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Details for Adalia, Valpolicella

AppellationValpolicella DOC
Adalia Azienda Agricola
(click to find out more)


The north-eastern Italian region of Veneto is one of the most important wine producing regions in Italy.  Although not the largest in area, it produces more wine than any other.  It’s the home of Prosecco, Soave and Valpolicella, three very familiar Italian wine names.
Prosecco is a DOCG sparkling wine made from the grape Glera.  It has enjoyed immense popularity lately as an affordable, everyday alternative to Champagne.  Prosecco is generally dry and can be fully fizzy (spumante) or lightly fizzy (frizzante).  Most of it is made by the tank method, where the second fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and the wine is then bottled under pressure.  Consequently it lacks the toasty autolytic flavours of bottle-fermented wines like Champagne and is known for its upfront primary fruit flavours of apple and pear.  The best region for Prosecco production is Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, just north of Venice.
The white wine Soave comes from a region to the east of Verona.  Much of it is fairly neutral, but the best examples from hillside sites can be excellent food-friendly whites akin to fine unoaked Chardonnay but with a distinctive almond flavour.  Gargenaga is the main grape of Soave, supported by Trebbiano di Soave (a.k.a. Verdicchio).
North and west of Soave is Valpolicella, the only well-known red from this largely white-wine region.  Corvina is the main (and best) grape, but all Valpolicella is a blend, usually including Rondinella and Molinara.  Everyday Valpolicella is a light, fresh, fruity red with a distinctive sour cherry flavour.  More serious versions are made in the higher-altitude vineyards of the Classico zone to the west of the region.  The highest-prized versions of Valpolicella are the sweet Recioto and the dry Amarone, made from grapes that have been part-dried before fermentation to produce much more concentrated, tannic and ageworthy wines.
Apart from these famous DOCs, the region produces huge amounts of everyday wine under the IGT Veneto designation, especially Pinot Grigio and Merlot.

Adalia Azienda Agricola

Adalia is the second label of revered Veronese winemaker Marinella Camerani.  Her first label is the famous Corte Sant’Alda, which she started in 1986 following a drastic change in lifestyle.
The previous year she had left her job as accountant in her family’s battery factory and moved to her family's country house, 13 kilometres northeast of Verona, to become a farmer and live off the land.  The five hectare estate had a small, neglected vineyard but hadn’t produced wine seriously before, so she taught herself winemaking from books and by experimentation.  This included a couple of trips to Piedmont and Bordeaux to see how they did things there.
Her vineyards were organically farmed from the start, and are now biodynamic too.  Persistent work in the vineyard and the winery gradually built a following for her Valpolicella and, especially, Amarone.  Her star rose, and in 2008 the Italian food and wine bible Gambero Rosso named her Winemaker of the Year.
That same year she bought a nearby 5 hectare vineyard to produce wine with her daughter Alda Faccio under the Adalia label.  The vineyard lies in the Val de Mazzano where the DOCs of Valpolicella and Soave overlap, allowing them to produce both red Valpolicella and white Soave from their own land.  The Adalia vineyard is organically farmed too, and the estate’s name pays tribute to the ladybird Adalia Bipunctata, whose voracious appetite for aphids and other vine pests is so important if chemical pesticides are to be avoided.

about this wine About this wine

Yes, here’s another wine that was big in the Seventies but is now so unhip that it’s a wonder its legs don’t fall off the sides of the glass. We’ve rediscovered Muscadet, Dão, Frascati and Vinho Verde; now it’s the turn of Valpolicella. This fresh and juicy cherry-flavoured red found its way onto every Italian restaurant winelist, and for good reason. It was immediately appealing, drank well young, went perfectly with the bold flavours of Italian cooking and didn’t cost much.
And therein lay the seeds of its downfall. It was a well-known name (the best-known Italian red, along with Chianti) and there was a ready export market but one that didn’t expect to pay very much. Whoever could produce the most wine most cheaply stood to make the most money. The authorities connived at this by expanding the DOC boundaries far outside the traditional Veronese hills to include lots of inferior but highly fertile and easily mechanised flat land on the plains. Valpolicella became an industrial product, entering a downward spiral of price and quality until the original hillside vineyards were largely abandoned as uneconomic.
Much the same story happened in Chianti, but Tuscany was blessed with a few prestigious aristocratic estates which retained reputations for quality and which led the revival of the region in the Eighties. Valpolicella was a region of farmers, who sold their grapes to co-operatives, who sold their wine to merchants. The system rewarded quantity over quality. In the end it was not Valpolicella itself that experienced a revival, but its bigger, beefier relatives Amarone and Ripasso – both surprisingly recent inventions.
For centuries local producers had made sweet Recioto wines in addition to the light, dry Valpolicella. To make Recioto, the grapes were picked and then allowed to dessicate for months in special drying rooms, concentrating their sugars. The resulting must was so sweet that it could not be fermented to dryness: the natural yeasts were killed off by the rising alcohol levels and the autumnal cold before all the sugar had been used up.
Occasionally, in warm vintages, a batch of Recioto would ferment all the way, becoming a powerfully alcoholic, tannic and concentrated dry wine dubbed Amarone, meaning “great bitter”. It was regarded as a mistake, or at best a curiosity. Only in the Fifties did producers begin to deliberately produce Amarone wines, using cultured yeasts specially selected to withstand high alcohol levels.
Ripasso is even more recent, invented in the Eighties by refermenting regular Valpolicella with the skins left over after fermenting Amarone or Recioto, producing a wine with more strength, colour and tannin.
Amarone and Ripasso are prestigious wines, commanding high prices. Their growing popularity allowed the revival of the expensive-to-work hillside vineyards. Individual estates began to flourish in the hills, making their own wine from their own vineyards to be sold under their own name. Much regular Valpolicella continues to be industrial, but from these producers it can be marvellous.
This is one of those, made by pioneer organic winemaker Marinella Camerani at her second estate, Adalia. Her first, nearby Corte Sant’Alda, is one of the most prestigious names in the region. The grapes come from an organically farmed hillside vineyard, facing east across the Val di Mezzane at an altitude of 400m. The blend is 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Molinara. These make up the classic Valpolicella blend but with an unusually high proportion of Corvina, the region’s best grape.
The grapes were destemmed and gently crushed, allowing fermentation to begin using only the wild yeasts from the grape skins. After a week the must was run off the skins to finish fermentation in stainless steel tanks. It was then aged in steel for several months before bottling.

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