EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 14, 2011

Wine Pairings: Italian wines


Valpolicella is a viticultural zone of the province of Verona, Italy, east of Lake Garda. The hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region of small vineyards north of the Adige is famous for wine production. The red wine known as Valpolicella is typically made from three grape varietals: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. A variety of wine styles are produced in the area, including a recioto dessert wine and Amarone, a strong wine made from dried grapes. Most basic Valpolicellas are light, fragrant table wines in flavor. Valpolicella Classico is made from grapes grown in the original Valpolicella production zone. Valpolicella Superiore is aged at least one year and has an alcohol content of at least 12 percent. Valpolicella Ripasso is a form of Valpolicella Superiore made with partially dried grape skins that have been left over from fermentation of Amarone or recioto.

Winemaking in the region has existed since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. The name "Valpolicella" appeared in charters of the mid 12th century, combining two valleys previously thought of independently. Its etymology is unknown; it might derive from a Latin and Greek mixture for "Valley of many cellars."

MASI Campofiorin 2007 has been given the 5-star classification by the Masi Technical Group. To find another vintage equally as good it is necessary to go back to 1997. In fact, the Masi Technical Group's judgements are very severe and reflect an opinion on the wine's organoleptic qualities strictly in line with climatic conditions, not just in the viticultural phase (growth and ripening) but also in the delicate appassimento phase. This is when the wine can be taken to the heights of excellence when the grapes acquire concentration and over-ripeness endows them with particular aromas and tastes.