Valpolicella Wines: An Introduction to Classico, Superiore and Ripasso
Your cheat sheet: Valpolicella wines. Welcome to the Valpolicella wine region, a range of small valleys that slope southward on the hills above Verona.
The world-class Valpolicella wines
The Valpolicella wine region is a global producer of top red wine made up of four wine appellations: Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone, and Recioto.
Broken down, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG and Valpolicella Ripasso DOC are the top tiers that garner the attention of wine lovers the world over. But, Valpolicella DOC and Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG keep connoisseurs fascinated with the region, in part due to their ancient winemaking practices that live on today.
The Valpolicella Wine Region: The grapes
These four appellations all produce wine with a blend of native Corvina (from 45 to 95 percent) and Rondinella (from 5 to 30 percent) grapes – the two mandatory varieties.
Corvinona is a recommended grape widely planted throughout the region, used as a substitute for Corvina for up to 50 percent of the blend. “Disciplinare di Produzione”, the official PDOs policy of production, allows up to 25 percent of other varieties in the blend.
Learn about the wines of the Valpolicella on our Valpolicella Wine Tour!
The full-day wine tour is a great exploration of Valpolicella wines with three winery visits, tastings of Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone, and Recioto, and a traditional lunch. Your day is led by a sommelier or equivalent wine expert who will guide you through the region’s winemaking traditions and style.
Valpolicella wines are divided into two categories and each group has its own regulation:
- Non-aromatic, red-berried varieties allowed for cultivation in the province of Verona. They are permitted in the blend at a maximum of 15 percent, with a maximum limit of 10 percent for every single variety;
- Red-berried Italian varieties that are classified as native and allowed to be cultivated in the province of Verona. They are permitted together or on their own to a maximum of 10 percent.
If the varieties used in the blends are the same for every wine, it is due to the winemaking technique and / or style of each appellation.
About: Valpolicella Wine
Valpolicella wine drinks well with everyday meals. On the palate, it has a fresh, delicate taste, and shows strong aromas on the nose. These wines are produced in the post-harvest period.
Wines with the label Valpolicella Classico are produced and vinified within the original and most ancient winemaking area comprised of the five municipalities of S.Ambrogio, Fumane, San Pietro in Cariano, Marano, and Negrar.
After arriving in the cellar, the bunches are immediately crushed and destemmed. The juice is fermented and macerated into stainless steel vats for seven to 10 days.
Valpolicella DOC is aged in stainless steel tanks and usually releases on the market in the spring. For a Valpolicella Superiore, the wine is released after a year of aging when the sugar- free extract is at least 20 g/l and the alcohol content is equal to or higher than 12 percent.
About: Valpolicella Superiore wine
To produce more concentrated and higher alcohol wine, such as Valpolicella DOC Superiore, the best bunches are selected from top sites; others are slightly dried.
About: Valpolicella Ripasso
Ripasso has a ruby color with garnet reflections. It is made by re-fermenting Valpolicella Classico wine in contact with the crushed grape skins previously used in the production of Amarone, for a period of two to three weeks.
This process makes a wine of strong flavor that is similar to Amarone, but more delicate. This spectacular wine was born of the marriage between Valpolicella and Amarone – giving wine lovers the best of both worlds: the freshness of Valpolicella and the richness of Amarone.
- Step 1: The first step of production starts with the Valpolicella DOC vinification, which occurs during the first weeks of October. After fermentation, the wine remains in stainless steel tanks until February.
- Step 2: Next, the production undergoes Amarone vinification. The Amarone grapes left to shrivel for three months are crushed and fermented.
- Step 3: In February, on one side there is the Valpolicella resting in stainless steel tanks and on the other side the Amarone macerating into fermenting vats. After 35 to 40 days of maceration, Amarone is drained off, and the pomace and wine are separated.
- Step 4: After draining the Amarone, the Ripasso technique is employed, which consists of fermenting and macerating the Valpolicella wine a second time by using the residual Amarone skins for about seven to 10 days. The fermentation vat containing the Amarone pomace is filled with Valpolicella. Having a little unfermented sugar, the pomace triggers a second fermentation in Valpolicella.