Valpolicella wines: Amarone, Recioto and Molinara

Valpolicella is wine, taste, hospitality, people and nature. It is a unique territory, characterized by an extraordinary landscape shaped by vineyards, beautiful hills and gentle slopes. It is an area rich in tradition and history, with a strong gastronomic imprint of a colorful popular cuisine, made of ancient and authentic flavors. Located in Veneto, it extends for about 240 km² and it has become famous for its rich viticulture. The Valpolicella valley borders the Adige river to the south, and is bordered to the east by the Parona and Quinzano hills and the Valpantena. To the west we find Mount Pastello, which separates it from the Adige Valley, while to the north it extends to the famous Lessini Mountains.

Viticulture has made it famous since the times of ancient Rome, especially thanks to the renowned Amarone della Valpolicella. The valley in fact has always drawn its main source of wealth from agriculture, while viticulture has made its economy prosper. As a matter of fact, in this area there are many small and medium farms and wineries, both family-owned and real industrial companies famous all over the world. Valpolicella wine is exported all over the world, from Central Europe to North America.

Viticulture has widely spread in the area. The best and most valuable vineyards are located in the hills, where, in order to promote the cultivation, have been created special terraces, called in dialect “le marogne”. As the wine production is so renowned and important for this territory, in February 1925 was even established a consortium to protect and defend the typical wines of the area.

 

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Valpolicella wine: an inimitable product

Giuseppe Silvestri, journalist, writer and historian, praised even by Benedetto Croce, wrote about Valpolicella:

“… Not the splendor of the landscape, not the events of history, not the monuments of art, not the songs of poets, has served to make Valpolicella as well known as its typical product: wine.”

And there is no better description when it comes to talk about Valpolicella and its wines. Because it is wines to represent Valpolicella, a rich, variegated and precious production. An area devoted to viticulture since Roman times, which has known a boom in production since the Middle Ages. It is even estimated that, during that period, already 30-40% of the agricultural territory was exclusively dedicated to the cultivation of grapes.

In the nineteenth century were born and developed agronomic and wine sciences and were founded the first social wine cellars. The first mention of Recioto della Valpolicella, which at those times was called Rechiotto, dates back to 1888. A wine which marked the history of enology, because it is thanks to this red wine that one of the most famous and appreciated Venetian wines in the world originated: Amarone.

This name means “bitter“, initially adopted in order to distinguish it from the typical sweetness of Recioto. Amarone della Valpolicella was born in 1936 in Cantina Sociale della Valpolicella, although it was commercialized only many years later, in 1953. It was in that year, in fact, that the first bottling was done by Negrar winery.

What does Valpolicella mean

It may seem a rather bizarre name and it is connected to an etymology which has always been debated. Some think the name derives from Latin: “Vallis Polis Cellae“, which translated means: “valleys with many cellars“. Explanation that would make some sense. Many others instead believe the origin is Greek and the etymology comes from the word “polyzelos“, which means “land of many fruits“, or land “very envied“, or even “very shining“. Finally we also find a rather technical/administrative explanation, which wants to indicate in the term, a particular area from the Adige to the Pol, defined precisely “Valpolesela“, that is, Valley of the Pol. that is, Valle del Pol.

Whatever the origin of its name, Valpolicella remains a treasure trove of treasures, flavors and unique gastronomic riches. A place to discover and to live, through its traditions, its customs and, above all, through its wines.

Amarone della Valpolicella
Amarone della Valpolicella

Valpolicella Classica

When talking about Valpolicella, however, there is something to be said. It is not a particularly vast territory, however it is divided in some subareas according to the wine production. One of them, the most ancient one of all, is called Valpolicella Classica. This is an area where wine making tradition has its roots in a remote past.

This area includes the five historical communes which first started the production of wine: Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella and San Pietro in Cariano as well as the three valleys of Fumane, Marano and Negrar. Products of this area, in the label, are labeled as “Classico” (such as Valpolicella Classico).

 

Valpantena

Another production sub-area of the territory, it is located east of the Classica zone and includes the hamlets of Poiano, Marzana, Quinto di Valpantena, Santa Maria in Stelle, San Felice Extra and Grezzana, with the relative hamlet of Stallavena.

