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Welcome to our big Valpolicella test 2023. Here we present all the Valpolicella wines we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best Valpolicella wine for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy Valpolicella.




Summary

  • Valpolicella wines come from the region of the same name in northern Italy. The dry red wines must be made from specified grape varieties. The most important grapes in a Valpolicella are the Corvina Veronese grape and the Rondinella grape. Other grape varieties, including Molinara and Sangiovese, are also commonly used in Valpolicella wines.
  • Valpolicella Classico wines have a relatively short ageing period of one year. Variations of Valpolicella Classico often have a longer storage time and special production methods.
  • Valpolicella wines tend to be dry in taste, as they have a relatively high alcohol content. Nevertheless, you can taste the fruity and sometimes tart flavour. On the finish, Valpolicella is bitter and has a taste of bitter almonds.

The best Valpolicella: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying Valpolicella

What are the characteristics of Valpolicella wines?

Valpolicella refers to an area in the north of Italy. The area stretches from Verona to Lake Garda. Valpolicella is divided into three growing areas:

  • Valpolicella Classico
  • Valpolicella Valpantena
  • Valpalicella Orientale

When speaking of Valpolicella wine, we usually mean Valpolicella Classico or simply Valpolicella. Valpolicella Classica is the name given to the wine when the grapes were harvested in the Classico area. In the other two growing areas, we speak of Valpolicella.

Valpolicella wines are characterised by the special weather conditions in the Veneto region.(Image source: unsplash.com / Kym Ellis)

Valpolicella wines are red wines made from very specific grape varieties. The wines also have an alcohol content of at least 11% vol. The acidity of at least 5g/l and the dry extract of at least 18g/l are also precisely specified. In the Valpolicella region, different variations of Valpolicella Classico have been developed over the years. The three most important variations are Valpolicella Ripasso, Recioto della Valpolicella and Amarone della Valpolicella.

How is Valpolicella made?

Valpolicella wines may only be made from certain grape varieties. Several regulations have been written for the declaration of a Valpolicella wine. A Valpolicella Classico consists of 45%-95% Corvina Veronese grapes and 5%-30% Rondinella grapes. In addition, a maximum of 25% of the wine can be replaced by other grape varieties. The Corvina Veronese variety may be replaced by the Corvinone Veronese variety up to 50%. Often, grape varieties such as Molinara, Barbera and Sangiovese are also used. Originally, the Molinara variety had to be present in a Valpolicella wine. What makes Valpolicella wines special are the grape varieties, the climate and the soils.

The area where the vines for Valpolicella are grown is important for the taste of the wine. The warm wind from the lake, the cool air from the Alps and the sunny mountain slopes enhance the fruity aroma of the wines.

As the vines grow mainly in valleys, cool winds blow down from the mountains into the valleys. On the other side is Lake Garda, from which warm winds blow through the vines. The soil is also crucial for Valpolicella wines.

Who is Valpolicella suitable for?

Valpolicella wines often have very complex flavours. Valpolicella usually tastes very fruity but still has a certain acidity and can therefore be stored for longer. Although long storage would be possible, Valpolicella Classico is usually drunk very young. The ageing of the wine does not change the taste significantly and it is therefore usually sold one year after fermentation. It is a relatively light wine with complex flavours. Valpolicella Classico tastes fruity and often has a nutty aroma. The wine is bitter and has some acidity, yet the wine retains its lightness. Valpolicella Classico is the perfect summer wine. The wine is often drunk chilled and goes very well with light food. Light wines go best with food that does not drown out the taste of the wine.

How much does Valpolicella cost?

Valpolicella Classico wines come in different price categories. There are price differences depending on the quality of the wine. The cheapest wines start at about 5 euros per bottle (0.75 l). The more expensive wines can be found for up to about 70 euros per bottle (0.75 l). Online or in supermarkets you can find Valpolicella Classicos between 5 and 20 euros per bottle of wine. When buying, it is especially important that the wines have DOC or DOCG labels. The grape varieties used should also be looked at. The more of the Corvina grape variety there is, the better the wine tastes. Corvina grapes give the wine its typical taste. Valpolicella wines can be bought in many supermarkets. If you are looking for a better quality Valpolicella Classico, you have to expect a higher price.

What are the alternatives to Valpolicella wines?

There are countless alternatives to Valpolicella wines. Various red and white wines, sparkling wines, rosés and many other alcoholic alternatives can be found in every supermarket. In this article, we have concentrated mainly on Italian red wines. In this section you will find good red wine alternatives to Valpolicella that also come from Italy.
Italian Wine Description
Brunello di Montalcino Brunello di Montalcino wines are produced around the Montalcino mountain. The vines are grown on the slopes of the mountain. The wine may only be made from Sangiovese Grosso grapes. The wine is warm and tart in flavour and has a minimum alcohol content of 12.5% by volume.
Barolo The dry Barolo wines originate from Piedmont, which is located in the northwest of Italy. The wine was originally produced in the municipality of Barolo, which is how it got its name. In the meantime, the wine is produced in 10 other surrounding municipalities. The wine may only be made from Nebbiolo grapes. The wine must have a minimum alcohol content of 13% and be stored for at least 38 months.
Barbaresco Barbaresco wines, like Barolo, come from Piedmont in northern Italy. The wine is produced in three communes, Barbaresco, Treiso and Neive. The wine may only be made from the Nebbiolo grape variety. Babaresco has a shorter ageing period than Barolo wines. In terms of taste, the wine is dry and harmonious with a minimum alcohol content of 12.5% vol.

