating back to the times of the Greeks and Romans.
A richly beautiful region, the name Valpolicella has Greek and Latin origins meaning “valley of many cellars”. The breathtaking landscape is hilly with soft slopes covered with vineyards, olive trees, and cherry trees.
There are four distinct appellations within the region, Valpolicella DOC, Valpolicella Ripasso DOC, Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG, and Recioto Della Valpolicella DOCG. The hillside vines of Valpolicella are planted on calcareous, limestone and clay soils, while the southern plains are rich with alluvial soils. Grapes are grown on a variety of altitudes, with parcels of land that are on hills, valleys, and plains. This variation delivers a variety of styles that are unique and mesmerizing on the palate.
One Blend – Four Distinct Styles
Valpolicella produces four distinct styles of wines. What makes it all the more unique is that the four styles of wines are made from a blend of the same red indigenous grapes, Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone, and Molinara.
- Valpolicella DOC are light red wines that are youthful and aromatic with hints of cherry and rose. These are fresh wines with light and smooth tannins.
- Valpolicella Ripasso DOC is produced by taking the pomace of Amarone and macerating it with Valpolicella Classico. The wines are slightly richer and denser in structure than Valpolicella DOC. It has intense aromas of red fruit and ripe cherries. It is smooth, dry, and velvety on the palate.
- Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG – Amarone is ‘The King of Valpolicella’. The wines are deliciously concentrated and velvety in texture. With a unique process of winemaking, Amarone is made from grapes that have been dried for 100-120 days. The drying process increases the fruit and sugar of the grapes. The wines are aged 2-4 years in oak barrels. The wines have notes of dry fruits, cherry cola, tobacco, and spice. These magical wines are full-bodied, intense and concentrated. Amarone is a highly unique wine that requires indigenous grapes, intense artisan labor and longevity to produce.
- Recioto Della Valpolicella DOCG is made from 100-120 days dried grapes. Fermentation is stopped to maintain the sweetness of the wine. It is a hedonistically sweet wine with an intense ruby color. It has aromatic notes of dry fruits and black cherries. The wines have nice structure, marked acidity and are highly age-worthy.
Sartori Di Verona
Sartori has a long and rich history in the Valpolicella region. Sartori wines are a perfect balance between modern innovations and traditional winemaking from Valpolicella. Satori Di Verona, a family-owned estate, is located in the heart of Valpolicella. It was founded in 1898 by Pietro Sartori with the purchase of Villa Maria vineyards. Years later Pietro’s son Regola built a winery and in the 1950s, Regolo’s sons expanded the winery and brought international fame and recognition to the family wines. Today Andrea Sartori, Pietro’s great-grandson is at the helm.
With deep roots and history in Valpolicella, they produce wines that are innovative with new interpretations of Veronese wines, as well as fantastic expressions of traditional wines. Making wines that are understated, elegant and timeless is a testament to the family’s winemaking values, having maintained a style that is fresh and in-demand without succumbing to trends.
Sartori Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC 2015 is made from grapes selected in vineyards in the Valpolicella Classico area, in northern Verona. A blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Croatina, the wine is ruby red with rich aromatics of black cherry and spice. It is deliciously smooth and round on the palate with rich fruits and elegant tannins.
Sartori Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico ‘Corte Brà’ DOC 2012 is from the Corte Brà estate in the Classico region in the northern hills of Verona. The wine is a blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Oseleta, made in the traditional Amarone style. The grapes are carefully selected and dried for 3-4 months, afterward, the grapes go through a second selection and only the best grapes are used for production. It is then fermented in stainless steel and aged in medium to small oak casks for 4 years. The wine is a deep ruby red with bright aromas of fruit, spice, and herbs. This Amarone is a rich full-bodied wine with lavish fruit flavors, bright acidity, and a beautifully long finish. It is rich and velvety, yet elegant and powerful. A beautiful expression of an elegant Amarone from Valpolicella.
Get To Know Valpolicella With These Six Exceptional Wines
I recently had the opportunity to attend a guided masterclass and tasting of the wines from Valpolicella with Filippo Bartolotta, one of Italy’s most renowned wine journalists and Valpolicella Wine Ambassador. The tasting was diverse and informative and I had the opportunity to taste Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto side by side comparing the unique styles of the region. Below are six exceptional wines made by small producers that are available in the United States.
Corte Cavedini Valpolicella DOC 2018 is produced by Marco and Elena, second-generation winemakers with state of the art winery and cellars. This small family-run estate practices organic farming. This is a Valpolicella with no oak, the nose is intense with red cherries and violets. On the palate, the wine has a very low presence of tannins, reminiscent of a Barbera. It has crunchy red fruit, most notably cranberries and floral nuances on the palate. A young and delicious fresh wine.
Albino Armani Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore 2017 comes from a small producer in the Morana Valley and grown on volcanic soils at an altitude ofo480 meters above sea level. Albino Armani boasts one of the most beautiful cellars in Valpolicella. This is a complex wine with notes of cherry blossom, orange zest, mint, and warm tobacco are present on the nose. The palate is fresh with nice minerality and savoriness, coming from volcanic soils.
Secondo Marco Amarone DOCG 2011 is from Fumane. Made with a more modern approach that is lower in alcohol and aged in Slavonian oak for 48 months. There is beautiful dark fruit, tobacco, coffee bean, chocolate and earthy mushroom elements on the nose. On the palate, it is juicy with bright intense fruits and savory qualities. A wine with power but also exhibiting leanness.
Villa San Carlo Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG 2012 comes from a beautiful 17th-century villa with only 7 hectares in production. This is a big wine with the simplicity of mature fruit, almonds and floral characters with orange peel. On the palate, there are rich fruit expressions of black cherries and prune, mature fruit. Velvety on the palate with great structure and silky tannins
Boscaini Carlo Valpolicella Ripasso DOC 2016 is made in the ripasso style. The wine offers great value over more pricer Amarone. On the nose, there are aromas of dry herbs, red fruit, and tobacco. On the palate, there are beautiful fruits, persistency, and minerality. A generous wine on the palate with an intensely long finish.
Cà Dei Maghi Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011 has Mediterranean herbs, cola, balsamic action on the nose. An intense floral presence on the palate with tobacco and mushroom. Very super delicious wine goes on, and on, and on. There is a distinct finish with Pomegranate adding an extra dimension. Its finish is polished with nice tannins. The wine is lusciously sweet, yet fresh and full of acidity, This style of wine has fallen out of fashion but is hedonistically delicious and needs to be sought out.
Valpolicella needs to be recognized by more people. These wines are unique and labor-intensive and hence require dedicated and passionate winemakers to make the finest wines in Valpolicella.