I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard about Valpolicella at least once in your lifetime. It is the name of a zone full of gentle hills near Verona and it gave a name to the Valpolicella wine that people appreciate around the world. I am not a wine expert but since I lived in Italy I tasted a variety of white and red wines. I participated in a wine tasting before and I am probably an average wine fan: love it with whole my heart. When we left the Dolomites, we decided to expand our holiday and stay for a little bit longer in Italy. Verona and Valpolicella seemed to be just perfect. Last week, we participated in two wine tasting and here is my review, so you could pick up your own way.
Valpolicella Classico is made from five grape varieties: Rondinella, Corvina, Corvinione, Oseleta and Molinara. For an amateur, it is pretty hard to distinguish the grapes seen on the grapevines but to the experts, this is a piece of cake. The location of Valpolicella is stunning and just perfect for wine cultivation. From the top of the hills on a sunny day, you can see the Adriatic Sea. The quality of the soil is outstanding as it is of a volcanic origin. Local microclimate brings a fresh breeze from the sea and from the nearby lake Garda. The cantina here is well ventilated which makes the drying process of grapes possible.
Out of the variety of grapes grown in Valpolicella a series of red wines are produced: Valpolicella Classico, famous Amarone, sweet Recioto and Ripasso.
Wine Tasting in Cantina Fratelli Vogadori
Although we all prefer white wines, we could not miss the opportunity of wine tasting in Valpolicella. In a sunny afternoon, we started our tasting in a cantina called Fratelli Vogadori. We entered the building, crossed a cellar following the arrows and were seated at the table with five bottles or red wine.
One of the owners was our guide. We got a list of wines that we should taste, bread with olive oil and a spittoon. One after another, the red wine filled our glasses and through the story told by one of the owners we did our best to taste vanilla, cherry, chocolate, and tobacco. Cherry was the easiest to spot. One of the wines we tasted was especially wonderful: it smelled fresh and fruity and after we tasted it, our mouths were full of vanilla. An amazing experience that involved not only our senses of taste and smell but also our memories. Our guide explained that what we sense in a wine depends on our personal experience and memories.
We bought a few bottles of wine there and went back home completely satisfied. But this was not over. Next day we went to a different place and the wine tasting there was a totally different one.
Wine Tasting in Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde
After the first wine tasting in Valpolicella we expected a similar thing but we were completely wrong. This time, we got caught by the owners full of passion, joy and proud. We booked a wine tasting combined with lunch and arrived at noon, in a very hot day. The old buildings and well-ventilated garden welcomed us with desired fresh breeze. Ilaria and Nicola, a couple who owns the place, took us directly for a guided tour around their property.
We started from a huge room dedicated to grapes drying process. All grapes, collected manually, are stored for at least 100 days from November to mid-February, depending on the weather and harvest. The room was empty but watching the wooden boxes we could imagine how hard it is to keep them safe from mold until they are ready for a fermentation process.
Ilaria explained that each variety of grapes used in Valpolicella wine gives a different taste. Rondinella tastes like plums, Corvina and Corvinone like cherries, Molinara like green pepper, and Oseleta like mulberries. From the drying room, we went down to the cellar, where the smell of mold was overwhelming. Old wooden barrels and modern metal ones were laying there, working hard to produce the excellent wine.
Ilaria, a charming woman who laughed a lot, explained the whole process of wine making, including all difficulties, obstacles, and unexpected events. Then, Nicola came and are told us a story of the family. His family has been making wine for the last three hundred years! The expertise in the matter is the air they breathe from the moment they were born. Fascinating.
We finally got seated under the white umbrella in a tranquil green garden. The silence was only intermittent by the sound of cicada and gently running water. What a relaxing place! Nicola brought us the local cheese and sausages and the feast began. The taste of wines along with the local specialities was amazing but the final was mind blowing. To fully enjoy the last wine, Nicola brought a block of dark chocolate. It is impossible to describe how incredible it tasted. The whole experience was just fantastic! It took us more than three hours and we had to run before Ilaria showed us the grounds, which was a shame. The owners told us that we could stay with them until the evening and I think that next time I will dedicate the whole day to stay in this marvellous place.
Which wine tasting to choose?
These two wine tasting experiences were picked up randomly. I had no previous contact with any of these places nor asked for suggestions to any of my friends. Obviously, each of these places has their own way of showing the excellency of the Valpolicella wines. It is up to you, what you prefer. I’d say that I should probably go back to Santa Maria Valverde because of the whole experience. I think that I tasted not only the wine there but most of all, what this region and the family business is all about. I deeply appreciate the passion of Ilaria and Nicola and their hospitality. If you have a free afternoon in Verona, a visit in Santa Maria Valverde is highly recommended.
Disclosure: this is NOT a sponsored post. I have not received any gratification from the companies described. All opinions are mine.