Sunday, February 13, 2011

Corvina: The Gentleman of Verona

I've always had a special fondness for the Corvina grape.

A gift of a Bolla three-pack was what drove me to buy my first wine book, and two of the three Veronese wines in the trio were, in theory, made in part with Corvina - Bardolino and Valpolicella. In the late 70s, I fell in love with Amarone about the time I was discovering late-harvest Zins from Amador County.

More locally, I have been drinking wines from the past 10 years from my neighborhood Pennsylvania winery, Va La Vineyards, that does an excellent job of growing northern Italian grapes and making fine wines from them. For a time, the owner/winemaker, Anthony Vietri, made a solo Corvina - probably the first and only such wine in the U.S. - but more recently he has been blending Corvina and Nebbiolo to make what might be consider a local IGT. It is quite delicious.

Which brings me to two wine samples I received recently. I was quite excited that one of them was actually labeled "Corvina" - the just-launched 2005 Cesari "Jema" Corvina made from a single vineyard from San Pietro in the Valpolicella Classico region. It is a big and very serious wine, but still with a lot of fresh fruit going into its sixth year. There is a pleasant meaty flavor to it, with moderate tannins, good acidity and a creme fraiche undertaste. It developed well in the glass over an hour of drinking, but lost none of its freshness. It's a keeper and worth the $45 price tag.

The other wine is the 2006 Allegrini Amarone ($90). Allegrini is well-known for it's well-structured Amarones, and this one certainly keeps the faith. At first, the flavors of dark cherries are very sophisticated and smooth, but it gradually develops much-more-complex, earthy tastes with lots of tannins, exotic spices and a few bars of dark chocolate. It's very drinkable now, but will really blossom over the next two-to-five years and last much longer than that. Like most Amarones, it has some other grapes to go along with Corvina (80%), including Rondinella (15) and Oseleta (5).

Tasting these two wines at the same time made me reflect that, yes, life is good, as well as making a note to myself to check the air fare to Verona.

Until next time...
Roger Morris
QUICK HITS: It's nice to be writing again for Colman Andrews, my editor for years at Saveur, at My first post for them was last week on the "new" 155-year-old Taylor Fladgate "Scion" Port, which I also covered for Also check out this month's issue of Sommelier Journal for my seven-page article on the Alentejo region of Portugal.


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