A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 562: Valpolicella

View of Verona from Corte San Mattia

Sunday, September 6th: Last night I caught a 10:25 pm flight for Rome and then a flight to Verona. I’m here for a bloggers’ tour in Valpolicella. There are five of us involved – Jane from Ottawa, Alexander from Hong Kong, Maxime from Beijing and Jung from Korea.

I was met at Verona airport by Federica from the Valpolicella Consortio, who arranged the tour and will be travelling with us. She dropped me at the hotel where we will spend five nights. It’s a delightful agritourismo called Fioravante set in a vineyard in San Pietro in Cariano with its own swimming pool. Dinner in Castelrotto di Negrarine. An English couple had a well-behaved Wheaten terrier named Lucy with them as they dined outside. Made me homesick for Pinot.

The menu: pasta e fagioli with Amarone, risotto with porcini, carpaccio of duck, pork. A dessert of millefoglie with Monteveronese cheese. The wines: Corte Sant’Alba Ca’ Fiui Valpolicella 2014, Secondo Marco Valpolicella Classico 2013, Cecilia Beretta Terre di Cariano Valpolicella Classico 2012, I Sartori Valpolicella Superiore 2011, Scriani Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2013, Villa Bella Fracastoro Amarone Riserva 2006. If this is indicative of the meals we will be having I shall have to go on a serious diet on my return.

Duck carpaccio at Relais Castrum

Secundo Marco Valpolicella 2013

Monday, September 7th: Woke at 4:30 am and that was it for the night. By 8:45 we are on the road to our first winery: ARMANI (Località Ceradello – 37020 Dolcè). The Armani family have been grape growers in Trentino since 1607 – 16 generations. They own six wineries in three provinces, as well as making Prosecco. Outside the winery is a small vineyard that is resurrecting 12 local varieties that were on their way to extinction. After a cellar tour, the tasting:

  • Albino Armani Corvina 2013: deep ruby colour; cherry nose with a mineral thread; dry, medium-bodied, fruity cherry character and fresh. (87+)
  • Albino Armani Valpolicella Superiore “Egle” 2012: ruby colour; earthy cherry pit nose and strawberry notes on the nose; dry, fruity and fresh with lively acidity. (88)
  • Albino Armani Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2012: deep ruby colour; raisiny, dried cherries with sweet tobacco and oak notes; richly extracted, dry, beautifully balanced with a lovely mouth-feel. Nicely structured with a tannic lift on the finish. (89)
  • Albino Armani Amarone della Valpolicella 2010: ruby colour; tobacco and cedar with dried cherries on the nose; richly extracted, full-bodied, nicely balanced with good length and a warm alcoholic finish. (90)
  • Albino Armani Cuslanus Amarone Classico 2010: deep ruby colour; cedar, cherry nose with an oak note and a lovely floral grace note; mouth-filling, full-bodied, cherry, plum and raisin flavours with well integrated tannins. Still youthful. (91)
  • Albino Armani Recioto della Valpolicella 2012: deep ruby with a purple tint; sweet plum and prune bouquet; full-bodied, dried cherries and kirsch flavours. Firm finish. (88+)

Rondinella grapes

Next stop, SANTA SOFIA (Via Cà Dede, 61 – 37029 San Pietro In Cariano). I had visited this property on my last visit to Valpolicella. After the cellar tour by the owner, Giancarlo Begnoni, we drove up to Trattoria Caprini in Torbe for “a light lunch” as described in the program: lasagnette pasta with ragu sauce, beef cheek in a spicy sauce with polenta and bitter greens, followed by grana Padano and Vezzena cheese.

  • Santa Sofia Monte Gradella Valpolicella 2011: deep ruby colour; spicy, black cherry and rose petal nose with vanilla oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, elegant.

