Top-rated reds from Italy's Valpolicella region that are perfect for winter
(This article is sponsored by Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella.)
As much as we’re sad to say goodbye to the sunshine and the light nights, there’s a part of us that embraces the onset of winter. It signals the time to dig out the chunky knits and pack away our swimsuits. The salad bowls are relegated to the back of the kitchen cupboard and the cast iron pot takes permanent residence upon the stovetop.
It’s the weather’s approval to feed your soul with hearty, rich, delicious food. There is truly something of a ritual about winter cooking. We have dreamy notions of Sundays spent with a pot bubbling on the stove and an old Christmas movie playing in the background.
But before we get too romantic, there are definitely times when we need something more to help us get through the long winter nights and the challenges that come with four months of hibernation in our little Vancouver nests. We’re looking for a wine. And, more specifically, a wine of the variety that reflects how we feel after the indulgent winter months—red, full bodied, and not too sweet.
So with that in mind, let us take you to Valpolicella, a beautiful, hilly land in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. It is here where one of Italy’s most important wines is produced. In fact, Amarone is the top red PDO wine in the Veneto region.
Active for over 80 years, the Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella today represents 286 companies that bottle or make DOP Veronese wines. Along with the wine’s promotion, Consorzio guarantees the safeguard of the appellation.
Beyond the wonderful quality of the wine, we give it extra points—or sips— for its “RRR” certification. The “Reduce, Respect, Retrench” program certifies vineyards based on the sustainability of the production processes as well as the protection of the landscape. A sharp reduction in the use of herbicides and pesticides combines with annual metabolomics analysis of the grapes and wine, as well as microbiological soil analysis to verify the results. Ultimately, the consortium’s mission is to try to produce wines that are better for you and are socially sustainable. And we say “cheers!” to that.
So without further ado, here are a few of our favourites and what we’ll be paring them with this winter.
Novaia Valpolicella Classico DOC
Novaia’s Valpolicella Classico DOC is a lighter wine of a medium ruby red colour. It has a fragrant nose of delicate florals together with a slightly fruit perfume with hints of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper. Bring out this wine when you’re serving light dishes and feeling fancy.
Zonin Valpolicella Ripasso DOC
This wine is deep ruby red in colour with a bouquet that is quiet ample and complex. The flavour is dry on the palate with great strength and a sturdy body—yeah, same here. You’ll notice well-defined scents of cherries against a tenuous background of chocolate. Zonin presents another perfect opportunity to indulge in some red meat or whip out the cheese board to impress your friends.
Bottega Valpolicella Ripasso DOC
The intense ruby red appearance of this wine indicates its rich bouquet. Look out for pleasant notes of plum, red berries, ripe cherry and sweet spices, with hints of vanilla and raisins. The taste is dry, full, and smooth with an excellent structure. It goes particularly well with tasty, saucy dishes like pasta with ragù or meat ravioli. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to your Sunday roast beef. And, of course, aged cheeses.
Santi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG SANTICO
This dark red wine has a fragrant nose with top notes of cherry jam and cranberries, followed by hints of plum, dried fruit, and cocoa. On the palate it is full, round, and pleasantly tangy with a long finish and notes of red berries. This wine goes well with dishes that fall into what the Italians categorize as flavoursome starters—risotto, stuffed pasta or game. We can only imagine the main course. La dolce vita indeed.
Sartori Di Verona Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
Sartori Di Verona’s Amarone has an intense red colour with garnet flecks. Typical of the region, this wine has a full velvety body with a rich aroma of red fruit jam and a spicy finish. Like the wine itself, it pairs best with dishes that pack a punch, like strongly flavoured meat and aged cheeses.
Valentina Cubi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG Morar
Don’t let the dry, balanced flavour of this wine lead you into believing it’s bland. Valentina Cubi’s Amarone Morar has an intense aroma with notes of dry fruit, and a finish of toasted oak, raisins and cherry compote. This wine is perfect with red meats and cheeses—are you seeing a pattern here? But, if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, why not pairing a bottle of Valentina Cubi with the traditional Veneto dishes of the wine’s origins? Suggested pairings are game and bollito misto (Italian stew).