Zona allargata

Last but not least, the Allargata zone, which includes: Val Squaranto, Mezzane Valley, Val d’Illasi, Val Tramigna and Val d’Alpone. This territory includes some municipalities of Verona (with the villages of Mizzole, Montorio, Pigozzo and Trezzolano) and those of San Martino Buon Albergo, Lavagno, Mezzane di Sotto, Colognola ai Colli, Illasi, Tregnago, Cazzano di Tramigna and Montecchia di Crosara.

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What makes Valpolicella an ideal area for the production of wine?

It is soon said: unique and very favorable climatic and soil conditions. Why Valpolicella’s wine, such as Amarone, Recioto, or Corvina, have become so famous and renowned all over the world? Everything depends on grapes and vineyards which find, in this area, the ideal climate to make a quality and valuable product.

The territory is varied and goes from the high part of the hills, with large meadows of lush grass, to sweet slopes stretching towards the plain below. It is right on the slopes that vineyards find the perfect climatic conditions to flourish. If observed from above, Valpolicella, reminds in its shape, the hand of a man. Every finger of the hand corresponds to a hill, on whose slopes have been created exceptional climatic and pedological conditions. A perfectly balanced ecosystem that can only be found here.

Various climatic, physical and biological factors come together and positively influence the entire surrounding area. For example, to the north, the Lessini Mountains protect from wind and winter frost, while the excellent southern exposure contributes to recreating a climate similar even to the Mediterranean. In fact, every valley is positively influenced by its own north-south directional conformation.

 

Amarone della Valpolicella

Amarone della Valpolicella

It is certainly the most renowned and appreciated red wine produced in Valpolicella. It is a dry red raisin wine DOCG (denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin). It is produced exclusively in Valpolicella, because it is only here that it is possible to find the right blend of dark berry grapes, necessary for its production.

A unique and unmistakable taste, an unusual production method and a bizarre story, this is what characterizes this red wine. Let’s start by telling its incredible story. Amarone is the result of an error! A fantastic mistake, a unique mistake. It is produced in the same area of Recioto, it has the same blend and the same production techniques. Despite of this, the result is a completely different wine.

Everything started when a cellarman accidentally forgot a cask of Recioto in the cellar. The cask remained there, alone and forgotten by everyone, for a long time. During all that time the wine continued to ferment, transforming sugars into alcohol. Recioto, at that point, was not Recioto anymore, it was in fact already drier and more alcoholic. In 1936 the forgotten cask was finally found by the cellar master, Adelino Lucchese, in Cantina Sociale Valpolicella.

Lucchese opened it and immediately tasted the wine, being so impressed by it that he exclaimed: “This is not an Amaro, it is an Amarone!“. An expression which marked forever the history of this fantastic product and of the whole Valpolicella. Unfortunately, at that time Recioto was considered much more valuable than Amarone and the error made by the cellarman was really a serious and unforgivable mistake.

As a consequence, before Amarone was able to make a name for itself on the market and to acquire the fame it has today, many years went by. It was in 1938 when the first bottle of Amarone was labeled and it was not until 1953 that it was commercialized.

In 1968 the first Amarone‘s disciplinary was approved and it was recognized as DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata – Denomination of Controlled Origin) and, as years went by, it got more and more approval. Today it is known as one of the best products of Valpolicella, a wine that has made the whole area famous and esteemed all over the world.

 

Disciplinare: what is it

Let’s now come to the disciplinary. Before talking about the specific one of Amarone, let’s try to understand what it is. The disciplinary of a wine is the set of norms to be referred when a DOCG, DOC, or IGT wine is being produced.

Every wine has its own disciplinary and in every one of them are written:

  • denomination
  • reference grape varieties, in which percentage they must be present and to which exact area they refer to
  • grape yield
  • alcoholic strength of grapes
  • density of vines
  • method of vinification and aging
  • technical characteristics of the wine: color, odor, actual alcohol content, total acidity, minimum dry extract (sugar content)
  • designations, mentions and requirements for the labeling and presentation of the product
  • history and links with the territory
  • certification organism

Wine disciplinary are always different and more detailed according to the wine to be produced.

