Valpolicella- the land of many cellars and the new Wines of Verona

Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 07:30 PM

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“I have lived temperately, I double the doctor’s recommendation of a glass and a half of wine a day and even treble it with a friend.”

― Thomas Jefferson



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We have our big Amarone tasting coming up on Friday April 6th with two of the big boys of the Valpolicella- Dal Forno Romano and Giuseppe Quintarelli… but for those of you that can’t make this “Once in Lifetime” tasting we have another tasting featuring the wines from this famous wine region of Italy at the Wine Watch Wine Bar on Thursday, April 5th with some great Amarone, Valpolicella and a few super Veronese wines.

Valpolicella, according to some accounts, means “valley of many cellars,” which seems fitting.  It is derived, they say, from the Greek word poli (many) and the Latin cella (cellar).   This area is approximately 27 miles long and 5 miles wide, it passes north and west of Verona, extending from the Adige River to the Cazzano Valley.  Bardolino and Lake Garda lie to the west and Soave to the east.  The land ranges in altitude from 490 to 1,475 feet above sea level.  The vines in the classico district to the northwest of Verona, are planted on the hillsides and mountain slopes of the valleys of the Adige tributaries and the Fumane, Marano, and Negrar torrents.  Some of the vineyards are terraced with stone.  The cretaceous, calcareous soil is of glacial origins.  And volcanic activity in this area contributed elements to the soil as well.  

The area around Sant’Ambrogio is considered the heart of the Amarone production zone.  Within this area, northeast of Gargagnago, is a valley called Vaio Armaron, which may have given the wine its name.   The blend of grapes typically used in Valpolicella is Corvina (40%-70%), Rondinella (20%-40%), Molinara (5%-25%) and may contain up to 15% Negrara Trentina, Rossignola, Dindarella, Barbera, and/or Sangiovese.  Before 1989 producers were allowed to add as much as 15% of grapes, must, or wine from outside the zone to correct problems from a weak vintage, but this practice is prohibited today.  Corvina contributes color, body, bouquet, flavor, and the basic Valpolicella character to the wine.   Rondinella, which is resistant to disease and rot, is added for its color and strength, tannin and vigor, it also adds some refinement to the azromas.  Molinara, or Mulinara, is also known as Rossara Veronese and Rossanella, is blended in to make the wine lighter and more drinkable.  It also contributes dryness and acidity, as well as that characteristic bitterness.  Negrara, adds softness, freshness and early drinkability.

The first dry Amarone, according to writer Cesare Marchi, was the result of a fortunate accident.  In the early 1950s, Adelino Lucchese, Bertani’s cellarmaster, discovered a barrel of wine in the cellar that had been overlooked and neglected for some time.  Certain that it had spoiled he was about to discard its contents, when curiosity prompted him to take a taste just to see what had happened.  He was astonished to discover that the forgotten wine had a velvety texture and a penetrating perfume, a slightly bitter taste, but not at all unpleasant. 

There is however evidence that the Romans made a type of bitter Recioto for diabetics or other people who couldn’t take sugar.  Sandro Boscaini of Masi pointed out that some of the oldest families in Valpolicella, the Count Campostrini and Count Serego Alighieri, as well as his own produced an Amaro, a dry Recioto.  This would seem to indicate that Amarone is considerably older that Marchi admits.  According to another book called Valpolicella Spolendida Contea Dei Vino, written by Lamberto Paronetto, the name Amarone has been in use since the eighteenth century.  It became popular at the beginning of this century and the name could very well be derived from the Italian word amaro, meaning “bitter” (scholar Scipione Maffei, writing in the first half of the eighteenth century, refers to an amaro, a dry wine from the Valpolicella area), or it could come from Vajo Armaron, where some highly regarded Amarones have been produced for ages.


Valpolicella Wine Tasting at Wine Watch Wine Bar
Thursday, April 5th
Amarone della Valpolicella DOC

Marchesi Biscardo Amarone della Valpolicella 2013
Price: $60.00       Sale $52.80

Very deep garnet-red with bright orange highlights. The nose is highly refined, starting from spicy, earthy aromas to the ripe, deep cherry, cassis and prune flavours. On the palate, a combination of power and complexity in a formidable full-bodied style. It recalls leather and chocolate that echoes through the finish, accented by orange peel.


