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Tedeschi Valpolicella Nicalo 1998
Nicolò Tedeschi founded the company that bears his name in the Valpolicella area in 1824. He was a genuine personality of his time, renowned for his skill and moral stature. Throughout the years, his family has continued the traditional wine-making process, and today, the winery is owned by the fifth generation of Tedeschis: Antonietta, Sabrina and Riccardo. Each has various responsibilities, but it is Riccardo, the oenologist, who deals with production and acts as Tedeschi's Export Director.
Tedeschi utilizes two traditional winemaking techniques almost as old as winemaking itself. Amarone della Valpolicella is the only mainstream style where the wines are fermented to dryness, yielding deeply colored and concentrated wines, rich in character, and often rich in alcohol, too. The ripasso method, utilizing the drained but unpressed must of an Amarone, provides some kick to a more basic wine and is also unique to the region.
Each of Tedeschi’s wines must not only be as good as possible, but also as personal as it can be. Each has its own style and a clearly distinguishable character—the genuine “Tedeschi Trademark.” In order to achieve this objective, the family monitors every phase of the wine-making process, from the vineyard to the cellar, without ever trying to substitute nature or its laws in any way.
Among the ranks of Italy’s quintessential red wines, Valpolicella literally translates to the “valley of cellars” and is composed of a series of valleys (named Fumane, Marano and Negrare) that start in the pre-alpine Lissini Mountains and end in the southern plains of the Veneto. Here vineyards adorn the valley hillsides, rising up to just over 1,300 feet.
The classification of its red wines makes this appellation unique. Whereas most Italian regions claim the wines from one or two grapes as superior, or specific vineyards or communes most admirable, Valpolicella ranks the caliber of its red wines based on delimited production methods, and every tier uses the same basic blending grapes.
Corvina holds the most esteem among varieties here and provides the backbone of the best reds of Valpolicella. Also typical in the blends, in lesser quantities, are Rondinella, Molinara, Oseleta, Croatina, Corvinone and a few other minor red varieties.
Valpolicella Classico, the simplest category, is where the region’s top values are found and resembles in style light and fruity Beaujolais. The next tier of reds, called Valpolicella Superiore, represents a darker and more serious and concentrated expression of Valpolicella, capable of pairing with red meat, roast poultry and hard cheeses.
Most prestigious in Valpolicella are the dry red, Amarone della Valpolicella, and its sweet counterpart, Recioto della Valpolicella. Both are created from harvested grapes left to dry for three to five months before going to press, resulting in intensely rich, lush, cerebral and cellar-worthy wines.
Falling in between Valpolicella Superiore and Amarone is a style called Valpolicella Ripasso, which has become immensely popular only since the turn of the century. Ripasso literally means “repassed” and is made by macerating fresh Valpolicella on the pressed grape skins of Amarone. As a result, a Ripasso will have more depth and complexity compared to a regular Superiore but is more approachable than an Amarone.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.