Of course, there is also a large selection of delicious Italian white wines. If you like, or even prefer white wine to red wine, you will certainly find something that suits your taste among the white wines.

Decision: What types of Valpolicella wines are there and which is right for you?

The classic Valpolicella wine has evolved over the years and new production methods have changed the taste of the wine. The three main variations are:

  • Valpolicella Ripasso
  • Recioto della Valpolicella
  • Amarone della Valpolicella

The three variations have only recently been produced. However, it should be noted that it is mainly the Amarone della Valpolicella that is responsible for the higher demand of Valpolicella wines.

What distinguishes a Valpolicella Ripasso and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Valpolicella Ripasso is a wine from the Valpolicella region. The wine is often dark red, but becomes lighter with time. The wine often has a similar taste to Amarone, although Ripasso is lighter and more complex.

Advantages
  • Complex taste due to second fermentation
  • lower prices
  • lighter wine
Disadvantages
  • medium alcohol content
  • weakened form of Amarone

Valpolicella Ripasso are classified as DOC. This designation confirms that the wine comes from Valpolicella and that the specified regulations have been complied with. Valpolicella Ripasso must have at least 12.5% alcohol volume and an acidity of 5.0g/l. Furthermore, the Ripasso must consist of the following grape varieties: 45% – 95% Corvina Veronese, 5-30% Rondinella and a maximum of 15% other grape varieties, with only 10% coming from one grape variety. In addition, indigenous grape varieties may be added up to 10%. The production of Ripasso is crucial. The name Ripasso means renewed passage. After the first fermentation, when the wine is already fermented, the wine is added to the remains of the Amarone, making the wine darker and increasing the alcohol content.

What distinguishes a Recioto della Valpolicella and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Recioto della Valpolicella is the sweet wine from the Valpolicella region. The red wine with its violet reflections is an intense tasting wine. Often, aromas such as dried cherries, raspberries or vanilla can be tasted.

Advantages
  • Sweet taste
  • Fruity
  • Lower alcohol content
Disadvantages
  • Less well known and therefore harder to find
  • Higher prices

Since 2010, Recioto della Valpolicella has belonged to the DOCG. The name Recioto is therefore protected and must fulfil certain conditions. Recioto della Valpolicella must have an alcohol content of at least 12% vol. and an acidity of 5.0% g/l. The grape varieties that can be used are also specified. An official Recioto della Valpolicella consists of 45% – 95% Corvina Veronese, 5-30% Rondinella. A maximum of 15% consists of other grape varieties, with a maximum of 10% coming from one grape variety. Recioto wine is made with grapes that have been dried for at least 120 days. This allowed the sugar to be concentrated, which is ultimately responsible for the sweetness in the wine. The wine is not fermented completely so that the sugar remains contained.

What distinguishes an Amarone della Valpolicella and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Amarone della Valpocella is a fruity red wine from northern Italy. The taste of the wine is very full, fruity often mixed with sultana accents. Amarone is known for its bitter taste, hence the name of the wine (Amaro = bitter).

Advantages
  • Fruity
  • sultana accents
  • nutty taste
Disadvantages
  • High alcohol content
  • Prices are higher
  • Bitter taste

The grape varieties that can be used are prescribed by law. Since 2009, Amarone has been a DOCG wine – an Italian seal of quality. Amarone must be produced from 45% – 95% Corvina Veronese, 5-30% Rondinella and a maximum of 0-15% from other grape varieties, with only a maximum of 10% coming from one grape variety. A maximum of 0-10% indigenous vines may be added. Amarone della Valpolicella must also have an alcohol content of at least 14% vol. and an acidity of at least 5.0 g/l. This high alcohol content can be achieved through the special production process. The grapes should be far enough apart to allow the warm air to pass between them. In the first two weeks of October, the grapes are harvested and then dried, this process is called appassimento. Drying concentrates the flavours and sugars that later determine the taste in the wine.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate Valpolicella wines

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate Valpolicella wines. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular wine is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • Place of origin
  • Grape variety
  • Flavour
  • Alcohol content
  • Matching food

Place of origin

Valpolicella wines come from the Valpolicella region. The area lies north of the city of Verona and east of Lake Garda. The Valpolicella area has five valleys and is divided into different zones. The original zone from which vines for Valpolicella wine are grown is called Classico. Wine has been made in this zone for over 2000 years. Wines from the Classico zone have a more intense flavour, which is shaped by the unique weather conditions. Another zone in the Valpolicella area is called Valpantena. Wines from the Valpantena zone have a special freshness and lightness that is especially popular in summer. In addition, wines from the Valpantena zone have a longer shelf life. The last zone is called Valpolicella Orientale. Valpolicella Classico wines from this area often have a very fruity taste, which is broken up by accents of herbs.

