Allegrini 2024

Amarone from “older ” vines, screw on cap for Valpolicella, less sugar, focus on Ripasso

Following yield reductions and no new vineyards planted for 3 years, Valpolicella denominations are looking at new major changes
The Tedeschi family’s Monte Olmi vineyard in Valpolicella

The modifications of the four production regulations for “Valpolicella”, “Valpolicella Ripasso”, “Amarone” and “Recioto”, announced just a few weeks ago, will be imposed on the entire chain of one of the most important Italian Denominations, and will reprogram its future. There are four main points in the revised rules, the most important among which concerns the regulation of Valpolicella Ripasso that has registered 128%increase in the last decade, becoming increasingly strategic for the economy of the area. The percentages of Corvinone grapes have been raised for DOC and DOCG wines, the age of the vineyards from which grapes are produced for Amarone and Recioto increased from 3 to 4 years and the use of the screw on cap for Valpolicella introduced.

The story of the changes in the specifications of Valpolicella wines started in 2012. It has taken a long time due to a combination of unfortunate situations that delayed some of the measures, such as the succession of various Ministers at the Ministry of Agriculture, the “vacation” of the Wines Committee that took a very long time to be renewed and, last but not least, the adaptation of the Consolidated Law which made it necessary to rethink some of the proposals.
The two primary guidelines of the Consortium are at the basis of the variations of the regulations introduced in 1968 and modified most recently in 2010, and are the pursuit of a policy aimed at safeguarding the exclusive quality of the wines expressing the specific territory and at the same time guaranteeing profitability for wine companies.
“The change in regulations”, said Andrea Sartori, president of the Valpolicella Wine Consortium , “is to be considered within the perspective of continually improving the quality of Valpolicella wines, which is already very high, but it must be continually raised to stay on the markets, while at the same time protect the profitability of the denomination. All of this really has nothing to do with the economic model of our denominations”, he underlined “but it is the beginning of a regulation that will invest in the future also of other production aspects to arrive at further modifications of the regulations, following the mandatory discussions. The new provisions are the result of the consortium’s activity which has been increasingly focused on quality, and that today is an essential objective value of a brand famous all over the world, on which the Valpolicella companies founded their reputation and their positioning on foreign markets”.
The evolution of the markets, the fluctuation in demand for Valpolicella wines and the rapid increase of the total vineyard area of the first Veneto PDO red wine that has grown almost 30% in the last 10 years and today is close to 8.200 hectares of vineyard surface, have led the wine protection Consortium to adopt long-term goals and planning. In July, the Veneto Region approved reduction of both yields and the selection of grapes for drying as well as blocking vine planting for the next 3 years that the wine protection Consortium proposed to guarantee adequate remuneration of the supply chain and maintain the average price.
The modifications of the rules refer to enhancing quality and adapting to new climate and market scenarios. This means that grapes destined to become Amarone and Recioto must come from vineyards that are at least 4 years old, instead of 3 as previously stated. The amendment to Article 6 of the Amarone regulations lowers residual sugars - from 12 grams per liter to 9 grams per liter - in order to recover the traditional way. And, concerning blends, the Rondinella quota has remained unchanged (from 5% to 30%), the percentage of Corvinone grapes has increased for all Valpolicella wines, which may also be used to totally replace Corvina effecting between 45% and 95% compared to the previous maximum limit that was 50%.
“Compared to Corvina”, explained Daniele Accordini, vice president of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella, “Corvinone is resilient to climate change, therefore to water stress, and to a such adversities as the “esca” disease as well as second to none from is not second from the sensory point of view. The tastings conducted showed that in its best years Corvinone is able to express characteristics that are even superior to Corvina”.
Furthermore, the modification of Article 8 of the specification extends the use of the screw on cap also to Valpolicella listing various indications and / or specifications of closure systems for bottles between 0.375 and 1.5 liters.

The most important changes, however, concern the production methods of Valpolicella Ripasso. Marco Sartori, vice president of the Tutela organization, explained that these “aim both at defining the winemaking practice with which it is obtained, increase its quality and protect the final consumer, making the “re-pass” practice uniform and transparent ”.

Valpolicella Ripasso is obtained - it should be emphasized - by the re-fermentation of the wines suitable to become “Valpolicella” DOC wines, in all the types specified, on the residual grape pomace of the preparation of Recioto and / or Amarone della Valpolicella. The redefinition of article 5 leaves the relation between the production of Amarone and Valpolicella for Ripasso (1: 2) unchanged, but it defines and sets the percentage of Amarone (or Recioto) that must be present, at 10% to 15% pomace on which Valpolicella is “re-passed”. This will lead to a reduction in the production of Amarone (from 10% to 15%), an improvement for Ripasso and consequently better price positioning for both. In addition to the minimum percentages of Amarone (or Recioto) to be used in the method for Ripasso, the new regulation establishes other important rules, which in practice are already widespread, such as 3 day minimum duration of the “re-pass” process on Amarone / Recioto grape pomace, the requirement to do the “re-pass” in a single occurrence, and not on several occasions, and the possibility of doing so only on one's own grape pomace. These rules will tend to reduce the “personal interpretations” of the various producers, reduce the many existent varieties of Ripasso and to elevate its average quality.

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