THE GENTLEMEN OF VERONA: VALPOLICELLA AND ITS WINES

For the most of us, Verona means Romeo and Juliet. For many of us, this town also means “the two gentlemen”. There actually are two gentlemen from the area around Verona, and they are Recioto and Amarone, two DOCG wines from an area called Valpolicella. 

Valpolicella is a kind of hidden treasure among the plethora of tourist attractions of Italy. It lies in the Veneto region, where tourists might go for their holidays: Lake Garda, or in fascinating towns like the already mentioned Verona and, of course, Venice. 

Staying in Valpolicella is a very smart solution to visit this most peculiar area of the Veneto. But, not so surprisingly, this area is a destination deserving of a visit, especially if you are a wine lover or, at least, wine curious. 

Dozens of fascinating “villas” can be admired in this small area filled with history in the nearby, commune of Negrar, as well in the picturesque small town of Marano, where many ancient churches can be visited. Sant’Ambrogio is famous for its beautiful “chiostro” (colonnade), while fortifications of different historical periods and rulers can be found all over the area.

 Valpolicella is, in the collective imagination, the home of Amarone, one of the best wines of Italy, although some other interesting wines are produced here. 

What’s special about Amarone is its production process. First of all, you have to start the winemaking of a different wine: Recioto della Valpolicella.

Bunches are left to dry before they are pressed. This increases the sugar concentration. Then, you have to forget you were seeking after a straw wine and let the fermentation fully develop, to get Amarone. 

According to legend, this wine was first made by chance, because a cask of Recioto had been forgotten in a cellar, and the wine was drunk when all its sugars were already turned into alcohol. This might not be completely true, because this fact is reported have happened in 1926, whilst a non-sweet wine made of dried grapes was traditionally common in the area. 

Apart from Recioto and Amarone, Valpolicella also produces an appreciated DOC wine that bears the name of the area and that is sometimes subject to a “special treatment”: ripasso (meaning “further pass”). Before letting it age in casks, wine is poured on pressed Amarone marcs, and left there a couple of weeks, to allow it to absorb part of the aromas of Amarone, that give Valpolicella a more complex character.

What’s interesting in red wines from Valpolicella is that the grape varieties are all the same but, the great dissimilarity among them and the peculiarities of each of them depend basically on the winemaking. 

Tenuta Musella - a winery and a relais - is an outstanding producer of Valpolicella wines, mentioned by Hugh Johnson on the World Atlas of Wine in 1969. Nowadays, this cellar fosters a traditional, sustainable winemaking, producing wine according to a biodynamic system. The XVI century house located at the winery has been painstakingly renovated, both respecting its original splendor and modern day luxuries.

Set on 400 hectares, Tenuta Musella grows grapes for a large range of wines, which are produced and bottled in loco, and left aging in a charming cellar.

 


Giorgio Favotto

Author