Grape variety

Valpolicella Classico are red wines, the vines are accordingly dark. The grape varieties are precisely specified and controlled for Valpolicella wines. The grapes may only come from the Valpolicella area and only single grape varieties are allowed in Valpolicella wines.

Valpolicella wines consist mainly of indigenous grape varieties. (Image source: unsplash.com / Samuel Zeller)

It is important that there is enough space between the vines so that the warm air can see through between the vines. This constant dryness on the grapes is responsible for the higher alcohol content. The higher vines are of better quality and produce a better tasting wine. Valpolicella wines must be made from the following grape varieties:

grape variety percent in Valpolicella
Corvina 45% – 95%
Rondinella 5% – 30%
Molinara This grape variety was originally required to be used, but is now optional.
Corvinone May replace up to 50% of the grape variety Corvina.
Oseleta, Dindarella, Corbina, Spigamonte, Turchetta May replace up to 15% but only 10% may come from one grape variety.
Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Teroldego These grape varieties are indigenous and may make up to 10% of Valpolicella.

Valpolicella wines are mainly made from indigenous grape varieties, which give the wine its fruity-bitter taste.

Taste

Valpolicella wines have a very fruity taste with a typical bitter aroma in the finish. The bitter taste is reminiscent of bitter almonds. Many Valpolicella wines taste of berries and cherries, often you can also sense a nutty flavour. Valpolicella wines get their distinctive taste from the special weather conditions in the Valpolicella area. The different zones in the Valpolicella area differ in the type of soil, the winds and the sunlight on the vines. The best wines are produced in the Classico zone. These often have the strongest aroma and complex flavour structures. In the Valpantena zone, the wines are often sweeter, while wines from the Orientale zone stand out with their fruity taste. The altitude at which the vines grow also has an influence. Grapes grown at higher altitudes often have a more complex flavour. The dry winds concentrate the sugars and give the wine a higher alcohol content later on.

Alcohol content

The alcohol content varies for Valpolicella wines. However, there are regulations for a minimum alcohol content. Valpolicella wines must have an alcohol content of at least 11% by volume.

According to our research, most Valpolicella Classicos have about 12.5% alcohol.

Since Valpolicellas are dry wines, they also have a higher alcohol content. If you are looking for a wine with a lower alcohol content, Valpolicella is not the right wine for you.

Matching food

Valpolicella wines complement Veronese cuisine very well. Whether with risotto or a plate of spaghetti, you can always find a Valpolicella to match. A Valpolicella wine is just as suitable as an appetiser. As an accompaniment to a cheese platter, poultry or a fish dish, Valpolicella is the right wine.

Valpolicella wines go very well with light cheeses and other light dishes. (Image source: unsplash.com / Lana Abie)

Valpolicella Classico is a rather light, fruity wine that is especially suitable in summer. The wine is also drunk chilled, which is why a glass of Valpolicella is the ideal refreshment on a hot day. As a basic rule, one can say that the dishes should not drown out the wine. The same rule applies vice versa. So with a light meal, a light wine should also be chosen. With a strongly spiced meal, a strong wine should be chosen.

Valpolicella wines tend to be light wines and therefore go best with lightly spiced meals or starters.

When buying a Valpolicella, the meal should already have been chosen. Wine labels usually contain a short section with recommendations for matching dishes. This way, even wine novices can choose the right wine.

Interesting facts about Valpolicella wines

What is the shelf life of a bottle of Valpolicella?

There are three factors to look for in a closed bottle of wine:

  • Acidity
  • Sugar
  • Tannin

If there is a lot of acid in the wine, bacteria formation is inhibited. The alcohol content also plays a role in the shelf life. The more alcohol, the longer a wine will keep. From about 12.5% alcohol, you can store the wine without hesitation. Sugar also has a preserving effect, so there is no need to look at the alcohol content of dessert wines. After opening the bottle, red wines can be kept for 5-7 days. It is important to store the wine in the refrigerator after opening. The formation of bacteria is slowed down in the refrigerator. To prevent the opened wine from becoming stale, the air supply to the wine should be cut off.

At what drinking temperature does Valpolicella taste best?

There are different indications for the best drinking temperature for Valpolicella wines. For Valpolicella Classico, the wine tastes best between 14°-16° C. Amarone della Valpolicella, however, should be drunk at around 18° C.

Which glass is used for Valpolicella wines?

Valpolicella is a red wine, so red wine glasses should be used. Red wine glasses are wider at the top, as oxidation is to be promoted in red wines. The more air that can get to the wine, the faster it oxidises. Oxidation helps to bring out the full flavour of the wine. Cheers!

Picture source: 123rf.com / 44215589

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