Monte dei Ragni, DOC Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Verona, Veneto, Italy, 2013
On the new style of Valpolicella
Where did the fresh fruity 12-13 percent Valipolicella normale go? The example tasted here, a gift, was a surprise in more ways than one – a 15% Valpolicella, albeit a superiore with nominally 1% alcohol more than a normale. The rules  say a minimum of 11% for a normale, and 12% for a superiore.
A little investigation highlighted Decanter magazine’s timely article, which says it all . It seems that the growing popularity of Amarone, with an increasing availability of the lees byproduct, which has fed the pricier ripasso style, has now leaked into straight Valpolicella, to create a sort of mini-Amarone. This style is atypical of the Classico DOC.
This wine: lot No. L240/17 (on back label), bottle No. 002063, a blend of 55% corvina, 40% rondinella and a minority of molinara; grapes are harvested just prior to raisining (appassimento), fermentation is in stainless steel, with a second re-fermentation on amarone pomace, then aged part in stainless steel and part in tonneaux (900 litre wooden vats), before blending and bottling unfiltered; wax sealed coated natural cork closure, 15.5% abv, BBR, £46 (01/19)
Consumer tasting note: a bit of a hybrid Valpolicella, neither ripasso (rich bright fruit, with a touch of amarone complexity; 14-14.5% abv) nor amarone (a bit porty, with notes of black fruits and berries, date, fig and prune, coffee, cinnamon, liquorice, tar; 15-16%+ abv), but with the alcohol of the latter, which is nevertheless, in this case, unobtrusive, if as suggested, served cool for a red, at ~18C (so containing the alcohol). A profile of stewed and dried red berries, red plum juice, spicy red cherry jam, a touches of toast, black liquorice and tobacco, medium-full bodied, finishes soundly long.
Drink now – RTD, but will keep for 1-3 years – Wait. Decant for 30 minutes and savour the development.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity garnet, showing tears [no sediment].
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, fully developed, with aromas as they come, of stewed red berries edged with old polished wood, spice, a hint of toast, red plum juice, spicy red cherry jam, beeswax (quite strong), dried cranberry, black liquorice, rich dark red plum jam.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium (+) tannins, high alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture, with flavours of dried red berries – cranberry, cherry and currant, hint of tobacco. A very long length (~35s), with a clean finish of dried red berries edged with raisin and old polished wood, with a touch of bitterness on the end.
Quality: very good, perfectly balanced fresh acidity and ripe tannins with high alcohol, which is well-carried and does not impose; a strong intensity throughout with slightly lesser concentration, showing a better than moderate complexity, with evidence of time in wood and bottle. Finishes soundly long.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, but will keep for 3-5 years – a sound structure and balance, lots of intensity, concentration and length, but fully developed with nowhere to go.
- Valpolicella DOC [online[ accessed 07/03/19.
- The changing styles of Valpolicella: fresh vs dried grapes. Decanter Magazine, 08/01/19 [online] accessed 07/03/19.