Santa Sofia

Next stop: LE RAGOSE (Località le Ragose – 37024 Arbizzano). Paolo Galli farms 18 hectares. His father planted Cabernet Sauvignon 35 years ago at an elevation of 350 meters. Paolo took us through the vineyards before the tasting:

  • Le Ragose Valpolicella Classico 2014: deep ruby colour; spicy, white pepper, cherry nose; lively acidity, grassy note and sour cherry with a firm finish. Somewhat Beaujolais-like. (87)
  • Le Ragose Valpolicella “Sassine” Ripasso 2010: ruby with a violet note; rose petal, cherry nose; dry, medium-bodied with blackcurrant and cherry flavours, fresh and lively on the palate; drier and more savoury than usual Ripassos. (90)
  • Le Ragose Amarone Caloetto 2006: dense purple-ruby colour; savoury, plum and black cherry aromas; surprisingly dry and savoury with spice and lively acidity. (89+)
  • Le Ragose Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: deep ruby colour; blackcurrant, cedar nose; dry, fruity, elegant, medium to full-bodied and firmly structured with well-extracted fruit. Ripe tannins. (89)

Paolo Galli of Le Ragose

Next stop at 4:30 pm, CASA VINICOLA SARTORI (Via Casette, 2 – 37024 Negrar). Sartori is one of the oldest and biggest wineries in Valpolicella, exporting 80% of their wines. They are housed in a 17th-century villa. The chapel on the property dates back to the 15th century. They own 2,300 hectares of vineyards and have access to a further 2700 hectares with the acquisition of a co-op.

  • Sartori Regolo Valpolicella Ripasso 2012: deep ruby colour; spicy, peppery, black cherry nose; sweet cherry, soft on the palate with lively acidity. Easy drinking. (87+)
  • I Saltari Valpolicella Superiore 2011: leather, iodine note, sour cherry, medium-bodied, fresh and firmly structured – blackcurrant and sour cherry flavours. (90)
  • Sartori Valpolicella Classico 2010 (5% Cabernet Sauvignon): ruby colour with a mature rim; savoury, cedar, red berry nose; with a wisp of oak; firm and fleshy with lively acidity and evident but supple tannins. (89)
  • Sartori Corte Bra Amarone 2008: dense ruby-black colour; smoky, black licorice, black cherry and pencil lead nose; full-bodied, rich , spicy, peppery, dry, herbal and savoury plum flavours; chunky mouth feel. (90+)
  • I Saltari Amarone 2008: dense ruby-black in colour; creamy, black cherry nose with cinnamon and cedar notes; ripe fruit, full-bodied but belies its 15.5% alcohol. Fleshy and firm with fresh, balancing acidity and good length. (92)

8:00 pm: Dinner at RISTORANTE LA DIVINA (via Conca d’Oro, 1, 37015 San Giorgio di Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella). The menu:

Braised Veronese radicchio with porcini mushrooms and grana Padano, served with Scriani Valpolicella Classico 2014 and Boscaini Carlo Ca’ Bussin Valpolicalla Classico 2013

Orecchiette pasta with tomato sauce and mozzarella, served with Massimago Valpolicella Classico Profasio 2012 and Sartori Monte Gradella Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012

Amarone pork steak served with Villabella Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2013 and Latium Campo dei Ciliegi Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2011

Veronese cheeses, served with Pasqua Amarone di Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2009 and Santa Sofia Amarone Classico 2009

Millefoglie with orange cream and chocolate drizzle, served with Cecilia Beretta Amarone Classico Terre di Cariano 2006 and Santa Sofia Amarone Classico 2009

Finally, Zonin Grappa

Tuesday, September 8th: 9:00 am to SCRIANI, Via Ponte Scrivan, 7 – 37022 Fumane. A 3-hectare vineyard here. Very impressive wines.