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Marchesi Biscardo Valpolicella Ripasso 2014
Price: $24.00       Sale $21.12

The wine is ruby-red with orange highlights. Elegant and complex on the nose, it shows ripe berry and flowers. Full-bodied and soft, with lovely velvety tannins and a long finish. A perfect complement to highly seasoned first courses as well as roasted meats or steak.


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2015 Remo Farina Montecorna Valpolicella Ripasso Classico
Price: $24.75       Sale $21.78

Its color is intense granite-red with orange edges. It has a scent of spices like vanilla, pepper, ginger, prunes, marmalade, black cherries, leather and toasted coffee.

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2014 Remo Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Price: $47.25       Sale $41.58

Superbe wine, pride of Valpolicella Classica, born from the careful selection of grapes dried in the typical fruit drying sheds for about 4 months. The meticulous care of the grapes during the drying and the right maturation first in barriques and then in Slavonian oak barrels, develop complexity of scents and flavors. Elegant, smooth, balanced, it expresses tradition, terroir and passion.

Ruby red color with garnet tinges. Ethereal, spicy, with cherry hints, sour cherry, raspberry, currant in alcohol, cocoa and balsamic notes. In the mouth is warm, full, of great structure, fine and balanced.




Price: $17.25       Sale $15.18

The wine is a lovely ruby red color. Aromas of red fruit and cherries. The flavors are slightly sweetish, soft yet powerful, fresh, and full-flavored with a trace of tannin and a spicy aftertaste.




Price: $15.25       Sale $13.42

A bend of 55% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Brilliant ruby in color, Alanera delights the senses with a variety of aromas and flavors that include fresh and dried cherries and prunes, sweet spice, and hints of coffee and tobacco. On the palate, Alanera is full-bodied with elegant and velvety tannins. Vibrant acidity brings balance and freshness, and supports a long and harmonious finish. Pair with: medium-aged cheeses, cured meats, meaty fish such as sea bass fillet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or with braised meats and stews.

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Price: $34.25       Sale $30.14

this elegant and complex valpolicella continues the family tradition of the Ripasso method, used in the 1850s. The style is a consistent expression of the indigenous Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone grapes and terroir of the area. The Ripasso method is delicately achieved conducting a secondary extended maceration and fermentation over the Amarone grape skins, giving the wine higher complexity, bolder and softer body, and intense color.

With notes reminiscent of the Amarone, the wine is a vivid ruby red color. At the nose, intense hints of cherry, blueberry, licorice and lingering accents of cinnamon and pepper. At the palate, soft and warm structured velvet tannins and a very balanced acidity. Long finish with fruity sensations.

Amarone Classico della Valpolicella

TENUTA SANTA MARIA AMARONE 2011                  
Price: $78.00       Sale $68.64

the amarone is obtained using the traditional appassimento method, a natural drying process of Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone grapes, and long barrel aging, giving it a unique and immediately recognizable taste. It represents the full expression of the Veronese tradition and the more than century-old family heritage.

The wine has a ruby red color with garnet reflections. The impact of preserved cherry, spices, and dried rose petal lend complexity and elegance to the nose. To the palate, it has warmth and subtlety, well-structured and with a high alcohol content, balanced by velvety tannins and an elegant acidity and freshness.

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Price: $49.25       Sale $42.46

(93 Points) Very deep ruby. Aromas and flavors of coffee and cocoa complement red cherry and dark plum nuances. Smooth and dense with hints of raisins and figs macerated in alcohol emerge with aeration on the long smooth finish. Easygoing yet very concentrated Amarone that boasts noteworthy purità. My guess is this will be ready to drink sooner than most other 2013 Amarones. Spends two years in oak and clocks in at only 14.5% alcohol, which is positively weak for a modern-day Amarone. Vinous


Price: $64.25       Sale $56.54

Zenato Amarone is a blend of Corvina and Rondinella, with a touch of Croatina and Oseleta. Corvina is prized not only for its intense marasca cherry flavor, but also its ability to withstand the drying process.  Used in small quantities Rondinella also fares well in drying, and contributes dark color and an alluring floral note.  Oseleta provides tannic structure and minerality; while Croatina is introduced to add youthful fruitiness. All this attention to detail pays off in a wine that is immediately approachable yet unmistakably ageworthy.


