Amarone, Soave and More: Veneto Spreads Its Wine Wings

A strong string of recent vintages from Veneto means there are plenty of reds, whites and sparklers to enjoy. Amarone aficionados will find plenty to choose from, but Soave and Prosecco lovers can rejoice, too. The post Amarone, Soave and More: Veneto Spreads Its Wine Wings appeared first on JamesSuckling.com.

Amarone, Soave and More: Veneto Spreads Its Wine Wings
Three of the top 10 Veneto bottles rated in this report: Romano Dal Forno Amarone Della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta 2015, Inama Soave Classico Foscarino I Palchi Grande Cuvée 2019 and Maculan Veneto Passito Acininobili 2015. (Background image from inama.wine)

It’s a good time to be drinking Veneto wines. A strong string of vintages, from 2015 to 2020, means there are plenty of reds, whites and sparklers to enjoy from the northern Italian wine region. In fact, of the more than 600 wines we tasted this year, 80 percent received an outstanding (90+) rating.

Amarone aficionados will find plenty to choose from the stellar 2015 and 2016 vintages, but there are also fresher examples from 2017 and 2018. These heavy-duty reds are moving in a more accessible, drier and less raisiny direction, with greater emphasis placed on elegance and balance.

In a class of its own is the Romano Dal Forno Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta 2015, which is black as pitch and tarry as always, with superb concentration but also exquisite balance, though only a wine fiend would drink it now! More tempting for immediate drinking is the classy Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella Maternigo Riserva 2016, a dense, firm package of dried fruit and spice. That said, a couple more years are still needed to land it in the sweet spot. For a young, ready-to-drink style, you might pick the Flavs Amarone della Valpolicella 2018, which the JamesSuckling.com Tasting Team described as “a vibrant, young amarone that’s just like taking your pick from a box of assorted fruit-cream chocolates.”

But the Veneto region is not just about amarone. Of the 21 wines that received 95+ scores, only half were amarone reds. The same favorable growing seasons have also produced excellent whites, notably in the Soave Classico area. The Inama Soave Classico Foscarino I Palchi Grande Cuvée 2019, an old-vine selection from Stefano Inama’s historic Monte Foscarino vineyard, seems to pull all the flinty, tufo and wet-stone minerals directly out of the ground and into your glass.

Likewise, the Suavia Soave Classico Monte Carbonare 2019, an old-vine garganega that has received a classic rating every vintage since 2015, reached new heights of quality in 2019, offering seemingly endless intensity of fruit and minerals. Historic ambassadors of the Soave Classico appellation, such as Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca 2019 and Gini Soave Classico Contrada Salvarenza Vecchie Vigne 2018 bear further testimony to the excellence of recent vintages.

We tasted over 100 Proseccos for this report and a number of them marked 2020 as an excellent vintage for this light, highly popular sparkling wine. The Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze Dry 2020 is a stunning example, with classy fresh-fruit character and superb balance and length, so much so that “You forget it’s Prosecco!” Another 2020 that shone was the Andreola Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Vigne dei Piai Rive di Rolle Millesimato Dry 2020, which offers minty-fresh apple and citrus aromas and a flood of fresh cream on the palate.

Veneto continues to offer a steady stream of Valpolicella reds that range from light and fruity, steel-only examples for immediate drinking, to heavier reds that more resemble the amarone style. At this end of the scale are the Valpolicella Superiore and Valpolicella Ripasso labels and, tasting blind, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish one style from the other.

But that may not matter when the quality level is high, as is the case with the Tedeschi Valpolicella Classico Superiore La Fabriseria 2017, with enticing blackcurrant and sultana fruit and a perfect tannin framework, or the Zenato Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore Ripassa 2017, a sturdy, focused red with an intense core of red fruit. An excellent example of the drier, more restrained yet no less complex expression of Valpolicella is the Bertani Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ognisanti di Novare Bertani Cru 2019, which adds a freshly squeezed orange edge to the red-berry fruit.

The huge variety of wine produced in Veneto means that there’s something for any occasion, whether you’re popping a bottle of crisp Prosecco for pre-dinner drinks or a summer party, impressing your guests with a world-class white from ancient, pre-phylloxera vines, or pairing your culinary skills with a unique amarone red. Add to that the fact that recent vintages have produced some exceptional wines. All the more reason for you to stick a big pin in the Veneto region on your wine map.

– Jo Cooke, Tasting Editor

The list of wines below is comprised of bottles tasted and rated for this report by the tasters at JamesSuckling.com. They include many of the latest releases not yet available on the market, but which will be available soon. 

Note: You can sort the wines below by vintage, score and alphabetically by winery name. You can also search for specific wines in the search bar. 

 

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