Valpolicella Wine Tasting Tour
A Tour of one of Italy’s Best Red Wines
In this guide we are going to take a look at exploring the region of Italy that is responsible for producing two of Italy’s most well-known red wines.
We have a similar guide focusing one of these wines, Amarone della Valpolicella.
In this guide, we will be looking at the lesser of these two wines, Valpolicella.
Where is Valpolicella from?
Valpolicella is produced in the Valpolicella region of Italy. The interesting thing about this area, is that it is initially famous for the production of Amarone.
Valpolicella is kind of a secondary, more consumer focused wine that is produced in the area. The actual name Valpolicella is that of both the region, and the wine.
The name itself means Valley of Many Cellars, an absolutely perfect name for this incredible Italian wine producing region.
Not only is it an area that produces two of the best Italian red wines, it is also an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Verdant Valleys butt up against the foothills of the Lessini Mountains, a truly breathtaking part of Italy.
The region of Valpolicella lay within the Province of Verona, with the City of Verona being the region capital.
To the western edge of the Valpolicella is Lake Garda, another area that is well worth exploring if you decide to undertake a Valpolicella wine tour.
What is Valpolicella Like?
Valpolicella is one of Italy’s more simple wines. It is very much an everyday wine. Chianti is the most commonly drunk wine in Italy, with Valpolicella being the second most drunk.
The nice thing about Valpolicella, is that it can be appreciated even by people that are not really red wine lovers.
It is a light, very fragrant wine. It is very reminiscent of Beaujolais Nouveau in many ways. And indeed, this is hardly surprising, as Valpolicella producers use some similar winemaking techniques to those used to make Beaujolais Nouveau.
As mentioned above, Valpolicella is a very fragrant wine, and this really adds to the enjoyment of drinking it.
This is mostly due to the fact that Valpolicella is not laid down for long before being sent out for consumption, just a few weeks at most.
This means that the bouquet maintains the heady smells of fresh grapes, and summer sunshine. Taste wisely Valpolicella is not a challenging wine in the slightest.
As Italian red wines go, it is one of the simplest of all, a very refreshing wine, which is surprising for a red.
Dryness is not something this wine inflicts with much aggression. It is dry enough to clear the palate (which is why Valpolicella is one of the main table wines in Italian homes), but not dry enough to stop it being drunk just for pleasure, without accompanying food.
Overall, Valpolicella is an excellent Italian red wine that combines a consumer focused price, with a less challenging drinking experience.
Next time you are looking for a bottle of red to accompany food, skip the more usual candidates and try a Valpolicella instead, you will not be disappointed.
Why is Valpolicella a Famous Italian Wine?
Valpolicella is a renowned Italian red wine for a number of reasons. First is because it is one of the only young reds to be made in Italy.
We usually associated young reds with France. Those once a year productions that are bottled and drunk within weeks of the grape being picked.
Alongside this, Valpolicella is also, next to Chianti, the favorite table wine for the average person in Italy.
If you go to a family diner at an Italian home, you will almost always be served either a Chianti or a Valpolicella with your food.
And finally, Valpolicella is famed because of the production technique that often uses leftover grapes from Amarone production, which helps to give Valpolicella a little more body than other young wines.
How to Get to the Valpolicella Region
There really are only two options for getting to the Valpolicella region. One is by road, the other by air.
By road, the region is best accessed from the City of Verona. There are two major highways running to Verona. One runs west to east from Milan to Venice and the other one is the south to north from Modena to Trento.
By far the easiest way to gain access to the Valpolicella region is to fly in to the Verona International Airport.
The city is served by a number of European airlines, and there are also plenty of international flights linking out from other major European travel hubs.
Where to Stay in the Valpolicella Region
The City of Verona is the only real logical choice to use as a base for a tour of the Valpolicella region of Italy.
This is a historic city that dates back to Roman times. Indeed, Verona has a thriving tourist industry of its own.
This means that if you do take a wine tour of the Valpolicella region, you can also spend some time exploring this charming city, with its hundreds of years of history.
It is notable for its cultural influences and also its fantastic local cuisine as well as it’s Amarone and Valpolicella wines.
Best Valpolicella Vineyards to Visit
Any trip to the Valpolicella region for a wine tour, should really take in vineyards that produce both the more consumer focused Valpolicella, and also the premium Amarone wine.
However, in this guide we are only going to give examples of pure Valpolicella wineries.