  • Scriani Valpolicella Classico 2014 (Corvina 60%,Corvinone 20%, Rondinella 10%, Molinara 7%, Oseleta 3%): bright ruby colour; peppery, spicy, cherry and blackcurrant nose with a floral top note; dry, medium-bodied, well-balanced with lively acidity, a note of basil, redcurrant and sour cherry flavours and a warm alcoholic finish. (90)
  • Scriani Valpolicella Superiore 2013 (Corvina 60%, Corvinone 20%, Rondinella 10%, Croatina 7%, Oseleta 3%): bright ruby colour; evident oak, cherry with a floral note on the nose; dry, fresh, cherry flavour; firm with lively acidity, fruity and well-structured. (89+)
  • Scriani Valpolicella Classico Superiore “Ripasso” 2013 (Corvina 60%,Corvinone 20%, Rondinella 10%, Molinara 7%, Oseleta 3%): deep ruby colour; leather, raisiny, cherry with a cedar note; well extracted blackcurrant flavour, dry, full-bodied with racy acidity; good length. (91)
  • Scriani Valpolicella Classico Superiore “Ripasso” 2007: mature ruby colour; developing a barnyard note with spicy, savoury, leather, cherry nose with a floral top note; lovely mouth-feel, sweet cherry flavour, firm structure; a muscular wine with evident but supple tannins. (92)
  • Scriani Carpanè Corvina Veronese 2010: deep ruby colour; a nose of cedar, cherry, blackcurrant with a grassy note; rich, spicy medium to full-bodied, elegant and firmly structured with a vanilla oak note. (91)
  • Scriani Amarone Classico 2010 (16% alcohol Corvino, 25% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella): deep ruby colour; intense blackcurrant, tobacco and vanilla oak nose; richly extracted, sweet fruit, full-bodied and beautifully balanced, Finishes firmly and carries its alcohol well. (92+)
  • Scriani Amarone Classico Riserva 2010 (16% alcohol Corvino, 25% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella): deep ruby colour; spicy, animal note on the nose; richly extracted, sweet plum and prune flavours, chunky mouth-feel. Evident tannins. Needs time. (91–93?)
  • Scriani Recioto della Valpolicella 2011 (Corvina 60%, Corvinone 20%, Rondinella 10%, Molinara 10%): deep ruby colour; rich, raisiny, blackcurrant nose; sweet and porty, blackcurrant flavour with a firm finish. (89)

The Cottini family, Azienda Agricola Scriani

11:00 am: TENUTE SALVATERRA, Via Cengia, 8 – 37029 Loc. Cengia S. Pietro in Cariano. Five hectares on the estate with 300 acres spread around Valpolicella as well as producing Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. Great density of planting here, 9600 vines per hectare. Here we had a lunch tasting:

  • SalvaTerre Valpolicella Classico 2013: ruby colour; cherry and cherry pit nose with a light floral note; fresh, dry and light with a savoury sour cherry flavour. (87)
  • SalvaTerre Valpolicella Classico Ripasso 2012: deep ruby colour; floral, cherry nose with an vanilla oak note; dry cherry compote flavour, firmly structured. (88+)
  • SalvaTerre Lazzarone 2010 (60% Corvina, 10% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, 5% other local varieties): dense ruby colour; cherry kirsch nose with earthy and floral notes; dry and savoury with lively acidity. (89)
  • SalvaTerre Amarone Classico 2008 (65% Corvina, 10% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% other local varieties): deep ruby colour; spicy, oak, tar and black cherry nose with a note of dried rose petals; rich and full on the palate – dry, beautifully balanced; powerful yet elegant. (91)
  • SalvaTerre Amarone Classico Rieserva Cave de Prun 2004: ruby colour holding nicely; cinnamon, cherry, lightly floral with a suggestion of oak; dry, beautifully balanced, integrated and seamless. A majestic wine. (93)

Tenute Salvaterra

Cellar at Tenute Salvaterra

2:30 pm BOSCAINI CARLO, Via Sengia, 37015. This quote from the website: “Our winery covers an area of 14 hectares overlooking the famous village of St. Giorgio Ingannapoltron, known around the world for its marvelous ancient church, cloister, and archeological excavation. In the beginning, the late Carlo Boscaini (who lived to the venerable age of 102 drinking wine in modest quantity but high quality) produced wine with great passion from leased land.”

  • Boscaini Carlo Valpolicella Classico Ca’ Bussin 2013: mature ruby colour; minerally, dusty, cherry nose; dry, lean, sinewy, very Burgundian in style; elegant, well-structured, sour cherry flavour with ripe tannins. (88+)
  • Boscaini Carlo Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012: deep ruby colour; dusty terroir-driven, blackcurrant with a spicy note on the nose; ripe, coffee bean and blackcurrant flavours; good length. (89+)
  • Boscaini Carlo Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2011: dusty, spicy, oaky, with a light floral note; sweet cherry flavour with coffee bean and raisin notes. Sustains well on the palate; good acidity finishing dry. (90)
  • Boscaini Carlo Amarone Classico “San Giorgio” 2011: deep ruby colour; dark chocolate and plum nose with a thread of minerality; sweet, porty with chocolate and cherry flavours. Big and round in the mouth. (89)
  • Boscaini Carlo Recioto della Valpolicella La Sengia 2013: dense ruby-purple; kirsch and bitter chocolate nose; sweet cherry flavour, fruity but firm with an engaging bitter finish. (89).

