Our new tour program for the tour to Veneto, with Valpolicella, Amarone and Soave, is now done. It gives you plenty of wine and food experiences in this beautiful wine region in northern Italy. Here is an introduction to the wine tour program to the “five fingers”.
As a hand with five fingers with four valleys in between, a picture that is sometimes used to describe the Valpolicella wine region. The hand stretches north-west from the city of Verona. From the mountains in the north cool breezes come down through the valleys. From Lake Garda, just a few tens of kilometres to the west, warmer winds arrive. The vines grow on the lush mountain slopes, sometimes on terraces, sometimes on flatter ground. All this helps to give the region its own, special micro-climate.
If you are lucky when you fly into the airport of Verona, and the weather is clear, can get a wonderful view of the hillsides and over the countryside of the Veneto.
The winds that sweep through the area are important. It is these winds that make it possible for producers to harvest the grapes, put them in the drying lofts, open the windows, and let the winds sweep through. That is how it becomes amarone. The grapes are dried by autumn winds over few months and in that way a more concentrated wine is produced. Although today sometimes more modern and reliable “artificial” winds, ie fans, are used.
Amarone’s incredible popularity in recent decades has had both positive and negative effects. Of course, the success led to the emergence of “imitations”. Sometimes unreasonably cheap “real” Amarone. “Unreasonably cheap”, I say that because good Amarone is always a rather expensive wine. One cannot produce quality Amarone at a low price. The producer takes big risks and gets small volumes from the dried grapes. Good amarone cannot be inexpensive.
There is also now also a plethora of amarone-imitation wines (“amarone wannabes”?) with clever names to get you to think about amarone – to make you think that this actually is Amarone – but that is not at all Amarone. Wines that are not at all are made the same way or in the same place.
A positive thing with the amarone boom is that more and more wine consumers have discovered the other wines of this wine region, for example “regular” Valpolicella and Valpolicella Superiore. These wines are made from the same grapes as Amarone but without the drying process. These are wines that have more elegance and more fruit than Amarone, wines that are often more suitable to drink with food. Wines that are less in-your-face “impressive” but that you might prefer to drink a whole bottle of over a meal, rather than a single glass.
On our new wine tour to Veneto, the region where Valpolicella is made, we want to show you all these aspects of Valpolicella, both the best of amarone and the best of the “regular” Valpolicella. We take you to some of the region’s most talented producers, some world famous names, but also some smaller producers, family firms where you get to meet the owner / winemaker.
But it will not be only Valpolicella on this trip.
We will also visit Bardolino, the small wine region next to Lake Garda, where they make elegant wines in a style that is quite different from Valpolicella.
We also travel to east from Verona, to Soave, famous for its white wines, and to the neighbouring district Gambellara, with a little bit lesser known but equally good white wines and equally beautiful landscape. I recall the Soaves from the 80s as light and neutral white wines. Those days are long gone. The 80’s is a long time ago.
Today they make many exciting wines in Soave and in Gambellara. From elegant seafood-friendly wines to more powerful wines that can be found at some producers’ that are experimenting with skin contact maceration. In addition, Soave is a very charming little town with an impressive medieval castle.
Base camp for the trip is, of course, Verona, this elegant, not to say sophisticated city known for Romeo and Juliet and for its Arena. The balcony where Juliet stood and pined exists in reality, in a small courtyard in the old city centre. The Arena is also very much present in the city. Verona’s main square, Piazza Bra stretches around the entire arena and is filled with outdoor cafes. But Verona is also a very modern and flourishing city. Here there are plenty of fashion shops for those who are keen on shopping.
My advice for exploring Verona is to start with a walk between the two squares, the Piazza Bra and Piazza delle Erbe. If you like the hubbub and crowds then these are perfect places to sit down for an aperitif in a cafe. After that I suggest to take a walk a little bit further from the centre that takes you a little bit away from the busiest tourist district. Along the river, and perhaps even across the river.
There are also plenty of restaurants in Verona. You can find many recommendations in various guidebooks. They are often good but my favourite is rarely to be found in a guide book. It is on a small back street and is run by an enthusiastic man with a staff that makes you feel welcomed as if at home. With genuine Venetian food and good wines. I will give you the address when we meet on the wine tour in Veneto!
Read more about the details of the wine tour program to Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone, and Soave.
Wine tours such as no one else can create.