The Valpolicella Blend, a hallmark of winemaking in Italy’s Veneto region, showcases the harmonious interplay of three indigenous red-wine grape varieties: Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella. This blend forms the foundation for the renowned Valpolicella DOC wines, with each grape contributing its unique character to the final product.
Corvina, the star of the trio, takes center stage, typically accounting for 45 to 95 percent of the blend. Known for its vibrant acidity and notes of sour cherries, Corvina lends a light and elegant character to the wines. Its profile often resembles the Gamay variety found in Beaujolais wines.
Corvinone, previously thought to be a Corvina clone but now recognized as a distinct grape variety, can comprise up to 50 percent of the blend, substituting some of Corvina’s share. Corvinone contributes depth and complexity to the wine, enhancing its overall structure.
Rondinella plays a supporting role by adding color and body to the blend. It introduces herbal notes and amplifies the gentle spiciness of Corvina, making up to 30 percent of the blend.
While these three grapes are the mainstays of the Valpolicella Blend, other varieties are permitted in limited quantities, contributing to the blend’s diversity. Molinara, for instance, contributes additional tannins and fresh acidity, although its use has been diminishing in recent times. Oseleta, an ancient Veronese grape variety experiencing a revival, imparts body, color, and spicy aromas to the blend.
The Valpolicella Blend serves as the foundation for various styles of wines. Dry table wines are the most common, but the blend also finds its way into sweet, semi-sweet, and sparkling wines. Among these, Amarone stands out, utilizing the appassimento method, where grapes are semi-dried to create rich and often sweet wines of remarkable concentration. Corvina and Rondinella’s thick skins and opulent texture make them ideal for this process.
Winemakers can choose to ferment their Amarone wines as sweet (Recioto) or dry, offering versatility in style. Wines labeled as Ripasso take things a step further by using the pressed skins of Amarone grapes in conjunction with traditional winemaking techniques. This process adds color, tannins, and complexity to the blend, making Ripasso wines a bridge between dry Valpolicella and the opulent Amarone wines.
The Valpolicella Blend, shaped by these indigenous grape varieties, reflects the region’s diverse terroirs, producing wines that range from elegant and fresh to rich and concentrated, offering wine enthusiasts a delightful spectrum of flavors and aromas to savor.