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Home | Red Grape MP | Corvina - A price tag for everyone


Corvina - A price tag for everyone

June 12, 2013

Ever wonder why Italian red blends made from the same grape varieties can have such a wide range in price?  Visit your local wine shop and compare the prices of Bardolino, Valpolicella and Amarone.  All of these wines are blends made varying quantities of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, and Rossignola (and small amounts of about a dozen other grape varieties) yet the prices will vary from less than $15 to over $100.  Why the difference?  Well it's all about the handling of the grapes and the associated labor costs.  Two different labor intensive vinification processes are commonly used with Corvina grapes in the making of these famous Italian blends.

Appassimento

Appassimento (Italian for grape drying)

Image courtesy of Masi Vineyards
Image courtesy of Masi Vineyards
is the process of partially drying grapes before beginning fermentation.  Grape bunches are hand selected and placed in cane racks (called arele).  The grapes are placed in a single layer and allowed to dry for three to four months (see photo).  The appassimento process causes the grapes to lose as much as 60% of their liquid volume, resulting in a concentration of sugar and aromas.  Although the resultant wine is more complex and aroma laden, it is this very significant reduction in volume that drives the price of appassimento processed wines, most notably Amarone, so high.

Ripasso

Ripasso is a term used to describe an age's old technique of reusing dried grapes, used to produce Amarone, in the production of Valpolicella.  The term which means "re-passed", describes the use of the skins remaining after being squeezed and used in Amarone.  These skins, rich in sugar and aromas, are mixed with basic Valpolicella, starting a second fermentation or second “pass”.  This second fermentation yields a wine with additional body and complexity – Valpolicella Ripasso – occasionally referred to as “the poor man's Amarone” or “baby Amarone”.

Where is Corvina Grown?

Corvina is the signature grape variety of the Veneto region of Northeast Italy.  In fact this indigenous grape variety has never successfully travelled the world.  The grape is widely planted in many of the Veneto's fourteen DOCGs, the most famous being Amarone della Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella, and Bardolino Superiore.  Corvina is found in the foothills region of the western Veneto, favoring the cooler elevations and lessened influence of the Adriatic Sea.

Corvina Styles

Corvina is used almost exclusively as a component of the red blends Bardolino, Valpolicella, and Amarone.  Its most frequent blending partners are Rondinella, Molinara, and Rossignola.  Corvina is the largest percentage, with Molinara and Rondinella making up at least 30% combined.

The style depends on how the grapes are handled, whether or not they are dried (Appassimento), and whether they undergo a second fermentation (Ripasso).  Corvina is naturally high in acidity, lacks color depth and tannins.  The grape berries are small; however they do have very thick skins, making them the ideal candidate for drying.

Here is an interesting piece of trivia about the Corvina grape, if you want to impress your wine loving friends.  During the grape's early growing phase, the first few buds do not produce fruit.  Consequently the vines must be grown on a trellising system or pergola which allows for a long cane that can produce more buds, and the resulting fruit!

Wine Profile

 

Smell

 

 

Taste

 

Feel

 

Price

 

Valpolicella

Sour cherries
Strawberry
Nuts
Violet
Almond

Amarone

Raisin
Dried Fruit
Plum
Leather

 

Dry

 

Alcohol content

Valpolicella 12% - 13%

Amarone 14% - 15%+

Acidity level: Medium to high

Tannins: Medium to low

 

Wide range but basic Valpolicella wines are available for under $15.

 

The best Amarone wines can easily top $50.

 





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