Boscaini Carlo

4:30 pm SECONDO MARCO, Via Campolongo, 9 – 37022 Fumane. A beautifully appointed winery with a contemporary look. All his wine labels are made from fabric. Winemaker Marco Speri took us into the cellar for a barrel tasting, showing us Amarones from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 before a formal tasting upstairs. High quality across the portfolio.

  • Secondo Marco Valpolicella Classico 2014: light ruby colour; cedar, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, lean, sinewy, lively acidity with a firm finish. (88+)
  • Secondo Marco Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2012: ruby with a mature rim; vanilla oak, cherry nose and a hint of violets; rich and dry with a sour cherry flavour; well balanced with mouth-freshening acidity. Firm finish. Needs time. (90–92)
  • Secondo Marco Amarone Classico 2009: deep ruby colour; cedar, cherry and cherry pit nose; richly extracted, cherry with finely ground tannins; beautifully balanced with cocoa powder tannins. A seamless wine. A keeper. Hold five years at least. (93–94)
  • Secondo Marco Amarone Classico 2010: deep ruby colour; cedar, vanilla, spicy, black cherry and pencil lead nose; richly extracted, cherry, blackcurrant and black plum flavours with a strong acidic spine and a lovely note of violets in the back taste. Firm tannic finish. Needs 8–10 years. (92–94)
  • Secondo Marco Amarone Classico 2012 (barrel sample): deep ruby colour; vanilla oak, grassy note, fruit masked by oak at the moment but a light floral note coming through on the nose; dry, lean, tight locked in flavours. But already showing its elegance. Reminds me of a Pinot Noir. Needs time. (91–93)
  • Secondo Marco Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 2012: dense ruby colour; Christmas cake nose with kirsch notes; sweet cherry flavour beautifully balanced with acidity and a structured finish. Great length. (91)

Secondo Marco Amarone 2008

Marco Speri of Secondo Marco

6:30 pm VILLABELLA, 37010 Cavaion Veronese, Cordevigo. From the website: “In 2002, the wine and olive estate with Villa Cordevigo on its land, was acquired by the Delibori and Cristoforetti families. After ambitious restoration over a number of years, the nature and soul of the Villa were preserved while turning it into a superb country hotel with a wealth of art and history.”

  • Villabella Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2014: pale salmon colour; minerally, yellow cherry nose, citrus with a floral note; crisply dry, light-bodied Meyer lemon flavour, fresh and lively on the palate. (88+)
  • Villa Cordevigo Bardolino Chiaretto Classico Biologico 2014: deep salmon colour; earthy, strawberry nose; strawberry flavour, full in the mouth with some weight. (88)
  • Vigna Morlongo Bardolino Classico Anniversario 2013: deep ruby colour; peppery, plum nose; dry, medium-bodied, plum flavour. (88)
  • I Roccoli Valpolicella Classico 2013: deep ruby colour; cherry nose with an earthy note; firmly structured with lively acidity and a firm structure. (88+)
  • Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2013: dense purple-ruby; raisiny, peppery, cherry nose; mouth-filling cherry and coffee bean flavours; firm and rich. (89+)
  • Villa Cordevigo Rosso Veronese IGT 2008 (Corvina and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot – dried grapes): dense purple-ruby colour; cedar, cigar leaf and plum bouquet; dry, full-bodied, ripe black fruit flavours with dark chocolate notes; firm structure, youthful with soft tannins. Needs time. (89+)
  • Villabella Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008: dense purple-ruby colour; spicy, cedar, tobacco, black cherry and blackcurrant nose with violets and vanilla oak notes; rich and full on the palate with dark chocolate and cherry flavours. Round on the palate and still youthful. (92)

Oseleta ristorante at Villabella

We dined in Villa Cordevigo’s restaurant, Oseleta. Chef Giuseppe D’Aquino has one star. We started with marinated porcini mushrooms, followed by Fassone beef, red onion sorbet, pistachio sauce, crispy raspberry; cappelletti filled with veal, pearà cream, Cordevigo red wine sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese form; cheek of Fassone beef, Oseleta sauce, parsnip, sour cherries and chocolate. Two desserts.