 

amarone della valpolicellaAmarone della Valpolicella: the disciplinare

The disciplinary is to all intents and purposes a norm, whose lack of respect is a crime punishable by law. Specifications are always revised, updated and/or modified, divided (when, for example, from one appellation is created another one), merged (when more appellations are united), or abrogated (when the appellation ceases to exist).

Disciplinari are usually written and controlled by Consorzi di tutela (Consortia for the safeguard of wines), organizations which supervise the creation and the management of the specification itself. Drawing up, approving and publishing a disciplinary is a pretty complicated thing to do. The texts produced are particularly long and detailed.

The disciplinary of Amarone touches many points. In particular, we would like to mention article 2, concerning the grapes to be used for its production:

1) Wines of the controlled and guaranteed denomination of origin “Amarone della Valpolicella” must be obtained from grapes produced in vineyards having, within the winery, the following ampelographic composition:

Corvina Veronese (Cruina or Corvina) from 45% to 95%; it is however allowed the

However it is allowed the presence of Corvinone in the maximum measure of 50%, in substitution of an equal percentage of

Corvina;

Rondinella from 5% to 30%.

The following grapes can be used for the production of these wines, up to a maximum of 25% of total production coming from vines

non-aromatic red grapes, admitted to cultivation in the province of Verona and listed in the National Register of Vine Varieties approved by Ministerial Decree dated May 7, 2004 (OG n. 242 of October 14, 2004) and subsequent updates (Annex 1), up to a maximum of 15%, with a maximum limit of 10% for each individual grape variety.

classified as autochthonous Italian in accordance with Law n. 82/06, art. 2, red berry, admitted to the cultivation for the cultivation for the Province of Verona in the National Register of Vine Varieties approved by Ministerial with Ministerial Decree of May 7, 2004 (OG n. 242 of October 14, 2004) and subsequent updates (attachment 1), for the remaining 10% total quantity.

 

Amarone della Valpolicella: the grapes

The previous paragraph gave us the opportunity to introduce a very important subject, about the renowned Amarone della Valpolicella. It is about its blends. We have seen from the disciplinary that the allowed grapes are: Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. To these are also added Oseleta and Negrara.

The blend is the base of the wine, therefore the grapes must have specific characteristics in order to be considered worthy of being used for the production of Amarone.

 

Corvina grapesCorvina: the autochthonous black berry of Verona

Corvina is one of the grapes used in the production of Amarone della Valpolicella. The percentages can vary, according to the disciplinary, between 45% and 95%. It is a prestigious black berried grape native to Verona. It is also the fundamental base of many other renowned wines, such as Recioto della Valpolicella. There are also productions with Corvina Veronese only (such as the famous Corvina Veronese of Fratelli Vogadori), which are not however included in Valpolicella’s disciplinary and are IGT.

As far as the phenology of Corvina is concerned, we can say that it is a late budding and medium-late ripening variety (end of September-beginning of October). It has a constant productivity and a high pruinosity. The berry is medium-sized, ellipsoidal in shape, with a thick and consistent skin, blue-black in color, very pruinose. The best form of cultivation for this vine is undoubtedly the Veronese pergola.

The origins of this vine are still unknown. The only certain thing is that they are very ancient, because the first news about its cultivation in Valpolicella, date back to 1824. At least this is what is testified by Pollini of that year. It is undoubtedly a grape variety connected to the Veronese viticulture since ancient times, as it is the main blend of Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto.

Corvinone

Uva Corvinone
Corvnone grapes

Also in this case we are dealing with a black grape variety native to Verona which is used in the production of Amarone della Valpolicella. As it is stated in the disciplinary, the use is optional and complementary in the maximum extent of 50% in substitution of Corvina. In the past it was often confused with Corvina and it has achieved independence only recently.

From a phenological point of view it is not very different from Corvina. Late budding and medium-late ripening (end of September-beginning of October). Also in this case the production is good and constant. The berry is large, ellipsoidal, while the skin is thick and consistent dark blue, and very pruinose.

