A serious Valpolicella for a meat feast

by Marco Giovanetti

Valpolicella-Some hear the  name and cant help but think: cheap acidic wine for pizza or simple pasta. This was the image of the 1970’s and to this day some old school Italian wine drinkers have this image on their mind.

Think again because not all Valpolicella is made equal. What they have in common is that they are made with the holy trinity of Veronese grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. The producer can add up to their discretion up to 15% complementary varieties that include Rossignola, Negrara, Trentina, Barbera and Sangiovese.

There is simple Valpolicella Classico which is a light and quaffable wine. Just because it is easy to drink does not mean that it is bad in quality. This is an everyday wine usually fermented in steel, kept in tanks and bottled  in the spring after the harvest.

A step up in the ladder is Valpolicella Classico Superiore. The Superiore sees some wood aging in botti or barrique depending on the producer style. It is a more serious wine with a serious structure and more complexity. The Superiore can also be a ripasso which is basically a Valpolicella wine passed in the skin and seeds of its bigger fratello Amarone. This also imparts additional color, texture and flavor to the Valpolicella wine. Also, it induces a second fermentation of the wine that increases the wine’s alcoholic content.

Santi Ventale Valpolicella Superiore 2015. SAQ # 13942902, $24.00

The name ‘Ventale’ ( deriving from the Italian word ‘vento’ – wind) is inspired by the well-ventilated Illasi valley, where the Santi winery is situated.

Santi origins goes back to  1843, when Carlo Santi founded a wine cellar in the village of Illasi located behind the Lessini Mountains, between the hills of Colognola and Lavagno. Devoted to the production of Soave Classico, Pinot Grigio, Valpolicella and Amarone, Santi wines are mainly crafted from their own fruit, or from established relationships with local winegrowers. Fanti goals are to craft contemporary wines respecting the fundamental principles of the Valpolicella tradition.

I tasted the 2015 not long ago and it was one of the best Valpolicellas available in the Quebec market. It has concentrated notes of cherry, plum with a hint of menthol and prune. Fleshy mouthfeel with grainy tannins and very racy finale. Worth to try it for under $25. There is a bit left for grabs at the SAQ. Pair it with red meat on the BBQ.