Villa Mosconi Bertani
This is a Valpolicella winery that is owned and operated by Gaetano Bertani. Set within the grounds of an impressive manner, the estate has been producing Valpolicella since the 18th century.
Well worth visiting, as the house itself is a historical landmark, so you can soak up some wine tasting and cultural influences in one package.
Villa Della Torre
Villa Della Torre is owned by the Allegrini family, who had been at the forefront of Valpolicella for a long time.
Their own particular version of Valpolicella, named Palazzo della Torre, comes from their ancient vineyard of the same name.
Well worth visiting, because they produce some of the best Valpolicella available.
Villa Serego Alighieri
Originally owned by the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri, it is still operated by people descended from him today.
The winery is set in a beautiful landscaped garden. Indeed, regardless of the wine tasting, this estate is worth visiting for a taste of the Italian culture of olden days. But of course, they also make exceptional Valpolicella.
Which are the Best Valpolicella to Taste?
Minini Valpolicella Ripasso 2012
This is a surprisingly good Valpolicella at the budget end of the scale from Majestic Wines.
Made in the Ripasso style, using the left over pressings from Amarone production, it has a slightly fuller body than standard Valpolicella; a fragrant wine, with a bouquet of berries and violets.
The vivid ruby color hints at the great taste, dry enough to clear the palate but not too dry that it cannot be drunk just for pleasure.
Valpolicella Ripasso 2013 Villa Borghetti
This Ripasso style Valpolicella, again from Majestic Wines, moves up a little in price. But it is well worth the extra.
Produced in the Valpolicella Classico region; the more traditional home of premium Amarone wines with spicy bouquet and undertones of cherry.
This very dark Valpolicella has more body structure and a perfect accompaniment to rich meat dishes.
Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2012 La Casetta
This is also another Ripasso wine from Majestic Wine, the very definition of what a good Valpolicella should be.
Fresh, cherry fruit bouquet; with a taste that remains refreshing until the somewhat dry finish. It is excellent for enjoying on its own.
Taking in the Surroundings
If you are thinking about taking a wine tour of the Valpolicella region, but would like to be able to take a break and do something else while you are visiting, then there are plenty of activities and attractions in the area, such as:
Visit Piazza Bra
Touted as the largest piazza in the world, this is a place where you can soak up the full spectrum of Italian culture in one hit. A beautiful square, lined with cafes and bars to suit all tastes and budgets.
Take a tour around Castelvecchio
This is a true Medieval Castle that is remarkably preserved. Construction began in the mid-1300s, and the castle became the tactical advantage that protected the area from aggressive neighbors and a great old castle to take a look around.
Enjoy an open air opera at Verona Arena
Once a simple piazza, this amphitheater is now home to one of the best open air opera venues in the world.
There are night performances all year round and daily performances during summer which are definitely something for art lovers.
Classic Valpolicella Wines
It is very difficult to split Valpolicella in to classic and modern varieties.
Simply because this is a mass produced, young wine, that has been made in the same way for a very long time.
Possibly the best thing to say, is that a classic Valpolicella will usually be made using the Ripasso method.
This involves taking the left over grape pressings from Amarone production, and adding them to the fresh grapes the wine is made from. This results in a Valpolicella with more body, and a deeper color.
Modern Valpolicella Wines
Modern Valpolicella production is a well-oiled machine. Valpolicella has taken its place on supermarket shelves around the world, alongside the better known Chianti.
This wine is produced in a fast, production line style of winery. Valpolicella produced in this way will be turned into wine from the raw grapes, and sent out for sales within just a few weeks.
This results in a much lighter wine than the Ripasso variety. It is one of the few red wines that is actually great to drink on a summer day, just for pleasure.
Valpolicella – a fantastic every day table wine
Valpolicella is often overlooked, as it sits in the shadow of its more upmarket sibling, Amarone. But this does not make Valpolicella a lesser wine. It is entirely different to Amarone in every way.
Valpolicella makes a fantastic every day table wine to accompany meat dishes such as beef, lamb or pork. It can even work well with game such as venison.
Next time you are buying wine to eat with a rich, meaty meal, try a bottle of Valpolicella, it is sure to delight.
Mac is an avid traveller, who spends many months of the year wandering the world with a laptop and a suitcase. He has been a wine lover for over 30 years, and has a fondness for Italian reds, although don’t ask his opinion on the Barolo Wars. On his travels he has tasted a great many wines. Some good, some bad, and some that should never have been sold for human consumption.