In history there are no traces of Corvinone, because in the past it was often confused with Corvina, so much so that until 1993, it was considered a clone of Corvina itself. Only recently, thanks to genetic analysis techniques, it has been demonstrated that Corvina and Corvinone are two different and independent grapes.

 

Rondinella grapes
Rondinella grapes

Rondinella

Not to repeat myself, but Rondinella is also a black berried grape native to the Verona area. It has a strong sugar capacity and for this reason it is considered ideal to be used for the the production of Recioto della Valpolicella. Rondinella is used in a complementary way, in the measure of 5% to 30%, in the production of the well known Amarone. It is a variety with medium budding and medium-late ripening (end of September – beginning of October), with good vigor. It presents a spheroidal berry, of medium size, with a very pruinose black-purple skin.

It is thought that Rondinella is a variety arrived in the Valpolicella area in the nineteenth century. Its name seems to derive from the color of its skin which recalls the livery of swallows.

 

OseletaUva oseleta

Even though not expressly provided for in the disciplinary, Oseleta is a blend used for Recioto and Amarone della Valpolicella. It has very ancient origins and it is a grape variety widely spread in the area of Valpolicella and Monti Lessini. The name derives from a dialectal term “osei“, which in Venetian language means “birds“. It seems, in fact, that this grape was particularly appreciated by birds.

It is likely this vine is the result of the domestication of local wild grapes. Its scarce productivity had made it of little interest. Rediscovered by viticulturists in the seventies, it is now very appreciated and used in the production of local wines. It owes its success to its small and squat bunches, with small berries, suitable for producing concentrated wines. It is perhaps the most coloring vine of the whole province of Verona.

It has a low yield and the bunch is compact, short and cylindrical. The berry is medium-sized and obovoid in shape, with a thick, consistent, blue-black skin.

 

Negrara

This is also a black berried grape used in the production of Amarone, even though it is not directly mentioned in the disciplinary. In the past it was a very common vine, but its production had a decreasing trend for most of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first century.

The family to which it belongs is the wider family of Negrare, vines which are different from each other and cultivated above all in Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige. It has a large, elongated, pyramid-shaped bunch, winged and fairly compact. The berry is large, spherical in shape, not very regular, with a very pruinose, blue-violet skin. The skin is thick and leathery, while the pulp is juicy, with a simple and colorless taste.

This is also a black berried grape used in the production of Amarone, even though it is not directly mentioned in the disciplinary. In the past it was a very common vine, but its production had a decreasing trend for most of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first century.

The family to which it belongs is the wider family of Negrare, vines which are different from each other and cultivated above all in Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige. It has a large, elongated, pyramid-shaped bunch, winged and fairly compact. The berry is large, spherical in shape, not very regular, with a very pruinose, blue-violet skin. The skin is thick and leathery, while the pulp is juicy, with a simple and colorless taste.

Amarone della Valpolicella: vinification

Let’s now move on to the actual production of Amarone. The grapes are harvested by hand in the month of September. They are left to dry, in a completely natural way, in special wooden boxes. This process is called appassimento, a very ancient technique, known and used in Italy since the times of Romans (first century BC), for the production of passito wines, but not only.

Drying consists in letting grapes, which are already ripe, to dry. In this way berries lose most of the water they contain, whereas the other juices are concentrated to the maximum. There are many drying techniques, such as the one which allows the grapes to dry directly on the plant, twisting the stalk in order to block the flow of sap. But the drying process in Valpolicella is done in a sheltered environment, inside a well ventilated room and by placing the ripe grapes harvested on boxes, mats or wooden racks. These allow the recirculation of air among the bunches. The rooms used for the drying of grapes are called “fruttai“.

This technique works in a very natural way on the dehydration of grapes. Water evaporates and sugars concentrate and accumulate. It is therefore said grapes are overripe in order to concentrate sugars, organic acids, mineral salts and aromas in the berries. However everything starts from grapes. The grape selected for the appassimento of Amarone must be perfect, only in this way it is sure to get a perfect dry red raisin wine.

