Saturday, October 1, 2022

Cooperatives in Valpolicella with Cantina di Soave #ItalianFWT

I’ve long been a fan of the wines of the Veneto for such a wide variety of options they provide for consumers.  Some years back I had the luxury of touring the Valpolicella wine appellation on a couple of press trips so got to get a deep dive understanding of what these wines are all about.  Such a beautiful place to tour as well.  I based myself out of Verona both times and there are so many options for day trips with easy convenience to venture to.  I recently bought a bottle, Villa Alberti Valpolicella Superiore, at Trader Joe’s and I’m always intrigued at what some of these wines taste like when they’re at such great price points. Let’s find out!

The Winery ~ Cantina di Soave

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any specific information about Villa Alberti itself, but it is a brand under the known Cantina di Soave winery, which is a cooperative of growers that have been in existence since 1898 when a group of local growers decided to band together to produce wines.  Later in 1930 Cantina di Soave became officially established.  The headquarters is located in Soave, a town east of Verona in the Veneto region in northeastern Italy.  The vineyards of Cantina di Soave span over a number of established wine appellations in the Veneto to include Soave, Garda, Custoza, Bardolino, Lessini Durello sparkling wines and Valpolicella.

When most folks think of cooperatives they may think of wines that are produced with less attention to quality and/or are mass produced.  Although that may be true for some, there are a number of cooperatives throughout Italy that although are large, are producing wines worthy of attention with a focus on quality.  What was interested to learn of Cantina di Soave is their software system that they began utilizing in 1997.  This system provides them real-time data into the soils, climate and vineyard health along with a number of other factors of their growers vineyards and grapes.  Also, when the grapes are harvested they are analyzed on 17 different parameters to ensure high quality.  They also have a sustainable focus on their environment, packaging and energy consumption, which tends to be a hot topic for many producers around the world today.

Valpolicella DOC copyright of Consorzio Tutela di Valpolicella

The appellation ~ Valpolicella

Valpolicella is a wine appellation in the Veneto region, which stands for the “valley of many cellars” due to the geography of the land that is stretched across a number of valleys.  It is located at the foot of the Alps and the valleys reside amongst the Lessini Mountains. 

Valpolicella terroir
The Valpolicella wine region of the Veneto produce a variety of styles all from a combination of various percentages of the same grapes.  The most prominent grape typically used is Corvina along with Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara.  The styles of Valpolicella wines include all reds starting with the basic Valpolicella wine, Valpolicella Superiore, Valpolicella Ripasso, Recioto della Valpolicella and Amarone della Valpolicella.   

The standard Valpolicella DOC wines are your entry into this regions wines and grapes that are young, fresh and enjoyable for your every day.  The Valpolicella DOC was established in 1968 and Cantina di Soave actually manages 49% of the vineyards in this zone across the Cazzano, Illasi and Mezzane valleys.  Valpolicella Superiore wines are select grapes from better parcels that are aged 1+ years with a minimum of 12% abv.  The Valpolicella Ripasso stands for “repassed over” as these wines are fermented with the pomace of grape skins of either the Recioto or Amarone.  The Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG has grapes that are dried out until about January and fermentation is stopped before all the sugars convert over to alcohol. At the top of the chain are some of Italy’s best wines, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, where the grapes are also dried out in a similar style to the Recioto, but the grapes are full fermented resulting in a big wines with amazing raisin-like aromas and complexities.

The Wine

The 2018 Villa Alberti Valpolicella Superiore DOC was ruby red in color with cherry notes. A medium-bodied, approachable, easy drinking Valpolicella, smooth on the palate with juicy acidity, cherry flavors combined with subtle tannins.  For a price point of $6.99 you can’t go wrong.  ABV 12.5%

2018 Villa Alberti Valpolicella Superiore DOC

Have you tried the wines of the Valpolicella and what is your favorite style?

We're a small, but mighty group this week.  Join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers for a live chat on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST as we chat all about the wines of Valpolicella.