Convincing wine lovers that Valpolicella is more than a cheap quaffer is the biggest challenge facing Veneto’s producers today, says Riccardo Tedeschi, winemaker of the historic Tedeschi estate.
And, ironically, the popularity of Amarone is to blame, he adds.
Until the 1990s, Valpolicella was the perfect mid-week, easy-drinking, fresh dry red that was the ideal partner with food, and Amarone was the sweet, rich, slightly oxidised dried-grape wine that was usually only a consideration with cheese or dessert – and predominantly only in Italy.
But with the rise of blockbuster-style reds popular with US critics, producers sensed an export opportunity and made their Amarones drier and oakier, but still just as rich and lush. Consequently, even co-ops and modest estates that once focused on simple Valpolicella concentrated all their efforts – and grapes – to produce Amarone.
The issue, says Tedeschi, is that the quality of both has suffered over the past 25 years, and consumers are not only understandably disbelieving that all Amarone is worth the price tag, but have also forgotten how good Valpolicella used to be.
So he and his sisters Antonietta and Sabrina are now trying to raise the profile of the dry, fresh style of Valpolicella, through their Classico, Superiore and Ripasso Superiore bottings, as well as La Fabriseria – a single-vineyard Valpolicella Classico Superiore.
Their father Lorenzo Tedeschi was the first in the region to declare a single-vineyard on wine labels. The family-owned company has a wine history stretching back to the 1630s and had been making Amarone della Valpolicella Classico from the Monte Olmi vineyard since 1918. But in 1964 Lorenzo put the site’s name on the label, starting a trend that is now commonplace among the region’s producers.
Among a range of 14 wines – the reds from the classic Veneto varieties of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Osleta and a few others – the family also makes two Soaves.
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