Monday, July 30, 2018

Valpolicella, The Whole Story by Philip S.Kampe

                              The map of Italy highlighting the Valpolicella region
                   Besides Corvina, Valpolicella is home to many other varietals
                                                          Drying of the grapes

Its always uplifting to receive so many emails about my many Valpolicella articles.

Yes, my father gave me my first sip of Valpolicella when I was under ten years old. Yes, my wife, from Italian roots has family members who drink a glass or two of Valpolicella daily. They say it is for health reasons. And, yes, I always try to promote Valpolicella to others at dinners or parties at our house or bring a bottle as a gift to those with or without wine knowledge.

As a true novice Valpolicella wine lover, I am happy to share with you the facts I know about this wine and realize that there are numerous Valpolicella Ambassadors who know so much more then I do and live the life of true devotion to ‘everything Valpolicella.’

Where is Valpolicella’s home:
The province of Verona, east of Lake Garda.

Mild to cool Continental climate

Valpolicella styles:
Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Recioto, Amarone

When did Valpolicella receive DOC status?

Serve Valpolicella:
Slightly chilled

The Valpolicella Story:
Historical documents suggest that in the 5th century, Cassiodorus, minister of Theodoric the Great, suggested to the barbaric king of the Osthrogots that he should try a sweet wine from one of the territories of his kingdom.

The wine he suggested was from near Verona, which was the capital of the Italian territories that Theodoric the Great, his King, ruled.

Cassiodorus went on to explain that the wine comes in both red and white varieties and was made with the Corvina grape, which is left to dry (four months) until winter before being crushed.

Fast forward 1600 years and similar wines from the Valpolicella region are made using the same process and the same, Corvina varietal. The grapes are dried, many for four months, after harvest and turned into the Recioto style of Valpolicella.

The grape drying process is actually quite complex. The process activates more then four-hundred (400) genes that control the metabolism of the grapes, which activates secondary flavors and classic aromas of both Recioto and Amarone. Corvina may be the only grape that remains active and functioning during the drying process. Other grapes remain inactive. While being active when drying, the Corvina grape develops the classic aromatic profile of Amarone.

If the Corvina grapes grow in different appellations throughout the world, the grape would take on different characteristics and would not remain active when drying. That tells us that the perfect conditions for the Corvina varietal exist only in the Valpolicella region. It has been that way, as I illustrated, for thousands of years. This is why Valpolicella wines excite my palate..

Where did the name come from?
The name, Valpolicella, comes from Latin, Vallis Polis Cellas, which translated, means, ‘Valley of the Many Cellars.’

Are there other indigenous grape varieties grown in Valpolicella?
Yes, besides Corvina, many varieties exist. Molinara, Oseletto, Rondinella, Pelara, Garganega and Croatina, to name a few.

What you need to know about Valpolicella DOC:
Valpolicella is made using fresh grapes. Recioto and Amarone are made using dried grapes. The three most popular grapes in the Valpolicella wines include, Corvina (which you should know about), Molinara and Rondinella.

How do I read the labels?
If the label has Valpolicella Classico on it, the wine was produced in the historical wine producing area of Valpolicella. If the label just has Valpolicella, the wine comes from the extended Valpolicella wine producing region. Valpolicella grapes are always picked after the grapes for Recioto and Amarone. The quality may be the same, but, those grapes that are picked first are purposely picked out for their drying potential. Most grapes can’t withstand the four month drying period.

What should you expect when tasting Valpolicella?
Valpolicella is a medium-bodied, crisp, acidic wine with a secondary fruitiness, typical of the Corvina grape, which normally accounts for 70% of the grape blend. Its deep ruby color and soft palate appeal make for a terrific food wine. As I mentioned earlier, chill your bottles for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Are Valpolicella wines expensive?
No, quite the opposite.
Valpolicella wines are inexpensive and very affordable.

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, July 20, 2018

Valpolicella Is A Soft, Fruity Summer Wine by Philip S. Kampe

                                           Valpolicella DOC Celebrates ’50 Years’

During the summer, many of us tend to drink lighter wines-Rose, Prosecco and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.

So do I, to a point.

