Veneto, although one of the most famous wine regions of Italy, produces huge quantities of wine, but Tuscany, and Piedmont market their wiens at higher prices and enjoy a more respectful acceptance of their wines.
Veneto is home to Soave, Bianco di Custoza, Bardolino, Valpolicella and many others.
Soave is quaffing wine, fruity, light to medium-bodied white wine, almost exclusively made using the garganega.
Bardolino on the other hand is a pale red medium-bodied wine suitable for lighter meals and Italian antipasti (green olives, marinated squid, marinated octopus, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, capicollo, cheeses, sausages).
The most famous of all Veneto wines is Valpolicella, which can be Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classico, from the heart of the region, Valpolicella Superiore (one more degree of alcohol than the regular wine of that vintage), amarone, from dried grapes, and recitto della Valpolicella, dried from the upper parts of the bunch and thus sweet.
The following grape varieties may be used – corvine, rondinella, and molinara, corvinone, and croatina. Most wineries use only three these being corvina Veronese, molinara and rondinella.
For amarone each grape bunch is inspected, rotten grapes discarded. All bunches are placed on specially designed wooden trays to be dried in a well-ventilated attic. During this period, which may by up to 120 days, grapes lose at least 30 per cent of their weight, concentrating sugars, aromatics, and tannins. They are subjected to a controlled noble rot, of which corvina is most susceptible.
Corvina provides richness, rondinella colour and tannin, and molinara rounds off the blend.
Amarone and recioto della Valpolicella are always high in alcohol, 15 per cent often more, and should be enjoyed in moderation. This wine is always full-bodied, concentrated, intense, rich and luscious, fruity but offers a lot of nuance.
Amarone can be simply that, or classico from the heart of the appellation, or from a single vineyard.
In all cases, amarone age well and require food to appreciate their depth and full flavour.
Respectable wineries sell poor quality wines of unsuccessful vintages in bulk to lesser establishments in an attempt to protect their reputation.
It is important to buy from reputable producers, and select the vintage with due care.
Once amarone is made, the lees are collected and added to regular Valpolicella and re-fermented. This process, called ripasso, which yields more flavourful, dark, and fuller, bodied regular wines.
Amarone wines benefit from decanting at least two hours before enjoyment.
The better known and reliable wineries are – Qunitarelli, Agricola Masi, Fratelli Tedeschi, Tommasi Viticoltore, Azienda Agricola Gamba, Cacotto del Merlo Campagnola, Tezz Ma Roat and Zenato.
Amarone Le Quare, 2004, Azienda Agricola Gamba
Composed of corvina (50 Per cent), corvinona (30), rondinella (10), molinara (5), and croatina (5), this is a massive wine to be enjoyed with appropriately flavourful dishes, i.e. roast rib of beef, game stews, beef stews, beef shanks, braised short ribs.
085340 $ 50.95
Recitto della Valpolicella Classico, Cacotto del Merlo Campagnola
Superbly balanced, concentrated and powerful.
084079 375 ml $ 33.95
Amarone Classico, 2004, Tommasi Viticoltore
This rich amarone gushes with ripe cherry and plum aromas, buttressed with vanilla and toasty flavours from barrel aging.
Dry and round with ripe tannins, this full-bodied wine is best with roasted wild boar, or beef stews, or aged hard cheeses.
356220 $ 52.95
Amarone Classico, 2004, Zenato
Crushed current and dried fruit aromas dominate. Full bodied with fien tannins, this powerful wine requires at least two years of cellaring.
413179 $ 52.95
Amarone Classico, 2004, Fratelli Tedeschi
Excellent deep flavour, layered in the mouth, evolving and constantly changing from nice to great. It intense, well balanced and possesses a long aftertaste.
433417 $ 44.95
Valpolixcella Ripasso, 2005, Tezz Ma Roat
This roand and fruity wine is well balanced and specifically suited with mushroom ravioli, or gnocchi.
084053 $ 17.95
Capitel dei Nicalo Valpolicella Classico Superiore, 2006, Fratelli Tedeschi
Tedeschi is a family winery with a reputation for consistently high quality. This wine was made with grapes subjected to a short drying process. It is full bodied, fruity, rich and luscious.
984997 $ 18.95