 

Amarone della Valpolicella: fermentation

Alcoholic fermentation is an energy metabolism. This takes place in the absence of oxygen in certain yeasts. It takes place in two phases. In the first one yeast breaks down complex sugars (such as sucrose), whereas in the second one ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is formed from simple sugars (such as fructose).

In the alcoholic fermentation of wine, the first phase is absent. This is because in grapes is already present fructose and therefore microorganisms do not need to form it from complex sugars, such as sucrose.

The phase of alcoholic fermentation is the one which differentiates Amarone della Valpolicella from Recioto. In practice, in Amarone all the sugar, created during the drying process, is transformed into alcohol. The result is a structured, firm and tannic wine.

In Recioto, on the other hand, fermentation is deliberately interrupted in the middle. This is because, by doing so, a dessert wine is obtained, with a good sugar concentration and with very fine aromas.

The fermentation of Amarone takes place in steel containers and only natural yeasts, contained in the grapes, are used. During the day, the cap is broken several times. During fermentation a lot of carbon dioxide is generated. This pushes the solid residues of the grapes, such as stems, skins and seeds, towards the top of the fermenting must. This mass which forms on the surface is therefore called “cappello” and must be frequently broken and stirred. In Amarone this happens every day, for at least 50 consecutive days, or at least until the end of fermentation. By doing this, the oxidation of grapes is avoided and the best extraction of the substances contained in the grapes is obtained.

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Amarone della Valpolicella: wine aging

At the end of fermentation, must has become wine. However it is not a complete product. Sugars have been transformed into alcohol by yeasts and secondary aromas, characteristic of post-fermentation, have already emerged. It is, however, still an immature wine, recognizable, but still to be defined and polished. It is not completely balanced and acidity and tannins are unbalanced and marked.

At this point only time can improve its quality and modify its sharpness, making it ready for consumption and sale. The time that elapses between the end of the aging process and bottling is called maturation.

 

Wine aging

Maturation of the wine is in continuous evolution and it also continues in bottle, before and after release. The aging of Amarone is done in French barriques of 225 liters, for about 24 months. It then continues in bottle for about 12 months. The aging in wood leads to a sensorial improvement of the product, to a superb, progressive and natural stability and to an improvement of many aspects, such as: clarity, color, reduction of the microbial load, improvement of the colloidal complex, inertia towards cloudiness of various types.

Barriques are perfect containers for this purpose.

 

Organoleptic examination

Organoleptic examination corresponds to the sensorial perceptions perceived by sense organs such as smell, taste, color and consistency. The sensorial evaluation of a food, in this case wine, is based on the capacity of estimating and judging it, by giving it a grade as a consequence of gustatory parameters originated during the examination itself.

Organoleptic examination is made of three different evaluation phases

  • visual
  • olfactory
  • gustatory

During the visual evaluation the wine is observed and its color, nuances, chromatic effect and pleasantness in the matching of colors are evaluated.

In the olfactory phase are evaluated the aromas emanated by the wine. Primary aromas (immediately perceived) and secondary aromas (which are perceived afterwards) are identified.

Finally, in the last phase, the gustatory one, is evaluated: pleasantness, firmness, sapidity, sweetness, acidity and the whole of the various tastes and sensations the wine is able to transmit. The final evaluation is about the aromatic persistence the wine leaves in the mouth once it is swallowed.

By saying this, Amarone della Valpolicella is a wine having an intense ruby red color, with aromas of remarkable finesse and perfectly blended. Cherry, vanilla, chocolate, spices, dried flowers and tobacco are perceived. Mouth of remarkable elegance immediately warm and enveloping, with ripe fruit and at the same time refreshing. Remarkable length, persistence and good acidity.

Food and wine pairing

The final goal of the tasting is to find the perfect match between food and wine. Food offers a determined sensorial spectrum which includes: sweetness, sapidity, spiciness, acidity, bitterness, succulence, fatness and unctuousness. In wines, on the other hand, at a gustatory level, the most important sensations are: sapidity, crispness, acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin, structure (body of the wine) and smoothness.