When that point arrives, my psyche tells me, quite loudly, ‘Where is the Valpolicella?’
Maybe its in my DNA-and it could be. In one of my articles I related to my readers that my father, a man with a curious palate, was a big fan of Valpolicella. Nearly every evening he would have a glass of Valpolicella before bedtime. It was his brandy.When company came over and my parents entertained, my father was most proud to open a couple bottles of Valpolicella and discuss the flavors and vintages with their guests. Needless to say, I sampled many vintages during the years and was so pleased to take part in a vertical tasting in Verona, hosted by the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella/ I’m sure that many of the wines I sampled were the same as my father poured.

2018 is the 50th Anniversary of Valpolicella receiving its Denomiazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) cerification. Did you know that Valpolicella ranks just after Chianti in total Italian DOC production. The reason is that the vinicultural zone of the province of Verona, east of Lake Garda, in Veneto, is an agricultural powerhouse.

The hilly, fertile land is home to endless wine production.

Three grape varieties are the core of Valpolicella:

Molinara, Rondinella and Corvina Veronese. Many wine variations are produced from these grapes. All are my favorites, which include Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Amarone and a Recioto dessert wine.

The fertile land in Veneto was the home of the ancient Greeks, who coined the name, Valpolicella, in the 12th century, which loosely translated means, ‘Valley of Cellars.’
With over 60 million bottles produced a year and 75% of the bottles exported, Valpocella remains a sought after wine commodity. The three categories of Valpolicella, sales wise, break down to: 45% Ripasso DOC, 32% Valpolicella ROC and 22% Amarone DOCG.

Authenticity has popped up regarding European wines, mostly due to several issues concerning Spanish, French and Italian wines. To address the issue, the Corsorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella has adopted the Reduce, Respect, Retrench (RRR) certification. The RRR certifies ‘ethical vineyards.’ What that means is that the vineyards receive certification after five years of work practicing sustainable vine growing and wine producing. According to Olga Bussinello, director of the Valpolicella Consorzio, ‘The RRR certification was a necessary change to foster its spread even more and to reward the virtuous viniculturalists who have followed the process in its pilot phase. This is the first certification of an area with an appellation ‘startup’ in Italy, shared and achieved with the support of local towns, partners in the project, which includes 73% of the vineyard surface area in the Valpolicella appellation Certifying an area entails understanding the landscape and that of the ecosystem, from resource management to safeguarding biodiversity, to the protection of a territory where processional viniculture and urbanization are side-by-side-which is just one chapter in the process.’

A territory as outstanding as Valpolicella understands the demands of the western world, where sustainability comes into play.

Why I love Valpolicella: 97% of the grapes used are indigenous varietals. Sustainability is on the radar. There are 2,347 grape growers, 213 wine companies, 7 cooperatives and 275 bottlers.

Plus, it was my fathers favorite wine.

Happy 50th DOC Anniversary Valpolicella.
We Love You…

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My Favorite BBQ Wines by Philip S. Kampe

                                               My Favorite BBQ Wines

Well, on the 4th of July, the truly ‘All American’ holiday, its hard not to celebrate what our country has done in the past and ponder the future. Family celebrations, parades and the smell of the BBQ seduces many of us.

If you are a BBQ fan and want to pass on beer with the main course, I have found a couple of ‘American’ wines that do the trick for the main BBQ meat course pairing.
Both wines are under $20 and are made in the USA.

Donald Hess purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder (California) in 1978. Mr. Hess is not American, but, a Swiss entrepreneur. He bottled his wines in 1983 and in 1986 renovated the winery, its biggest renovation since being constructed in 1903 by Colonel Theadore Gier.

The winery was open to the public, tasting room and all, in 1989. It is now part of the Hess Collection of wines, that includes Su’skol and Allomi in Napa Valley and Shirtaol Creek Vineyard in Monterey.

Donald Hess is known worldwide because of his wine philosophy. ‘Nurture the land, return what you take.’

The two wines that work well with BBQ are the Hess Select Central Coast 2016 Pinot Noir and the Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon.

Both wines deliver the essential acidity, spice and fruitiness that is needed when you eat BBQ.

Hesss Select is distributed nationwide and should be at your wine merchants shop or online.

These two wines are what I usually bring to a BBQ.

I don’t grill, so, feel free to invite me over to share your BBQ and I will bring the wine.

Philip S. Kampe


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