Even though I moved away from there ten years ago, a trip to Verona, Italy is something I always cherish. Last weekend I stopped by to visit some old friends. They were nice enough to introduce me to a terrific new winery: David Sterza from the small village of Fumane.
I had the good luck to live in Verona more than six years. Since Shakespeare set the greatest love story of all time there (“Romeo and Juliet” in case you were not certain), I was bound to fall in love, right?
Well, I did – with The Wines of Verona
Soave. Made with the Garganega grape harvested from hillside vineyards to the east and slightly north of Verona, Soave is a crisp white wine with delicate aromas of apples and citrus fruits. Look for 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.
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 (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!