A New Discovery From Verona!

Pieropan or Inama labels at your local wine shop.

Bardolino. These grapes grow on the shores of Lake Garda, about 30 miles west of Verona. It is a light, clean red with simple structure and a refreshing taste.

Valpolicella. The classic blended red from Verona, made (generally) from three grapes that grow only in this part of Italy. Rich ruby color and a strong cherry flavor. Best labels to look for: Carlo Boscaini or Speri

Valpolicella Ripasso. A fuller bodied Valpolicella made with a re-fermentation of the skins from grapes used for Amarone. A deeper and more intense structure than the simpler Valpolicella, a Ripasso might have tones of chocolate with the cherry and currant base. Look for the Musella label.

Giuseppe Lonardi produces fine Valpolicella wines like this one, but you MUST try his AMARONE.

Giuseppe Lonardi produces fine Valpolicella wines like this one, but you MUST try his AMARONE.

Amarone. Verona’s noble wine. Grapes are hand-selected and naturally dried for about four months before fermentation. This process concentrates the sugars giving the wine a fuller structure, deeper color, and richer aroma and flavor. Cherry, blackberry, chocolate, and spices are part of the sophisticated tastes delivered in an Amarone. Best labels include Giuseppe Lonardi (I have talked about him before: click here to see what I said)  and Tenuta Sant’ Antonio.

That is the short version of Verona’s great wines, and a simple plug to some wine makers I have known for nearly 20 years. But it is always fun to find something new. That is what happened when I met David Sterza.

My friends served a bottle of his Valpolicella Ripasso with dinner. I had never seen the label before, but was very impressed by the wine. So, being a star-crossed wine lover, the next morning, I went straight to his winery.

David Sterza produces about 30,000 bottles of wine each years. If you find one in your wine shop, buy it.

David Sterza produces about 30,000 bottles of wine each years. If you find one in your wine shop, buy it.

David (Davide, actually) is a friendly, generous guy I am guessing in his late 30’s. He said his parents had produced grapes, selling them to big local wineries when he was younger. In 1998, Davide started using his grapes to make his own wine. At first sold only in bulk, but by 2003, producing a few thousand bottles. (I moved from Verona in 2003, maybe that’s why I never saw the label before) Today, he has a full line up of typical Verona wines (minus the Bardolino and Soave) and produces around 30,000 bottles a year. I knew his Ripasso was good, but his simpler Valpolicella was quite tasty, and his Amarone was excellent.

His wines are imported to North America, so look for his label in your local wine shop. You’ll be happy you did!

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3 thoughts on “A New Discovery From Verona!

  1. Hi James, lucky you to have lived in Verona! Some fantastic wines from around the area – and, did you get to go to Vinitaly every year when you were there? Chrissie

  2. Ah! Illuminating post – James. I did not know where Bardolino came from (although we can buy that here in Asia), and was not too sure about the origin of Valpolicella also – so, thanks for the lesson. A friend gave me a bottle of Amarone once – delicious. I remember visiting Verona decades ago, along with Bologna. Collonaded walkways, rich history, and unique bars and ‘ristorantes’ all over. Nice place to have lived – fortunate you! Appreciate the insight into the origin of these wines.

  3. Tom, most Italians (who know a thing or two about good food) will tell you Bologna is where you’ll eat the best. I hope you did.

    Chrissie, I lived in Verona for six years, still only about two hours away. So, yes, I am a frequent visitor to VinItaly. I usually get press credentials, so enter for free! It has become very large, though. Producers have to spend a huge amount of money to rent a space, meaning they are more interested in scoring an import contract than they are talking to a wine writer. But I still get samples, and make contacts for later visits to wineries.

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