Wednesday, September 9th: 9:00 am VILLA MONTELEONE, Via Monteleone, 12, Sant’Ambrogio di Vallpolcella. A traditional house started by an American neurosurgeon from Chicago whose wife now runs the operation. They cultivate 6 hectares, averaging 35,000 bottles.

  • Villa Monteleone Valpolicella Classico Campo Santa Lena 2014: deep ruby colour; cherry with light floral note; light-bodied, fruity and dry, sour cherry flavour with driving acidity. Beaujolais style. Easy drinking. (87)
  • Villa Monteleone Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso Campo San Vito 2011: deep ruby colour; oaky, pencil lead, black cherry bouquet; rich and full in the mouth, initially sweet black cherry and then dies out on the finish to a warm alcoholic finish. Firm structure. (87+)
  • Villa Monteleone Amarone della Vapolicella Classico 2009: deep ruby with a tawny rim; creamy, chocolate, prune bouquet with a touch of undergrowth; concentrated, full-bodied, sweet black cherry and plum flavours, well balanced, firm finish. Old style Amarone. (89+)
  • Raimondi Palsun Recioto della Valpolicella 2011: deep ruby colour; spicy, iodine, kirsch, cherry bouquet; sweet and rich with balancing acidity, finishing savoury, dark chocolate with a tannic lift on the finish. (89)

11:00 am CORRADO BENEDETTI, Via Croce dello Schioppo, 1 – 37020 Sant’Anna d’Alfaedo. This amazing shop sells a variety of salumi and local cheeses as well as wine. Their website boasts, “The gastronomic range available is unimaginable and rather difficult to describe in writing: salami, soppresse, lards, cured meats, cuts of meat chosen for cooking at home or grilling with friends. And there’s more: fresh or mature cheeses, ‘pure’ or flavoured with local herbs, fruits and wines. But let’s not forget the fresh fruit jams, the wonderful preserves and pickles made from fresh vegetables, the creative jellies made with local wines such as Amarone and spicy mostarde for magnifying the taste of any cheese.” And they’re not exaggerating! We tasted a variety of their products washed down with the following wines: Zyme Vapolicella Classico Superiore 2011, Corte Sant’Alda Campi Magri Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2012, Albino Armani Valpolicella Ripasso 2012.

Corrado Benedetti

Cheese aging at Corrado Benedetti

2:30 pm PASQUA, Via Belvedere, 135 – 37131 Verona. The four Pasqua brothers founded the winery in 1925. I was please to run into Carlo Pasqua whom met first some thirty years ago.

  • Famiglia Pasqua Bianco Passione e Sentimento Romeo & Juliet 2014 (100% Garganega – dried for one month): golden colour; dried peach and citrus nose with a mineral note; rich and full on the palate, round and fruity, peach and apricot with a touch of sweetness tamed by citrus acidity. (88+)
  • Cecilia Beretta – Mizzole Valpolicella Superiore 2013 (60% Corvina, 25% Corvione, 10% Rondinella, 5% Croatina): deep ruby colour; cherry, coffee bean nose with vanilla oak note; medium-bodied, sour cherry carried on lively acidity. (88+)
  • Pasqua Black Label Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2013 (60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone, 10% Negrara): deep ruby colour; cherry with an oak note on the nose; well-structured medium to full-bodied, black cherry and raisin flavour, lively acidity. (88)
  • Famiglia Pasqua Rosso Passione e Sentimento Romeo & Juliet 2013 (Merlot 40%, Corvinp 30%, 30% Croatina): deep ruby colour; tobacco and cherry bouquet; medium to ful-bodied, perfumed, rose petal and cherry flavour; soft on the palate, easy drinking. (89)
  • Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Villa Borghetti 2011: deep ruby colour; oaky earthy, black cherry bouquet; good mouth-feel with a touch of residual sweetness; chocolate on the finish; firm structure. (89)
  • Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 (60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta. 5% Corvinone): deep ruby colour; earthy, cedar, rose petal, licorice and vanilla oak bouquet; full-bodied, some sweetness in mid-palate; firmly structured and well balanced. Needs time. (90–91)
  • Cecilia Beretta Terre di Carano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 (60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Croatina, 5% Oseleta. 5% Corvinone): deep ruby colour; cigar box, cinnamon, pencil lead and cherry nose; full-bodied, sweet fruit, firmly structured, quite forward and juicy with a warm alcoholic finish. (90)
  • Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2006 – 90th Anniversary edition (60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta, 5% Corvinone): deep ruby colour; spicy, vanilla, cherry nose with licorice and violet notes; sweet cherry flavour with balancing acidity. Firm structure, the tannins are a little green; needs aging. (89–91)
  • Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella 2003 (65% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Croatina, 5% Oseleta): dense ruby-black in colour; roasted, dried cherry nose with notes of plum, prune, dried rose petals and coffee beans; tannic finish. The question is, will it ever come around – 2003 was a very hot year. (88–?)

