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Understanding Valpolicella and Amarone

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Valpolicella is a wine-producing region in Italy combining traditional techniques with the variable geography of the Verona province. Located between the Lessini Mountains and Lake Garda, Valpolicella’s landscape has a varying terrain – mountainous areas, hilly vineyards and fertile valley floors.

In 2020, this region boasted a large €600 million turnover, with a significant 70% of its wine exported to 87 countries, demonstrating its global appeal.

Valpolicella’s wine production uses diverse grape varieties, each contributing unique qualities to the final blends:

  • Corvina: The backbone of Valpolicella blends, known for adding structure, aromas and softness.
  • Corvinone: Offers spicy notes of morello cherry, enhancing aromatic complexity and structure.
  • Rondinella: Highly resistant to adverse weather and diseases, it contributes colour and flavour.
  • Molinara: A complementary native variety, adding freshness.
  • Others: Varieties like Oseleta, Croatina, Dindarella and Spigamonti also play a role.

Valpolicella has four main wine styles:

  • Valpolicella DOC: A younger wine with vinous aroma and a delicate bouquet. It’s fresh and vibrant, perfect with appetisers, light courses and white meats.
  • Valpolicella Ripasso DOC: Medium-bodied with higher alcohol content, gained from refermentation on the remains of Amarone or Recioto wines. Ideal with winter main courses, meat and medium-seasoned cheese.
  • Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG: The best of Valpolicella, this wine undergoes a unique drying process of grapes, resulting in a dry, high-alcohol content wine, excellent with meat, game, matured cheeses or standalone.
  • Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG: The sweet variant, ideal for desserts and cheeses, with a rich concentration of sugars and a balanced acidity.

Amarone and Recioto use the Appassimento technique. Grapes are specially selected and laid on traditional ‘Arele’ or modern crates in ‘fruttai’, well-ventilated rooms ideal for preserving the bunches. During this crucial phase, grapes lose 30%-50% of their weight, undergoing complex transformations that give the wines their distinctive richness, aromas and flavours.

Read about ‘Amarone Calling‘, the Valpolicella and Amarone wine tasting.