This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Valpolicella!

Meet The Nicolis Family 

Nicolis Winery

The history of this family has always been intimately bound to the art of wine growing. Here in San Pietro in Cariano, they are in the heart of the VALPOLICELLA (Valley Of The Many Cellars) Classico zone, and caring for their own land here has always been an important part of the Nicolis family daily life, right from childhood. This tradition  has been passed on by their father Angelo, who transformed his passion for his land into a consummate skill for making wine. Since 1951, they have committed all of their efforts to producing world-class wines, The Nicolis name sums up the history of an entire family. Each member has a mission that revolves around the earth and wine. Giancarlo focuses strict attention on the vineyards, while Giuseppe ensures that the winemaking is perfection and natural. All their grapes are harvested by hand. Welcome to Valpolicella !! 

The Main Grapes and

The Wines of Valpolicella in Verona

The heartbeat and the majority grape used in the area is CORVINA. Floral but then provides big lip smacking fruit. RONDINELLA is next. This adds some complex flavors and Molinara and Croatina provide that classic bitter cherry that you will find in these wines. AMARONE (AM-A-RONEEE) Is the most famous of all wines in the Valpolicella region. It is not a grape and it is not an area. It is a process that is unique. The grapes mentioned above are air dried for 3 months before pressing which raises the sugar levels or BRIX (BRICKS) and that translates during fermentation into a Big Bold Dried Cherry, Raisin, Plummy, Leathery, High Alcohol, (15-17%) wine. In my last visit to Verona, I never saw more Amarones on Restaurant wine lists than there. BABY AMARONE: Every producer who makes an Amarone saves the leftover skins, seeds and stems from the Amarone and Re-Passes the Juice a Second time (A Second Pressing) A RIPASSO (RE-PASSING). The flavors are still rich and the nose aromatic and the alcohol drops usually to 13.5% and so does the price tag about $20-$40. Ripassos are a great value. Last but not least the Valpolicella Classico frowned upon many consumers as being CHEAP NONNA’S JUG WINE with many factory produced wines giving the VALPOLICELLA name a bad association. Some producers still use a little Ripasso method but Nicolis does a real Valpolicella Classico that brings your taste buds back to the region. 

2016 Nicolis Valpolicella Classico, D.O.C.

Nicolis Front Label

Nicolis Back Label

If you expect this type of wine to be a rich, complex silky smooth watch Netflix type of wine…this is not for you. A Valpolicella Classico to me represents a wine that can be had at almost any meal even lunch or white meats, or salamis, cheeses, and nothing in the world that I have tried with pizza can top a well made Valpolicella like this. As you can see on the label the Big 3 Grapes are used. 65% CORVINA, 25% RONDINELLA, and 10% MOLINARA. They ferment to the proper temperature which is craftsmanship in itself or else a Valpolicella Classico can smell and taste like nothing. 12.5% Alcohol so again this isn’t one of those Big Rich Australian Shiraz fruit bombs. This is a wine with every meal at the Italian Table and well made.

My Review

Nicolis Glass

Ruby red with purple hues and star bright in the glass. When the nose opened up due to the proper temperature during fermentation, I picked up strong, floral notes, lots of bright cherry and red plums. On the palate very light bodied to medium at best (Don’t want thick bold heavy wines with a simple lunch or pizza..otherwise go for the Amarone) The palate confirmed the nose with lots of plums and cherries but the CLASSIC Flavor of the real Italian Cherry grown in the area that you taste in a good  Classic Valpolicella . You are shaking your head saying “Real Italian Cherry”?? I knew you would. If you either had a Manhattan Cocktail or a Whiskey Sour and thought that those red sweet nauseatingly sweet red dyed things at every bar and even used for a Shirley Temple was a Maraschino Cherry…Listen Up.

Marasca Cherry

The Marasca… or originally the AMARASCATA (AMARA means BITTER in English) and the name Marasca Formed Maraschino Cherry is BLACK and the real deal. Yes they have a special unique bitter taste like mixing a cherry with maybe a dash of Aperol or Campari. That Tartness or Bitterness is the classic taste finish on every quality Valpolicella I have ever tasted. If it’s not there I am not buying it. A good craft cocktail bar should be using the Marasca Cherries as a Garnish or order a Beer. I think that slightly Bitter taste will be off for some people and for others like me I will be buying bottle after bottle after bottle to enjoy with a simple meal and especially with a Pizza. I had pizza with it and I felt like the Gentleman from Verona. 

The Summary

If you have been shying away from Valpolicellas as it reminds you of the big jugs of wine your family or friends used to buy or still buy and you didn’t or don’t like them, this will bring you back to an authentic Valpolicella. The price is $13,89 per bottle and I literally have 2=5 regular customers who buy multiple bottles of this wine. A heavier meal we move you up to the Nicolis Seccal Ripasso and then one of their 2 Amarones we offer at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits in Florida. Scoring which I hate but I do it anyway … I give an 86 out of 100. You can taste the attention to detail and the quality winemaking that the Nicolis Family has been doing since they were kids. Their father Angelo taught them right. It’s the holidays. People are visiting and we are indulging in cheeses and appetizers and salads and salamis and mortadella and hams etc… You will look like a pro if you serve your guests a bottle of  2016 Nicolis Valpolicella Classico with these types of foods ,like you are from Verona. Tell them you are related to Romeo And Juliet 

Grape-fully yours, Larry

2 thoughts on “This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Valpolicella!

  1. Hi Larry – I used to drink Valpolicella many years ago. Not sure why I moved away from it but my journey to a great red wine continues. I need to time travel back and enjoy some again! Great article – thank you.

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