Pasqua wine labelled with graffiti from Juliet’s house in Verona

4:30 pm LATIUM Via Fienile, 2 – 37030 Mezzane di Sotto. Seven petals of the flower on the label represent the seven family members involved in the company. Used to sell grapes to the cooperative and started their own winery in 2002. 60% Valpolicella wines and 40% Soave. Latius is the old Roman name of Illasi, a nearby village. 43 hectares, 140,000 bottles production of high quality wines.

  • Latium Campo Le Calle 2014 (100% Garganega, dried for two months): bright straw colour; grassy, green plum nose; richly extracted apricot and green plum flavours; full in the mouth, beautifully balanced with great length. Lively acidity. (92)
  • Latium Valpolicella 2014 (80% Corvina, Rondinella and other varieties 20%): bright ruby colour; blackcurrant, cedar nose with a rose petal nose; fresh and lively on the palate, sour cherry flavour with fresh acidity. Supple tannins on the finish give the wine structure. (89)
  • Latium Campo dei Ciliegi Valpolicella Ripasso 2012 (Corvina and Corvinone 70%, Rondinella 20%, Oseleta and Croatina 10%): deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant nose with a rose petal note; richly extracted, cherry flavour with beautifully integrated oak and fresh acidity. (92)
  • Latium Campo Prognài Valpolicella Superiore 2012 (Corvina and Corvinone 70%, Rondinella 20%, other varieties 10%): ruby colour; cedar, rose, cherry, vanilla oak nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, seamless with a firm tannic structure. A lovely wine. (92)
  • Latium Campo Leòn Amarone della Valpolicella 2010 (70% Corvina, Rondinella 20%, Oseleta and Croatina 10%): deep ruby colour; cedar, tobacco leaf, vanilla oak with rose petal notes; rich and full-bodied, concentrated, sweet fruit that finishes dry. (91)
  • Latium Sette Dame Passito dei Veneto 2011 (100% Garganega, dried for six months): old gold colour; honey, macadamia nut nose with a light oak note; honeyed, barley sugar with balancing acidity. Rich and full-bodied, peach and honey flavours with a nutty finish. (92)
  • Latium Amarone Due Mori Riserva 2008: deep ruby colour; prune and dates, spicy, dried rose petal nose; lots of extract, full-bodied, sweet and porty with serious tannins. Good acidity and well structured. A wine to lay down. (92–94?)
  • Latium Septem Viri Recioto della Valpolicella 2009 (Corvina 70%, Rondinella 20%, Croatina 5%, Oseleta 5%): deep ruby, colour; sweet cherry with balancing acidity and an earthy, tannic finish. Warm alcoholic sensation on the final taste. (89+)

Latium Campo dei Ciliegi Valpolicella Ripasso 2012

8:00 pm Dinner at LOCANDA 800, Moron, 46 – 37024 Negrar. The menu:

Octopus with Valpolicella sauce, served with Santa Sofia Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2013 and Salvaterra Valpolicella Classico 2013

Gnocchi with arugula, pesto and pecorino, with Scirani Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2013 and Boscaini Carlo La Preosa Valpolicella Classico 2012

Filet of veal with mushrooms and potatoes, with Pasqua Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2013 and Sartori Amarone Riserva 2010

Cheeses with Secondo Marco Amarone Classico 2010

Thursday, September 10th: 9:00 am ZYMÈ, Via Cà del Pipa, 1 – 37029 S. Pietro In Cariano. This is a spectacularly contemporary winey, carved out of a 15th century sandstone quarry. Celestino Gaspari worked with Giuseppe Quintarelli from 1986 to 1997 and it really shows in the wines. He came across a Rondinella vine that had produced bunches of both black and white grapes. He managed to isolate the gene that produces the white bunches and cultivated a vine that produces white Rondinella.

