Size & Type
This is exceptional! Balanced, fresh and dry. The development and layering are very good. Epic complexity, a translucence yet depth of flavour. Earthy, savoury, intriguing. In a world where Valpol’s are often sweet up front almost primary in fruit character this has built-in personality and excellent mouthfeel with fine long tannins combined with acid tension and freshness. Divine flow and shape. Woody herbs around the edges.
I’d have to say this is one of the most enjoyable Valpolicella Superiores I’ve consumed.
There are 3 red wine types in the region: Valpolicella DOC including the higher quality Valpolicella Superiore, Valpolicella Ripasso DOC, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, and a 4th sweet wine type, Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG.
There is movement at the station, Valpolicella is confusing, Amarone too. How the hell do I explain the history of these wines and they styles!
Well, let’s take it back to basics! One simple question …
Is what’s in the glass a bloody good drink that I’d happily hoover a half bottle with along side a tasty meal?
The answer is … Yes!
The best Valpolicella’s wines are less sweet, looking for dry, savoury, mineral expressions, reigning in the alcohol levels.
Roccolo Grassi’s Valpolicella is a stunning example of this.
Equally the number of wines now being made outside the boundaries of the DOCG limitations and being classified as IGT wines is a clear indication of the intent of the region to continue evolving.
The IGT classification is often being used with local varieties moving outside permissible percentages per variety rather than the incorporation of imported varieties.
In addition, with a quality focus in mind, we are seeing single vineyard wines appear.
As is the Italian way, consensus on how to best use the IGT classification will probably take 50-1,000 years, and, some will abuse it.
To this I say: Know your maker & play what’s in the glass!
Eric Guido has a fantastic piece ‘On the Cusp of Evolution: Amarone and Valpolicella’ on Vinous exploring all of this and more.
Established in 1996 by their father Bruno, and named after their prized vineyard called Roccolo Grassi, brother and sister team Marco and Francesca head up this gem of Veronese, and Italian wine.
The big news at Roccolo Grassi is the release of a new Cru Valpolicella Superiore from Marco Sartori’s Valfresca vineyard. The timing couldn’t be better, as the importance of the Valpolicella Superiore category continues to increase throughout the region. What’s more, while the Roccolo Grassi Amarone is typically one of the top wines of each vintage, what this house truly excels at is their Valpolicella. The best part is that the terroir of the vineyard, at a higher elevation and with calcareous soils, versus the volcanic soils of the Roccolo Grassi vineyard, sets the Valfresca drastically apart. Marco Sartori admits that the Valfresca is a work in progress; yet still, the 2015 makes for a very exciting introduction for this new wine and showcases the house style which depends less on appassimento to create wines of amazing elegance and purity of fruit. Having said all of that, the new releases from this address are not to be missed.
The film below is in Italian, well worth a watch even if you have a tiny bit of Italian.
Our efforts are concentrated in our 15 hectares of vineyards, in “Val di Mezzane”, at an altitude between 200 and 300 m., we try to support nature by respecting its times, the vines and their ability to express themselves. We prune the vines with attention to every single plant, we try to contain grape yields and reach perfect ripeness; this by practicing viticulture that is attentive to the environment and the territory. The company, in addition to the vineyard, includes 2 hectares of woods, 1.5 of olive groves and various fruit trees, this creates a unique ecosystem to produce healthy and high quality grapes.
We place the utmost care in preserving our harvest through winemaking practices which respect and preserve the grapes. Cleanness and meticulous care is guaranteed at each stage of the work process, as well is the choice of woods, and wine testing. In fact, it is the wine itself to determine the next step to be taken. The cellar is a passageway where grapes become wine in an amazing journey where their life encounters ours.
This is the flagship wine of Roccolo Grassi, made mostly from Corvina (65%) with 15% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and 10% mixed of Croatina and Oseleta. The vineyard is 12 hectares, divided into eight for Valpolicella and four for Amarone, planted on volcanic/basalt soils. Marco uses a combination of fresh and slightly dried grapes for his Valpolicella. About 40% off the grapes are dried. The slight dehydration of the grapes lasts 20 days (percentage amount of grapes and number of days may vary depending on the vintage) in order to alter the peel/pulp ratio and therefore obtain a fresh fruit with a slightly higher concentration and rich with the noble components of the peel. The two parts are aged in barriques and botti for 20 months before being assembled and aged a further 18 in the bottle. Rich with red fruits, spice, coffee and chocolate, the palate is silky with beautiful texture and balance and it has the complexity and structure to age for 10-15 years.
A section of the vineyard is designated exclusively to growing grapes for Valpollicella Superiore. Grapes for Amarone are not selected from this area.
AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA
From a four hectare parcel of the oldest vines (55 years) and all grown Pergola Veronese, this is 60% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Croatina. The grapes are dried until the first week of December and then pressed into stainless for thirty days maceration. The wine is aged 60% in barriques (max. 20% new) and 40% in botti for 24 months followed by another 24 in the bottle. This is rich and concentrated but guided by the house style that favours complexity and balance over power.
Roccolo Grassi Amarone is a wine of great structure and softness. Its aim is to feature great balance, finesse and complexity. Here tannins are very sweet but appreciable with good length and depth.
A wicked vintage to be the first of Roccolo Grassi’s to reach Australian shores.
From Eric Guido, Vinous:
The 2016s come across as some of the most classic wines to emerge from the Veneto in some time. They are sleek and cool-toned, packed full of depth and character, but also structured. This was a cool yet also moderately rainy vintage that saw low temperatures that lasted throughout the spring. However, the summer months brought weather that fell within historical averages and without any severe fluctuations. Warmer temperatures set in through the fall, which was also well-ventilated, creating ideal harvest conditions. The 2016s are balanced, elegant, fresh and with the structure for many years of cellaring, and with time, they will be recognized as modern-day classics.
Roccolo Grasi is located in Veneto in Valpolicella.
An enticing mix of incense, black tea, cracked pepper and red wild berries emanate from the 2016 Valpolicella Superiore. This is undeniably elegant, with its silky textures that seem to coat the entire palate in a seductive layer of violet-tinged fruits and suave lavender and chocolate notes. That said, this is not sweet nor overly rich; in fact, the 2016 is truly harmonious and poised, boasting tremendous concentration that's lifted by saline-infused acids. It leaves the palate completely saturated with cloves and allspice, as it tapers off structured and long. This is next-level Valpolicella Superiore, and it may even one day warrant a higher score. Marco Sartori uses 30% appassimento grapes in his Valpolicella, which are dried for twenty days. The wine is refined in a 50% - 50% mix of large oak cask and barrique, of which only about 20% are new.
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Azienda Agricola Roccolo Grassi, Via San Giovanni di Dio, Mezzane di Sotto, VR, Italy