2015 Coffele Valpolicella
Region: Soave < Veneto < Italy
Grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: biodynamic farming, volcanic/limestone soils, hand harvested, some grapes left to dry before pressing/fermentation, aged in stainless steel
Winemaker: Alberto and Chiara Coffele
Mass production in the 1980’s gave Valpolicella a bad name, but this version from Alberto and Chiara Coffele proves that when done right, Valpolicella still has game. The Coffele’s farm biodynamically and the grapes for this wine are from just one small, 1.25 hectare plot, so already the amount of work that goes into this bottle is leagues beyond most Valpolicella on the market. I visited the estate a few years back and walked the vineyards, worked only by a single horse and plow. Some of the grapes are dried before fermentation, which adds that extra little bit of weight and texture, and nicely fills out the wine. This style of wine, called ‘appassimento’, is traditional in the cool-climate Veneto region, and the process is low-tech: grapes are dried in a dedicated room that is ventilated and temperature-regulated only through the opening and closing of windows. A lean and refreshing wine, but the aroma is huge, recalling all sorts of things, like mocha and baking spice and dried cherries. On the palate you get some cranberry, cherry, earth and just enough tannin to pull it all together. Practically begs for end-of-summer pasta with bell pepper, eggplant and tomato sauce, or spicy Cioppino.