  • Zyme Il Bianco From Black to White 2014 (60% white Rondinella with 40% aromatic varieties): light straw colour; rose petal and white peach nose with a mineral note; fresh, crab apple and peach flavour. Well-structured with mouth-freshening acidity great length. (91)
  • Zyme Valpolicella Rêverie 2014 (Corvina 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 25%, Oseleta 5%): deep ruby colour; raspberry and cherry nose; dry, elegant, lean, sour cherry with a terroir character; clean and well balanced, very Pinot Noir-ish. (90)
  • Zyme Valpolicella “Val” Classico Superiore 2011 (Corvina 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 25%, Oseleta 5% – given Ripasso treatment but not declared on the label): mature ruby colour; again very Pinot Noir; violets, cherries and tobacco on the nose with well integrated oak; elegant, beautifully balanced, lovely mouth-feel, firmly structured with clean lines and good length. (91)
  • Zyme Oseleta 2009 (two vines to make one bottle of wine!): dense ruby colour; tobacco, cedar, floral, cherry bouquet; rich mouth-feel, textured, sour cherry and plum flavours with a strong thread of acidity and evident tannins. (90)
  • Zyme Amarone Classico della Valpolicella 2007 (Corvina 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 15%, Oseleta 10%, Croatina 5%): mature, deep ruby colour; tobacco, vanilla oak and cherries on the nose; a seamless wine, beautifully structured, velvety mouth feel with ripe tannins. (94)
  • Zyme Amarone Classico della Valpolicella La Mattonara 2003 (Corvina 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 15%, Oseleta 10%, Croatina 5%): deep ruby colour; intense, spicy, vanilla, rose petal, cherry and tobacco bouquet; Beautifully integrated oak, full-bodied, elegant with chewy tannins. A majestic wine. (96)

Zymè’s modern winery

Zymè’s cellar carved out of a sandstone quarry

Zymè’s great 2003 Amarone – my top-scoring wine of the tour

11:00 am GIOVANNI EDERLE – CORTE SAN MATTIA Via Santa Giuliana, 2a, 37128 Verona. The winery takes its name from the local church. A beautiful estate high on the hills overlooking Verona. A working farm and agritourismo with a restaurant and 35 rooms. Giovanni Ederle drove us around the property in a reconditioned American army jeep to show us the vineyards, fig trees, olive orchard and kitchen garden that supplies the resaurant. All his whites are made with a blend of Garganega 60% and Chardonnay 40%. All the reds are Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella.

  • San Mattia Barbagianni Spumante Brut (Charmat): straw colour; apple nose with citrus notes; dry, lemony, apple flavour with a mineral finish; light-bodied, fresh and easy drinking. Long lemony finish. (89)
  • San Mattia Bianco 2014: golden straw colour; apple and white peach with a light floral note; dry, medium-bodied, apple and pear flavours with a note of ginger. (87+)
  • San Mattia Donna Francesca 2012: old cold colour; oaky, slightly oxidized, baked apple and nut bouquet; full-bodied, peach and caramel flavours with a salty note on the finish. (89+)
  • San Mattia Rosso 2013: a light ruby colour; earthy, cherry pit nose; dry, sour cherry with a bitter finish; fresh and fruity. A delicate cherry flavour on the finish. (88)
  • San Mattia Rubro del Forte 2012: ruby colour; lightly oxidized, dried cherry nose; full-bodied, leather, dried cherries and bitter chocolate note. (88)
  • San Mattia Amarone della Valpolicella 2012 (5% Croatina – grapes dried 4 months): ruby colour with a tawny hue; evolved nose of dried cherries, chocolate and vanilla oak; full-bodied, sweet and savoury umami flavour of dried cherries and prunes, velvety mouth-feel with a tannic lift on the finish. Needs time (89–91)

We lunch outdoors on carrot flan on a bed of Monte Veronese cheese sauce and risotto with aromatic herbs.