Amarone, being a particularly smooth wine, perfectly matches with winter and spicy dishes. Perfect with big roasts, game, game of noble hair, braised or traditional meat dishes, stews and aged cheeses (accompanied by jams and mustards) or spicy, baked lasagna, gnocchi with cheese and bigoli with duck sauce. Ideal as meditation wine.

Before tasting it is suggested to open it at least one hour before, up to many hours before in case of wines aged for a long time, or that have spent a long time in cellar. In this case, the day before the opening, it would be better to verticalize the bottle. As for the choice of the serving glass, it is better to use a large glass with a wide light, in order to allow aromas and flavors to spread as freely as possible. The serving temperature varies between 18° and 20° C (64° and 68° F).

recioto della Valpolicella
recioto della Valpolicella

Recioto della Valpolicella

Let’s now examine history and characteristics of the other great red wine of Valpolicella: Recioto. Recioto is a sweet DOCG red raisin wine from Veneto, exclusively produced in Valpolicella. The grapes used for its production are: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and, in smaller percentages, also Negrara and Oseleta. Molinara, another great grape of the area, has recently been excluded from the disciplinary, however it is still allowed. Basically, these are the same grapes used to make Amarone.

Recioto della Valpolicella Disciplinare

To make Recioto wine are used only the ripe and scattered bunches, called “Recie“, from which the name Recioto, which seems to have its roots in an ancient past (it derives from the Latin “recis”, bunches). In fact, in the past, were used those parts of the bunch in lateral positions, the wings, which were designated with the dialectal term “Recie” (which in Venetian dialect means “ears“), or the tips.

As time went by, its disciplinary was also defined and, in article 2, it mentions in detail the blends allowed for its production:

“1) The wines of the controlled and guaranteed denomination of origin “Recioto della Valpolicella” must be obtained from grapes produced in vineyards having, within the winery, the following ampelographic composition:

– Corvina Veronese (Cruina or Corvina) from 45% to 95%; it is however allowed in this area the

however it is allowed the presence of Corvinone in the maximum measure of 50%, in substitution of an equal percentage of Corvina;

Rondinella from 5% to 30%.

The following grapes can be used for the production of these wines, up to a maximum of 25% of total production coming from vines

non-aromatic red grapes, admitted to cultivation in the province of Verona and listed in the

National Register of Vine Varieties approved by Ministerial Decree dated May 7, 2004 (OG n. 242 of October 14, 2004) and subsequent updates (Annex 1).

2004) and subsequent updates (Annex 1), up to a maximum of 15%, with a maximum limit of 10% for each individual grape variety.

maximum limit of 10% for each individual vine variety used;

– classified as autochthonous Italian in accordance with Law n. 82/06, art. 2, red berry, admitted to the cultivation for the

cultivation for the Province of Verona in the National Register of Vine Varieties approved by Ministerial

with Ministerial Decree of May 7, 2004 (OG n. 242 of October 14, 2004) and subsequent updates (attachment 1),

for the remaining 10% total quantity.

The history

Precursor of Amarone, it has a strange and very interesting history. Its origins are really very ancient. The first traces date back to the fourth century AD. Casiodoro described Acinatico as a sweet wine: “royal in color… dense and fleshy“, obtained by a special technique of drying grapes. For this reason it is considered the ancestor of the current Recioto.

San Zeno, at that time Bishop of Verona, portrayed in the mark of “Recioto della Valpolicella” Doc, spoke to the farmers saying: “sun that makes wine” and invited them to keep the wines for long periods in barrels, so that, as they aged, they could improve.

In the ninth and tenth centuries viticulture was already widely spread in Valpolicella. The first ones to get interested in the cultivation and care of vine were monks and abbots. Among the many varieties cultivated, there were already those used in the production of Recioto.

At that time there were already some rules that regulated the harvesting and the production of wine. Rules established by Albertini (Statutes of Alberto I della Scala, dated 1276). These regulations established the retail sale of the beverage, as well as the transportation of grapes and wine in the city. Even the period of harvesting was fixed by common agreement, in fact it was forbidden to anyone to anticipate the time of harvesting and mashing. It was also forbidden, after harvesting, to keep grapes at home. This last habit, however, was in contrast with some production methods of Recioto and, for this reason, it was not followed or supported by viticulturists and wine makers.

