Friday, March 02, 2007

Northern Italian Wines - Valpolicella

After our first night in Sirmione, we went on a day of wine tasting in the Valpolicella. Valpolicella is a wine region in the Veneto that is famous for the production of Amarone. Amarone is a rich, flavorful wine that is made from partially dried grapes of the Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara varieties. The grapes actually start to resemble raisins by the time they are crushed for the wine. Here's a sample video (note: QT required) of how the drying works. Because the grapes are partially dried, a much larger quantity of grapes is required to produce Amarone than some of the other blends (like Bardolino) where the grapes are crushed right after harvesting. The larger number of juicier grapes also makes the wine stronger and somewhat more expensive than normally produced wine from the same grapes.


I'm not sure if it's universal, but all of the wineries we visited in Europe required an advanced appointment for wine tasting and tours. From Sirmione, we drove along this route through Verona to Bertani Vineyards in Grezzana. We arrived a few minutes late, but nobody was in the tasting room to greet us. We wandered around for a few minutes and a very nice old Italian man came out and explained to us (almost entirely in Italian) that the tasting room person would be back shortly. In the meantime, he offered to give us a tour of the facility. It ended up being a wonderful tour, with him throwing out a few occasional English words and me understanding about 10% of his Italian. Despite the language barrier, it was a wonderful tour. When we finished, the tasting room person had returned and we sampled a spectacular array of Bertani Amarone wine. We also learned that the reason they hadn't been expecting us was that we had made an appointment at the Bertani Villa location, but had instead gone to their main production facility. I'm sorry we missed the villa, but the main facility was quite impressive, with a mix of very modern equipment and some very old storage tanks. You can see ratings on some of Bertani's wines here.


From Bertani we took a short-cut over a very narrow, winding road to the Allegrini Winery. Here, we were greeted with a very modern tasting room located in a building alongside their main production facility. Externally, it was very similar to Bertani - clearly a clean, modern working facility. We were greeted by a friendly Dutch woman who gave us a tour of the caves and then a very comprehensive tasting. Their wines were also spectacular. But, they didn't have the same selection of old vintages that were available at Bertani. These were more recent releases. You can see ratings on some of Allegrini's wines here.

Masi & Ser�go Alighieri

Our last stop of the day was a short drive to the estate of Ser�go Alighieri, part of Masi, where they have been making wines for over 650 years! At this location, they offer tastings to the public of Masi and Ser�go Alighieri branded wines. It's a beautiful, gated estate with a wonderful old building where they host the tastings. They had a full wine shop here with a large variety of new and old vintages, small and large-format bottles. They let you choose from a large variety of wines and design your own tasting, so go prepared! We enjoyed quite a few wines and did not leave empty handed. It was a great day, filled with wonderful wines. You can see ratings on some of Masi's wines (including Ser�go Alighieri) here and some great photos below.

To see just the posts from this trip, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

During my italian tour i visited the Valpolicella region. I had a wine tasting at Fratelli Vogadori winery in Negrar ( A small winery with powerful wines, it has been very interisting and the place was so nice!