Get to Know Epic Amarone and Her Three Siblings
This week only!
Try all four styles of Valpolicella
If you love red wine and need to warm up, then visit Tria this week. We sincerely doubt that all four voluptuous Valpolicella variations have ever been offered by the glass in the same place at the same time. Until now.
Where Tria Cafe Rittenhouse + Wash West
When Tuesday 1/22 from 4 pm – Friday 1/25
Supplies are limited
One place, one blend, four wines. Discover Valpolicella.
Italy is the world's largest wine producer and is home to more grape varieties (officially more than 350!) than any other country spread over twenty diverse geographical and cultural regions. How should you, dear wine lover, make sense of Italian wine? By starting with the classics; the rest will follow. Of the many name-controlled Italian wines, four noble reds stand out: Barolo, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Amarone della Valpolicella. Here we focus on our favorite winter wine, Amarone, along with her three vinous siblings, from the Valpolicella region.
Valpolicella is a place known for one blend that produces four wines.
Valpolicella, home of Amarone, is a red-wine-only region that is part of the Veneto (named after Venice) located in northeastern Italy near Verona. The name Valpolicella is thought to come from the Greek meaning “valley of many cellars.” Valpolicella is one of the largest wine regions of Italy, encompassing several neighboring valleys that include seven different villages. Everything from everyday sippers to world-class red wines are produced here. The region is explained by the Consorzio Per La Tutela Dei Vini Valpolicella:
The Valpolicella landscape is characterized by hills, soft slopes and hill-high watersheds, mostly covered with vineyards, olive and cherry trees. This territory’s geological and climatic features are the basis for the production of original wines.
And while the Veneto produces all manner of wines, Valpolicella focuses exclusively on four variations on one grape blend.
All four manifestations of Valpolicella star the grape varietal called Corvina. Supporting actors include local varietals including Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara. Valpolicella wines run the gamut in price per bottle from $15 for regular Valpolicella to $50-$150+ for Amarone.
Valpolicella This normale style is made in the mannor of all young red table wines, generally unoaked and quaffable. The two sub-categories to seek are Classico and Superior; they are worth the few extra bucks. Flavors of juicy cherry, mocha, violet, and almond. $
Amarone della Valpolicella A bold, high alcohol (15% ABV+), dry red made from grapes dried for four months as they are nestled in bamboo baskets in the lofts of Veronese wineries. Fermentation is slow and then the wine ages in larger European oak or Chestnut barrels for a minimum of two years (longer for Riserva Amarone). Flavors of dried figs, Mexican bitter chocolate, black pepper, and fine cigars. Amarone translates to “big bitter one.” $$$-$$$$
Valpolicella Ripasso Made using a unique method in which Valpolicella Superior is “passed back over” the pomace of the dried grapes of Amarone della Valpolicella, causing a minor refermentation that augments both alcohol and glycerin in the wine. This process leaves the wine richer, and sometimes sweeter. Flavors of ripe cherry, dried figs, sweet chocolate, and balsamic. Ripasso is occasionally referred to as a “Baby Amarone” and therefore a great value. The Masi family is credited as being the pioneers of Ripasso. $$
Recioto della Valpolicella This is an unfortified sweet red wine made from dried grapes that are picked later in the season. Fermentation is stopped early, leaving residual sugar (50 g/l) and producing a decadent red wine known as Recioto (rech-ee-oh-toe). Think of this style as sweet Amarone. Flavors include chocolate covered raisins, candied cherry and espresso. The wine is then aged in European oak with no minimum aging requirements. Small French oak barrels are the preferred choice. Think of this as Port, without the punch of extra alcohol. $$$-$$$$
Word of the Day: Appassimento
This refers to the process of drying grapes to make wine and it is practiced in Valpolicella more than anywhere else. Grapes are dried for four months, losing 40% of their weight, before being pressed and made into either Amarone or Recioto, the two big-bucks wines. Why bother making wine from dried grapes? The reason is out of necessity. Big red wines are the product of ripe grapes in warm, sunny climates. Cooler regions like the Veneto would normally settle for whites and lighter reds. The appassimento method was a game changer, allowing the Venetians to circumvent Mother Nature.
Tria’s tips for Valpolicella enjoyment.
Tria often features wines from Valpolicella on our menus, including full-blown Amarone, and we’re always happy to have you visit is! Remember: Amarone is our favorite winter red.
Your local Premium Collection PLCB store is sure to have some fine selections as well. Our favorite producers are: Allegrini, Farina, Bussola, Bertani, Zenato, Masi and, for a big splurge, try Quintarelli or Dal Forno Romano. Keep an eye out for newly released 2015 vintage and yet-to-be released 2016 vintages. These are shaping up to be true classics.
Amarone (dry) and Recioto (sweet) versions both are pairing nirvana for cheese and chocolate lovers. Sure, you could serve Amarone with a nice big roast of your favorite meat, but the wine always pairs beautifully with stoic cooked and pressed Italian cheeses such as a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano with walnuts and a drizzle of aged Balsamic vinegar. Recioto pairs perfectly with dark chocolate and dried fruits.
If Valpolicella sounds like it’s up your alley, then don’t forget to stop by Tria Cafe this week for a unique opportunity to sample all four glorious variations!
Michael McCaulley, Tria Partner and Wine Director