The first ampelographic cataloguing of Recioto took place in the nineteenth century. In this period was identified Corvina as a typical cultivar of Valpolicella. The first disciplinary of Recioto was done only in 1968, when it was also recognized as a DOC wine. Whereas Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG wine obtained the recognition of Denominazione di Origine Controllata on March 24, 2010.

Recioto Appassimento

The best grapes are still selected by hand. Once harvested, they are placed in wooden crates, or on racks made of the same material, which allow a good air circulation in order to avoid mold. The drying process lasts at least until January-February and it is always done in dry and well ventilated rooms, with periodical controls on the health of the grapes. The time of pressing varies according to the vintage and can go from the end of January to the beginning of February.

Vinification

Before being subjected to the pressing for the subsequent vinification process, bunches of grapes are checked again, eliminating possible parts which got moldy during their storage.

Fermentation, which takes place during the vinification process, is done in specific steel containers and follows the natural method. The whole process takes place in dedicated rooms with controlled temperature. Just like Amarone della Valpolicella, Recioto requires the breaking of the cap of must several times during the same day. This procedure is repeated daily for 40 days.

The difference between Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto is in the fermentation process. The production process, in fact, is the same for both wines, but it differs in the final part. In the production of Recioto, when sugars are transformed into alcohol, during fermentation, the process is deliberately interrupted. In this way it is possible to obtain a sweeter wine, with a deep garnet red color and a very fine bouquet.

 

appassimento
appassimento

Recioto della Valpolicella: organoleptic examination

The organoleptic examination of Recioto is very complex, as it is one of the most ancient sweet wines produced in Italy. In fact, there are those who say Recioto even derives from Rhaetian wine, that is the one produced by the people of Celtic origin who lived in Valpolicella, at the time of Romans.

Produced in the winter season, it has a slow and long fermentation, also due to low temperatures. It is during fermentation that the wine acquires colors, aromas and structure. It is obtained by interrupting the fermentation when the residual sugars have a concentration around 12% and an alcoholic value around 13°-14°.

What is obtained is a red raisin wine with a great structure, whose bottles should be opened at least one hour before consumption. It should be served pretty cool, with a serving temperature of about 15° C (59° F). It should be served in a long stem dessert wine glass. Recioto has very different sensations compared to any other sweet wine. It is sweet, but with a slightly astringent note, due to tannins and polyphenols.

It shows a beautiful deep garnet red color, with aromas of remarkable finesse. The nose is marmellated and spirited, with excellent complexity. The background is very open and persistent. In the mouth it is exquisitely balanced, with distinct hints of ripe fruit and black cherry. Mouthfeel of remarkable elegance immediately warm and enveloping, with ripe fruit and at the same time refreshing. Remarkable length and persistence.

Recioto: food and wine pairing

The plus of this fine wine is the capacity to combine the best characteristics of an important red wine with those of a raisin wine of great complexity and elegance. It can be matched with fruit tarts, chocolate desserts, traditional dry pastries and spoon desserts. It is also excellent to be matched with seasoned cheese, aged for more than 9 months, or blue cheese, accompanied by jams and mostarda.

Rosè Wine

Among the great products of Valpolicella there are not only Recioto and Amarone della Valpolicella. It is good to remember also the sublime rose wines, such as Molinara Rosato – Rosè Wine. It is a crisp and mineral wine, suited for summertime. The ideal serving temperature is between 11 and 16° C and it goes very well with delicate dishes, fish and soups.

The grape used to make this wine is the Molinara, once also present in the disciplinary of Amarone della Valpolicella, today only optional. Fermentation, in this case, is done only with the must without skins, or better to say, skins remain in contact with the must, only for a short period of time.

It is thanks to skins, in fact, that wine gets its characteristic red color. In case skins are not allowed to get in contact with must, the color will be more tenuous, more pink, in fact. During fermentation, when must is transformed into wine, natural yeasts change sugars into alcohol, developing carbon dioxide and heat. While fermentation is taking place, polyphenols change as well. These are natural chemical compounds present in grapes and stems. They are mainly concentrated in skins and seeds. From them depend the organoleptic characteristics of wine: color, smell and taste. Temperature and oxygen modify, at molecular level, polyphenols which, by combining with other phenols, polysaccharides and proteins, form more complex and structured molecules.

From them also depends the color, because they are capable of making pigments change, from which the final color of wine is derived. In case of rose wine, therefore, when the must is fermenting without skins, the liquid is not tinged with dark red, it is only stained with a light pinkish nuance.

Molinara

Molinara vine is an autochthonous vine of Valpolicella. Its origins are uncertain. The name seems to derive from the dialect term “Mulinara“, which means “mill“. This is because Molinara grapes are very pruinose, so much so that they almost seem to be covered by a thin layer of mill flour.

It has been cultivated in the Valpantena and the Valle d’Illasi since 1800. In some areas it is also called: “Rossara” or “Rossanella” as in the Garda area, or as “Brepon” in Valpantena and many times also called “Ua salà” (salty grape, because of its savory flavor). It is a black grape variety, with an averagely compact, sparse, pyramidal bunch. It presents berries of medium size, ellipsoidal, with very pruinose, thick and dark red-violet skin.

 

spumante brut
spumante brut

Spumante brut

Valpolicella is also known for the production of many excellent sparkling wines. In this category are included sparkling wines, which in turn include many types of wines, including champagne. Sparkling wine has the peculiarity of having a strong effervescence which causes foam when bottles are opened. According to what is set by the European Union, a spumante wine, in order to be defined as such, must have an overpressure not lower than 3.5 bar at a room temperature of 20°.

There are many types of sparkling wines classified according to the quantity of grams of sugar per liter:

  1. Extra Brut 0 – 6 g/l
  2. Brut 6 – 12 g/l
  3. Extra Dry 12 – 17 g/l
  4. Dry 17 – 32 g/l

In Vogadori‘s Brut Spumante wine there is a residual sugar of 10 grams per liter. This product is produced with excellent Garganega grapes. Concerning its organoleptic examination we can say it visually shows a beautiful straw yellow color, brilliant, with a very thin and persistent perlage. The nose is fragrant with notes of white fruits. Clear hints of butter and bread crust. The fruity tone, composite and complex, is completed by hints of pineapple and lemon. In mouth is smooth, velvety, refreshing and with a solid body. Final definitely persistent.

It is an ideal sparkling wine to be matched with seafood, shellfish, sauteed white meat and rabbit with herbs. Also perfect as aperitif wine.

 

Grappa Amarone

grappa di amarone
grappa di amarone

In Valpolicella is not only produced excellent wine, but also grappa. Grappa is a grape pomace brandy which is obtained from grapes produced and vinified exclusively in Italy. Grappa Amarone is one of them, obtained from the pomace of Amarone della Valpolicella. Pomace is what is left from a grape after the pulp has been removed. In top quality grappas, before distillation, seeds and stems are eliminated.

Community law has recognized the term “grappa” to be used exclusively by the member state Italy. This means that “grappa” is a protected geographical indication, a protected appellation. No other state can use this terminology.

The law states the alcohol content of a grappa cannot be lower than 37.5% by volume, whereas there is no maximum limit.

Grappa can be classified according to the aging process and/or the processes that follow the distillation process. Therefore we have grappa

  • Young
  • Aromatic
  • Aged
  • Aged Reserve
  • Aromatic

In case, for example, of Grappa of Amarone Barrique, the term is used to indicate a grappa aged at least half of the time in 225 liters barrique and under customs control. It is a truly prestigious distillate, obtained by distilling the pomace of Amarone della Valpolicella. It is a product which has been produced since ancient times and it is also known as Grappa Barrique. Barrique grappa is a white grappa aged for two years in oak casks, in this way it gets a beautiful golden color and becomes much smoother and rounder.

Grappa di Amarone Forlago is instead obtained by distilling the pomace of Forlago, therefore only in the best vintages. It is aged for more than six years in French oak casks in order to become very smooth. It is a grappa for connoisseurs, for meditation.

 

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