2:30 pm MASSIMAGO, Via Giare, 21, 37030 Mezzane di Sotto. Camilla Rosso Chauvenet comes from a family of lawyers but she chose to become a winemaker. Wise decision. The wine is set high in the Mezzane hills – 28 hectares of vineyards, olive trees and woods. No-one who works here is over 35 and Camilla’s artistic sensibility is evident not only in the wines but in the winery’s promotional material.

Camilla Rosso Chauvenet of Massimago

  • Massimago Rosae Saignee 2013 (Saignee of Valpolicella): salmon coloured; minerally, yellow cherry nose;medium-bodied, crisply dry, sour cherry flavour. Bracing pink grapefruit acidity. (87+)

Matteo, the oenologist, gave us berries to taste to show if the grapes are reading for harvest.

  • Massimago Valpolicella 2014 (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella): light, bright ruby colour; redcurrant, white pepper with a mineral note; medium-bodied, dry, green herbal notes. (87)
  • Massimago Profasio Valpolicello 2012 (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella): ruby colour with a violet note; cedar, cherry with a suggestion of vanilla oak on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, peppery cherry flavour with a cherry pit finish. (89+)
  • Massimago Amarone Della Valpolicella 2011: ruby colour; vanilla, dried rose petal, tobacco and cherry nose; rich and full on the palate, soft on the palate and carries its 16.5% alcohol. Sweet black cherry and kirsch flavour with balancing acidity. (90)

4:30 pm CORTE SANT’ALDA, Via Capovilla, 28, 37030 Località Fioi, Mezzane di Sotto. We arrived at this biodynamic winery high in the hills as they were beginning the crush. Marinella Camerani is a very engaging host who welcomed us even though the staff was crazy busy receiving and crushing grapes Garganega and Trebbiano for their Soave.

  • Corte Sant’Alda Agathe 2014 (made in a 500-litre amphora from 100% Molinara): very pale ruby colour; cranberry, redcurrant and dry watermelon flavours, medium-bodied and dry with some bitterness on the finish. (87)
  • Corte Sant’Alda Valpolicella Ca’ Fiui 2014: deep ruby-purple colour; rustic, cherry and plum bouquet; well extracted sour cherry flavour with lively acidity and a salty note; cherry pit finish. (88)
  • Corte Sant’Alda Valpolicella Ripasso Campi Magri 2012: deep ruby-purple colour; cedar, rose petal, cherry bouquet; spicy, richly extracted cherry flavour with balancing acidity and a touch of bitterness on the finish. Firm structure with ripe tannins. (89+)
  • Corte Sant’Alda Amarone 2010: deep ruby colour; warm, cedar, plum and cherry nose with a herbal note; full-bodied, sweet and raisiny with a fine spine of acidity and a firm tannic finish. Nicely balanced. (89–91)
  • Corte Sant’Alda Recioto della Valpolicella 2011: deep ruby colour; cherry kirsch with an earthy note; full-bodied, sweet cherry and dark chocolate flavours; fine mouth-feel, nicely balanced with acidity. (90)

Corte Sant’Alda’s rose made in an amphora

Our final (farewell) dinner was at ENOTECA DELLA VALPOLICELLA, Via Osan di Sopra, 45 – 37022 Fumane. A great wine store in the basement. The menu:

Pumpkin flowers with basil sauce and olive oil, with Zyme Valpolicella “Reverie” 2014 and Le Ragose Valpolicella Classico 2014

Ravioli with white truffles with Boscaini Carlo Valpolicella Ripasso 2011

Duck breast with honey with Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2012

Veronese cheeses with Latium Amari Campo Leon 2010 and Albino Armani Amarone Cuslanus 2009

With dessert, Secundo Marco Recioto della Valpolicella 2012 and Scriani Recioto della Valpolicella Maddelena 2012 – and grappa

Pasta with truffles

Chocolate dessert at Enoteca Della Valpolicella

Friday, September 11th: Flying home today. A great trip to Valpolicella and a new respect for Amarone.

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