To qualify for having the name Valpolicella on the bottle, it’s not enough simply to grow the grapes and make the wine in the region. You have to use the right kind of grapes in the right quantities, made in the right way in a certain method the rules of which are actually prescribed by law.
Thankfully, there is a way quality wine can be made in the region (and in the greater Verona area) without following all the prescriptions and still receive official recognition. Following on from the success of wines like Sassicaia and the rise of the ‘super Tuscan’, Veneto winemakers in the 1980s started to experiment with making Bordeaux blends, using especially cabernet sauvignon and merlot to create wines of a more international style. It’s not only Bordeaux blends that are used, however – lesser-known local varieties such as teroldego, the Italo-versal sangiovese, or even a varietal wine of corvina would come under the heading of ‘Rosso Veronese IGT’.
As such, there is enormous variety: from honest thirst-slakers to cult wines, from light and zippy to richer than Croesus, and everything in between. It’s a category which isn’t a category, a label which says ‘don’t put a label on me’. Expect the unexpected – and check the label