Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore 2017 | Veneto, Italy

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the Week – May 17, 2021

Valpolicella is one of the most prestigious Italian winemaking areas in the Veneto region. It’s located northwest of the elegant Roman town of Verona in northeast Italy close to Lake Garda. This intensely beautiful region, whose name comes from “val polis cellae” meaning “valley of many cellars,” is characterized by the steep, vine-laced ridges that run alongside its rippling mountain streams.

The cultivation area extends along the Monti Lessini mountain range between Verona and the Po Valley. Five of its valleys fan out along the Adige, the Valpantena sub-region east of Verona considered to be equivalent to the core cultivation area Valpolicella Classico. Despite the proximity to the Alps, the climate in the valleys is rather mild, and Lake Garda in the west also has its influence. In addition to vines and cherries, Mediterranean plants such as olives, cypresses, rosemary and figs also thrive here.

The Valpolicella wines surprise with their array of aromas and nuances, punchy flashes of spiciness, from tart to sweet flavors. A wide range of indigenous red grape varieties are planted in the meager soils left by ancient volcanic activity: a mix of volcanic tufa, calcareous clays and, in the east, alluvial material. The variety of terroir has given Valpolicella the possibility to nurture many varietals: the tannic, thick-skinned Corvina, the aromatic Rondinella and the acidic Molinara are the most planted.

Valpolicella DOC and Valpolicella Superiore DOC are the basic wines produced in Valpolicella. These wines are often seen as the Italian counterpart to the Beaujolais wines. It is often a light red wine that needs to be drunk young. The wine combines soft tannins with cherry flavors coming from the Corvina grape varietal, which is regarded as the best one in the Veneto area.

The Zenato winery possesses a strong link to the richness of its local history and culture, and continues to develop this connection today. The estate is based in a territory that surrounds Lake Garda, with an extraordinary microclimate that allows for an optimal growing season. Founder Sergio Zenato strived to eclipse past results and from the beginning crafted wines that are known for their quality and consistency. Over time, the winery has been passed to Sergio’s children, who have maintained and expanded upon his vision.

Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore 2017

Origin: Peschiera, Veneto, Italy
Varietals: 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $16.00
ABV: 13.5%

The wine is ruby red in color, offering fleshy aromas of wild berries, black currants, black cherries and spices and a touch of chocolate. On the palate, dark fruit flavors and soft tannins appear, evolving in a round, long finish.

Suggested food pairings: antipasti, pasta with arrabbiata sauce, roasted chicken, sausages, orange-glazed duck, cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Zenato official website