After my stay in Chioggia, I drove east to spend a few days in the Valpolicella wine district. Valpolicella is part of the Veneto region of Italy and is about an hour’s drive east of Venice and directly north of the city of Verona. It’s a large area with Soave on the eastern border and Lake Gardo on the western one.
It’s a DOC with the sub districts of Valpantena and Classico. Valpolicella is a blended wine made with Corvina, Corvanone, Rondenella and Molinara with Corvina and Corvanone making up the bulk of the blend.
The most famous wine coming out of that area would be Amarone. It’s a Valpolicella made in the Passito method in which the grapes are laid out on mats to dry prior to fermentation which concentrates the sugars and flavors.
Amarone is at the top of the pyramid but the progression of wine styles goes like this. Wines designated as Classico are newly bottle wines with minimal aging. The are light in color, young and fresh and can be served with a slight chill on them. Next would be the Superiore which get a bump up in alcohol and some more aging. Next on the progression are the Ripasso wines. These wines are made through a second fermentation of the must used in the Passito of the Amarone wines. This adds body and color to the wines. The Amarone range from the basic Classico wines to various single vineyard bottlings.
My hotel was a 17th century villa converted to a B & B in the Classico region. Rolling hills dotted with Medieval towns. Thank God for Google Maps.
Cantina Spada Via Villa Giradi 26, San Pietro in Cariano
This was the first winery I visited shortly after checking in to my hotel and was a recommendation from the front desk. A family run operation in the heart of Valpolicella.
2021 Classico: Clear medium brick, roasted meat and toasted nuts on the nose, medium fruit with an bitter almond finish.
2018 Superiore: Opaque dark brick, roast meat and dark leather on the nose, dusty, almost sweet fruit, Asian spices and nicely balance with bitter almonds.
2019 Ripasso: Opaque dark brick, roasted meat on the nose, juicy, dark plums with some tart notes on the end.
2017 Amarone: Opaque medium brick, sweet perfume of leather, silky red licorice fruit, dark chocolate and bitter cherry on the finish. Some heat at the end.
Tomassi Family Estates Via Ronchetto 4, Pedemonte
Pretty much a well know label back in the US, they’ve been making wine since 1902. They let me take a self-guided tour of the very impressive wine cellar.
2019 Ripasso: Clear medium brick, big notes of mint on the nose, silky plums and red fruit, ark chocolate, chalk notes and some toast on the finish as well as some heat.
2018 Amarone: Clear medium red, sweet toast on the nose, bitter red cherry fruit and feeling the heat at the finish.
2013 Amarone Riserva “Ca Florian”: Opaque dark red, sweet perfume of violets, milk chocolate and mint, concentrated, thick with mint and black licorice fruit with dark chocolate and chalk notes on the finish.
Speri Viticoltori Via Fontana 14, San Pietro in Cariano
Another family run operation on its seventh generation.
2021 Classico: Clear light purple, crushed red fruit and earth on the nose, medium to light bodied juicy red fruit with moderate acids on the spicy finish.
2019 Superiore :St, Urban”: Opaque dark red, spicy cinnamon on the nose, tight red fruit ending with firm acids.
2020 Ripasso: Opaque medium red, closed nose of tree bark and spicy earth, spicy cherry fruit with crisp acids on the long finish.
20017 Amarone Classico “St. Urban”: Medium dark red, closed nose of dried herbs and chocolate, silky, concentrated fruit with bitter chocolate on the long finish. Nicely balanced.
Agricola Tedeschi Via Verdi 4/A, San Pietro in Cariano
Definitely not the new kid on the block, making wine since 1630. They graciously opened the tasting room for me and poured an extensive selection of their excellent wines.
2019 Superiore “Maternigo”: Light brick, red licorice and earth on the nose with silky red fruit and ending with spicy notes.
2019 Superiore Classico “La Fabriseria”: Opaque medium red, pretty perfume of spicy cigar box, silky red fruit with a bitter chocolate finish with crisp acids.
2019 Ripasso “Capitel San Rocco”: Clear medium red with a brick rim, barnyard and spicy potpourri on the nose, silky red licorice fruit with leather notes on the well-balanced finish.
2019 Amarone “Marne 180”: Opaque dark red, dark chocolate and chalk on the nose, chewy and firm red fruit with a long finish.
2016 Amarone Classico Riserva “Monte Olmi”: Opaque dark red with a brick rim, tar, black leather and sandlewood on the nose, concentrated black fruit, silky and elegant and nicely balanced.
Agricola Nicolis Via Villa Girardi 29, San Pietro in Cariano
And yet another family run operation.
2020 Classico: Medium purple, crushed red fruit and mint on the nose, dusty fruit with a bitter almond finish.
2019 Ripasso “Seccal”: Clear medium red, crushed rocks and red leather on the nose, dusty red fruit ending with mouth coating tannins.
2016 Amarone Classico: Opaque dark red, ripe, sweet, port like nose, ripe fruit with teeth coating tannins, dry finish.
2013 Amarone “Ambrosan”: Opaque dark red with a brick rim, toast and green wood on the nose, silky red fruit followed by mouth coating tannins.
Brunelli Winery Via Cariano 10, San Pietro in Cariano
Winery in the heart of the Classico subregion, their wine cellar has been around since 1700.
2018 Ripasso: Light brick, tar and leather on the nose, silky, dusty dark fruit, nicely balanced.
2018 Campo del Maestro: A blend of nine grapes, medium brick, sweet red fruit and black pepper on the nose, silky red fruit with roast meat and mushrooms notes, good grip and a long finish.
2019 Amarone Classico: Clear light red, sweet strawberry jam and smoke on the nose, tight, silky red fruit.
2017 Amarone Riserva “Campo Inferi”: Opaque brick, perfume of black cherry and black licorice, silky ripe fruit but not overly ripe, with red licorice notes on the finish.
Zyme Winery Via Ca’ del Pipa 1, San Pietro in Cariano
This is the outlier winey in the area, from the name which means “yeast” in Greek, to the circular elevator in the tasting room and the wines.
2018 Superiore: Opaque light brick, dried herbs on the nose, juicy red fruit with a nice balance.
2019 “Kairos”: A red blend made with 15! grape varietals. Clear medium red, juicy black licorice on the nose, juicy and chewy black fruit with some green notes on the finish.
2017 Amarone Classico: Clear medium brick, big toasty notes on the nose, juicy black leather fruit with a nice grip and balanced.
Ca La Bionda Via Bionda 4, Marano di Valpolicella
Very low key winery that was recommended to me by another winery, a drive up into the hills where the hospitable gentleman (owner?) sat down and gave me a private tasting.
2021 Classico: Clear light red, young red juicy fruit, a fresh wine with a nice grip.
2019 Superiore “Casalvegri”: Medium red with a pretty perfume of tar and leather, silky red fruit with a long and balanced finish.
2019 Ripasso “Malavoglia”: Clear medium to light red, black licorice and dried herbs on the nose, silky, medium red fruit with a great balance. Tasty wine.
2016 Amarone Classico: Opaque medium red, crush spicy red fruit on the nose, juicy, chocolate fruit with nice acidity at the end.