Beep, Beep! Hello it’s Griffy in his Canary yellow Fiat 500 convertible. Hop in, we on our way to Verona, Vapolicella, Italy, the “Valley of many Cellars.”
Palazzo Della Torre is a beautiful example of the wines from this area. It’s made from a blend of 70% Corvina Veron, 25% of Rundinella, and 5% Sangiovese. This is a wonderfully tasty wine, with flavors of dark cherries and plums, a full-bodied experience your palate will long remember.
The wine is made from a method called “Ripasso”, the grapes are harvested and 70% are vilified right away. The other 30% are allow to dry until they look like raisins. Not totally dry like raisins, but about 60% of the moisture is allow to dry away. The fresh wine from these grapes is then blended with the fermenting juice of the dried grapes, which triggers a second fermentation yielding a very tasty, complex wine that is just so good. Let’s pull into the Allegrini Vineyard and have some.
The Allegrini family has been making wine here in Fumane di Valpolicella since 1858. They call Palazzo Della Torre the “Baby Amarone”, the more accurate description might be the affordable Amarone.
Amarone, which in Italian means “the great bitter,” is blended of Corvina 40% to 70%, Rondinella 20% to 40% and Molinara 5% to 25%. After harvest all the grapes are allow to dry, the process is called Appassimento, “to dry,” or Rasinate, “to shrivel.” This allows the sugars to concentrate and increase. The juice also stays in contact with the skins, increasing the intensity of the color and the flavor of the wine. Back in the day, this processes used to occur on straw mats in sealed barns. Today, the process is done in stainless steel drying chambers.
This yields a raisiny full body, with little acid and an off-the-charts alcohol level. Then typically the wine is aged for 5 years.
Lots of things can (and do) go wrong in this process, which is why your typical Amarone wine has a lofty $80 retail price. That’s why I say that Palazzo Dalla Torre, at $20 a bottle, is a delicious yet cost-effective alternative.
Before we get back into the Fiat, let’s talk about one more wine made here in Valpolicella. It’s made with the promace left over from making the Amarone wine, and is called Ripasso Valpolicella. Ripasso means to “repass.” In this process they pour the Valpolicella blend wine through the promace from making the Amarnone. This adds color and complexity to the Valpolicella and cuts its bitterness.
Before we leave Verona let’s take a look at its history. Wine history here goes back, like all over Italy, to the Greeks. But its war and politics that really got wine production going here. War between the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century caused frequent blockades of Venetian ports, cutting the supply of wine from the Greek Isles. Unacceptable! So, enterprising Venetians pushed into the hills of Verona, and with a little ingenuity and a strong profit motive, the rest is history!