Mofo guide to | Valpolicella
Valpolicella. Just the name alone conjures up images of rolling hills, rich soils, and some of the best wine in all of Italy. And as people who are scouring the world in search of good times and good wine only, we think Valpolicella is definitely worth the trip - even if from the comfort of your sofa. Here’s what you’ll be finding in your glass if you’re keen to take a sip of what the region has to offer.
Valpolicella is smack bang between Verona and Lake Garda and has a moderate climate, with short dry summers. The best vineyards are primarily located on hillsides, allowing grapes to ripen whilst preserving acidity, and there’s also vineyards in the flatter south of the region that typically produces grapes that are more fruity, but with less of that acidity needed for a great wine.
Corvina is the chief mofo grown in these parts, but the wines of Valpolicella usually bring in a blend of local natives (such as Rondinella, and Molinara) to bring a boost of colour and tannin, which corvina lacks when fermented on its lonesome.
There’s a few main styles of wine you’ll find on labels coming out of Valpolicella, each bringing something different to the table.
Valpolicella & Valpolicella Classico
These two mofos are the most commonly produced wines in the region, typically good value light-bodied reds with associated cherry-red flavours, leaning more towards the tart-side of the spectrum. The “Classico” designation simply means that the fruit has been sourced from those foothills, rather than the flatter regions, so will tend to carry a little more acidity. These are your guzzlers - rarely oaked, light in tannin, and ready to go straight after release.
Pair it with: Any bright tomato-based Italian fare, but we’re picking a classic(o) bowl of meatballs in tomato sauce (Polpette al Sugo).
Amarone della Valpolicella
Amarone is made using a technique the region is famed for - appassimento - where the grapes are picked early and left to dry on racks, concentrating those flavours and locking in the acidity too. Amarone is full-bodied, mostly dry or off-dry, with a generous alcohol to boot (over 15% is typical). They’re renowned for their intense bold, red fruits, chocolate, and spice notes - Barossa shiraz lovers, this one's for you.
Pair it with: Does everything that a classic Barossa shiraz does well and more - pair it to blue cheese or steak, or loosen your waistband and do both, if you’d prefer.
Check out: Luciano Arduini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2019
Valpolicella Ripasso - conveniently named after the ripasso technique winemakers use for it - is where the skins from an almost completed Amarone ferment are added to a completely fermented batch of Valpolicella. The yeast on the skins from the Amarone ferment continue to ferment the remaining sugar on the skins, infusing the Valpolicella with more tannin, colour and flavours of cooked cherry and plum. You can find some excellent value here, with wines of a character similar to Amarone but without the comparative price tag.
Pair it with: A classic mushroom risotto.
Check out: Luciano Arduini Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2020
Recioto della Valpolicella
Recioto della Valpolicella is a sweet dessert wine made using the same process as Amarone but with a higher sugar content (so high, in fact, that the yeast gets so full that fermentation stops naturally), and is similarly full-bodied and full of concentrated red fruits. Think along the lines of a ruby port, but with slightly lower alcohol.
Pair with: A big old aged-cheese board.
There’s your whistle stop tour of the region, its wines and winemaking. All that’s left now is to check out the latest we’ve sourced from our travels - click here to see the range.