Republic National
Sartori Bardolino Chiaretto
Price: $18.00       Sale $15.84

A rose wine made from 40% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, 10% Merlot, 10% Corvinone, 10% Molinara.  Soft blush in color. Bouquet: Delicate fruit aromas. Taste: Fresh with bright fruit flavors, supple and balanced.
Sartori Ferdi Garganega white wine bottle from Soave Classico Veneto Italy
Sartori Ferdi 
Price: $17.25       Sale $15.18

This is a very unique white made with 100% Garganega.  Select hand-picked grapes are dried for 40 days to reduce water and concentrate sugar content and color. The grapes are then pressed, followed by short skin maceration at a low temperature. Part of the must is fermented in oak casks; the remainder, in stainless steel. The wine then matures on its lees for 6 to 7 months for added mouthfeel, flavor, and intensity. A minimum of 4 months bottle refinement follows.Light gold. Bouquet: Aromas of pears and apricots with subtle floral notes. Taste: Rich, dry, and flavorful on the palate, with a long finish.
Sartori Regolo Corvina red wine bottle from Veneto Italy


Sartori Regolo 2014
Price: $23.00       Sale $20.24

Though made entirely from Corvina Veronese, the most prized grape of Valpolicella, and grown in the mandated area, Regolo cannot be labeled Valpolicella because Sartori uses the ripasso method — combining the wine with the lees of the prior year’s Amarone, adding yeast and starting another fermentation — which is prohibited by DOC regulations. The second fermentation runs for about three weeks and creates an extra percent of alcohol and, more importantly, much more flavor. Think of it like a Valpolicella on steroids. Andrea Sartori emphasizes that you must use “wet” lees that contain some residual sugar to nourish the yeast. Otherwise, the method is akin to using a tea bag twice.

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Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio/Verduzzo 2016
Price: $15.50       Sale $13.64

Bright straw yellow with golden reflections. Fresh and elegant on the nose with hints of ripe peaches and tropical fruit combined with delicate touches of honey and vanilla. Elegant and well balanced on the palate: the Pinot Grigio grapes give it freshness and lively acidity, while the lightly-dried Verduzzo grapes give structure and complexity. Long and intense on the finish.
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Masi Campofiorin  2014
Price: $17.50       Sale $15.40

70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara.  With an intense, ruby-red color and violet traces, the wine shows generous, ripe aromas of plum and cherry jam, with hints of spice. Bold and rich flavors of bitter cherries and berry fruits stand out on the palate, with good acidity, balance and velvety tannins.
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Masi Brolo di Campofiorin Oro 2013
Price: $28.25       Sale $24.86

(91 Points) A good value wine, the 2013 Brolo Campofiorin Oro opens to a velvety dark appearance and shows thick layers of dried fruit, prune, spice and leather. The intensity is strong, yet it remains a clear step below Amarone in terms of power and muscle. This vintage offers good structure at the back with light touches of sweet and sun-dried fruit. This is a great wine to pair with barbecued meat.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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Masi Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella 2012
Price: $57.75       Sale $50.82

(92 Points)  The Masi 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera is a plump and rich wine that portrays the opulent characteristics of this hot vintage. Dark blackberry is followed by sweet tobacco, baking spice, tar or resin. This beautiful Amarone glides smoothly over the palate imparting dense extraction and dark fruit flavors along the way. The wine has the natural constitution to hold strong for the next decade.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate



Arancini served over Smoky Tomato Sauce

Blue Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Figs with Balsamic Drizzle

Short Rib Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Reggiano Parmesan

Seared Tuna Nicoise on Crostini with roasted peppers and Olive Tapenade

The fee for this tasting in $55+ tax+ Gratuity for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail