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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > ITALY: North-East Reds, including Valpolicella & Amarone

Winner Details

Italy: North-East - Red, including Amarone & Valpolicella

2016 Gold: 5 Silver: 9 Bronze: 8 Commended: 9
2015 Gold: 3 Silver: 10 Bronze: 3 Commended: 8

This region popped and fizzed with the erratic brilliance of a match in a box of fireworks. Amarones supplied the big bangs that left a hole in the wallet, but a smile on the face and a trembling in the heart of the tasters – plenty of good stuff here this year, and at £25, Domìni Veneti’s Gold Listed offering is practically entry level.

The sparklers were the Veneto reds – cheaper, often lighter and generally joyful wines that made you want to spell out your name in lifted red fruit flavours.

The most problematic flight, without doubt, was the Valpolicellas. There seems to be a big stylistic shift in the region, with fewer producers interested in lighter (and affordable) styles and a move towards richer riper (not always ripasso) wines.

The result? Some wines that metaphorically shot joyous clusters of stars into the air with layers of complexity and interest, and others that stubbornly refused to light or shot problematically sideways and set fire to the garden fence.

The one constant across all the flights? Price. Only four of our medal winners from this region were under £10.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The Amarones are all too expensive.’ Dominique Raclin, consultant sommelier

‘[The Veneto wines] was a good food flight. They had a lot going on. There was a lot of flavour. The wines all had great personalities. They spoke to you.’ Jade Koch, team leader

‘The Amarones are hard not to like, and actually the alcohol wasn’t too harsh.’ Ignacio Campos, Hawksmoor Seven Dials

‘There is a commercial aspect to these Veneto wines. Customers love these kind of wines: the modern ripasso style. A lot of people in a pub environment are looking for something sweet and fruity by the glass.’ Charlie Young, Vinoteca

‘There was quite a lot of disagreement within the group in terms of style. There were some big “made wines” – international bruisers. I am slightly concerned that Valpolicella is being pushed into something it shouldn’t be.’ Simon Woods, team leader

‘There was a lot of herbaceousness in the Valpolicellas without the fruit that we were looking for.’ Jonathan Kleeman, Social Eating House
‘It’s not too much of an issue selling a £200 bottle of Amarone.’ Andrés Ituarte, Avenue Restaurant

“In game season and in winter, I think these Veneto wines really sing. You could have guinea fowl, venison, wild mushrooms, some quite crazy flavours, without it overpowering the wines.” Jade Koch, team leader

“I got what I was expecting. You have to pay to get good Amarone…” Harry Crowther, M Restaurants

FOOTNOTE: For wines from Trentino, Alto Adige & Friuli-Venezia Giuli.

Award winners

Found 31 wines

Italy: North-East - Red, including Amarone & Valpolicella

Domìni Veneti, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Gold medal winner

The care and attention – 120 days appassimento for the grapes prior to fermentation – from one of Italy's finest co-operatives show in this Gold Lister's style and depth. 'Ripe, jammy and concentrated on the nose with blackberry and blackcurrant aromas,' began Charles Van Wyk of FJB Collection, continuing: 'Full-bodied in the mouth, cut by fresh acidity that brings the wine to life, then tannins ripe and well integrated. Well-made wine.' Indeed.

£25.00 Alivini

Zenato, Ripassa, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Gold medal winner

'Very modern – international,' said team leader Martin Lam of this youthful Gold Lister. Deborah-Lynn Morris of Aramark at JP Morgan highlighted its 'cigar box and petrol nose, with well-balanced fruit and integrated oak and tannin', finding it 'excellent', while The Vineyard Group's James Hocking agreed: 'Delicious, clean with massive concentration and great minerality'.

£13.36 Eurowines

Domini Veneti, Vigneti di Torbe, Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore, 2014, Veneto , Italy

Gold medal winner

Great balance, intense dark, small berries and sweet spices captured the judges' hearts. 'The nose is elegant with red and black fruits, but not jammy,' began Francesco Gabriele of The Dining Room at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, continuing: 'The palate is sweet and balanced with no aggressive tannins and medium length.'

£15.00 Alivini

Ca' del Colle, Cabernet, Colli Euganei, 2014, Veneto , Italy

Gold medal winner

'Refreshing, green, leafy aromas with light rhubarb hints, dancing on the palate with bright fruit and cherry drops,' said team leader Jade Koch, adding: 'Could be served chilled.' Consultant Sumita Sarma felt it was a 'great value proposition', adding: 'It's beautifully mouthcoating, but also delicate and evenly structured. Great food-pairing wine with a lingering finish.'

£7.28 Please contact winery for further information

47 Anno Domini, Garbin, 2011, Veneto , Italy

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

'A great wine, with ultra-ripe, modern style,' said team leader Olivier Marie, highlighting how it scooped a Critics' Choice Trophy, and continuing: 'Complex, opulent and fleshy – moreish.' 'Amazing balance between its plentiful black fruits, acidity and ripe tannins,' began Alexandru Pastrav of Fenchurch Sky Garden, continuing: 'Aromas of bramble fruit, tea, blackcurrant and sweet spices with a long finish.' Great with guinea fowl.

£33.12 Please contact winery for further information

Pieropan, Ruberpan, Valpolicella Superiore, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

Team leader Olivier Marie highlighted its 'elegant sweet and bitter style with attractive plumpness', noting: 'Fleshy and voluptuous, with suave tannins balanced by a touch of freshness,' while Sky Garden's Morgan Daniel commented on 'the combination of good minerality and meatiness'.

£13.50 Liberty Wines

Villa Mattielli, Valpolicella Ripasso, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Fruity nose of overripe red fruits, stewed black cherry and plum character, minerality and some freshness on the palate. Quite elegant,' said Francesco Gabriele of The Dining Room at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa.

£11.67 Top Selection Ltd

Nicolis, Ambrosan, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2007, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Tons of pepper, dark dense black fruit, concentrated tight tannins. Really well made, very good,' said Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant. 'Rich, intense, ripe black fruits, high in tannins and savoury with a long finish,' agreed Bovey Castle's Rustem Mingaleev.

£35.65 Bibendum Wine

Zenato, Sergio Zenato, Amarone Classico della Valpolicella Riserva, 2009, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Redcurrants, a bit animal on the nose, with liquorice, anise and coffee notes,' began Ignacio Campos of Hawksmoor Seven Dials, continuing: 'Full on the palate, all in tune, with cooked red fruit, ripe berries, dried fruit, raisins and coffee notes and a lovely finish.'

£54.25 Eurowines

Masi, Serego Alighieri, Vaio Armaron, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2009, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Well balanced, nice juicy red fruits with plums, prunes and blackcurrant,' said Roka Mayfair's Nausicaa Rotoloni, adding: 'Subtle hints of dark chocolate on the palate and finish, with good acidity and tannin balance.' 'Plush but firm tannins, with a long, concentrated, savoury finish,' added team leader Natasha Hughes MW.

£34.40 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Campagnola, Ripasso, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, 2014, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Lively, crisp acidity with bright fruit and a pleasant texture on the palate,' began team leader Olivier Marie, going on: 'Tannins are fully ripe and soft, their slight astringency bringing definition,' while Elly Owen of Fifteen Cornwall noted 'chocolate, cinnamon with sweet spice'.

£8.85 Eurowines

Allegrini, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2011, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Concentrated ripe blueberry and blackberry notes, complemented by secondary sweet cedar spice and distinctive dried prune. Tannins are ripe, well-integrated, and the acidity adds an excitement to the wine,' said Charles Van Wyk of FJB Collection, while L'Ortolan's Guillaume Kaczmar concluded: 'Real Amarone! Elegance and freshness. Expressive and a refined style.'

£36.50 Liberty Wines

Ca'Rugate, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

Gabriele Galuppo of Theo Randall at the InterContinental found this a 'classic and faithful interpretation of the terroir', with its 'nice balance of ripe red fruits and red pepper on the nose, and rich, fruity, elegant balance on the palate'. 'Intense, long, chewy but resolved tannins,' added team leader Martin Lam.

£23.11 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Bertani, Vintage Edition, Secco, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Complex and well made, spices and green bell pepper notes with dark fruits on a smooth palate with a smoky finish,' said Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at the InterContinental. 'Marzipan fruit cake with light body, almonds, easy to drink,' added Piotr Tomaszewski of JKS Restaurants.

£15.63 Enotria&Coe

Zenato, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2011, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Earthy truffles on the nose, rich and complex palate with chocolate, mocha notes, intense and long,' began team leader Andrea Briccarello, with Roka Mayfair's Nausicaa Rotoloni also finding 'liquorice and prunes, very complex and excellent for the price'.

£28.18 Eurowines

Campagnola, Vigneti Vallata di Marano, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Charming nose, floral with raisins, damson and dried fruit,' began Ignacio Campos of Hawksmoor Seven Dials, adding: 'Big and rounded on the palate, balanced with red and black fruit, then notes of cooking spices on the finish.'

£17.68 Eurowines

Almadi, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Light nose with raspberry and blackberry fruit notes, good attack on the palate with lots of wood,' began consultant sommelier Dominique Raclin, while Ignacio Campos of Hawksmoor Seven Dials found 'maraschino cherries, savoury notes, dried red flowers and an elegant palate with red cherry, meaty tones, spices and blackcurrant'.

£23.50 The Flying Corkscrew

Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Simon Woods found this an 'attractive and balanced style, really lovely', with its 'ripe, plush, juicy fruit aromas and sour black cherry on the palate'.

£8.32 Eurowines

Masi, Mazzano, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2009, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Very serious, very well made,' began Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant, continuing: 'Peppery and long, hints of brett but lots of spice. Balanced with a long, woody finish.' Ignacio Campos of Hawksmoor Seven Dials added: 'Black forest fruits, mushroom, savoury notes. A bit dirty, but in a good way. Big, dense, powerful.'

£61.35 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Alpha Zeta, A, Amarone della Valpolicella, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Very fruity, clean, spicy, warm and big enough. High level of ripe tannins but well-integrated alcohol. Just what I expect,' said Enikő Heidenwolf of 67 Pall Mall. 'Complex chocolate, ripe jammy and raspberry fruit, good freshness that helps to balance, with that subtle hint of menthol,' added Roka Mayfair's Nausicaa Rotoloni.

£17.95 Liberty Wines

Riondo, Castelforte, Corvina Veronese, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Ripe yet vegetal aromas, warming alcohol with decent balance on the palate, which is smooth, with notes of black tea, cherry and sage, and a touch of drying tannin. Interesting,' said China Tang at The Dorchester's John Giffrin.

£8.00 Forth Wines

Valpolicella Negrar, Poggio al Lago, Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Gentle and juicy, clean yet grippy,' began team leader Simon Woods, continuing: 'Good, tangy floral black cherry on a refreshing palate that has an almond bite.'

£12.50 Direct Wines

Masi, Brolo Campofiorin, Rosso del Veronese, 2010, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

Alpha Zeta , R, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, 2014, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

£9.40 Liberty Wines

Masi, Riserva di Costasera, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2009, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

Bertani, Villa Arvedi, Valpantena, Amarone della Valpolicella, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

£25.13 Enotria&Coe

Masi, Campolongo di Torbe, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2009, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

Ca' La Bionda, Ravazzol, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2009, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

Bertani , Valpolicella Ripasso, 2013, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

£10.67 Enotria&Coe

Almadi , Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, 2014, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

Botter , Gran Verossa, Rosso , 2014, Veneto , Italy

Commended medal winner

£6.30 Greene King