My first sip of Le Ragose Valpoicella Classico Superiore reminded me of biting into the perfect deep purple summer plum: rich, but bright and lively and fresh all at the same time.
Clearly, there was a lot going on in this wine.
Filled with complexity, it is a medium to full-bodied wine with lots of aromas, its old world character clearly showing its terroir, a bold and wonderful expression of the appellation in the province of Verona, east of Lake Garda.
I must admit to being surprised. I had always thought of the Veneto as being Italy’s wine factory where gallons of pale red, insipid red Valpolicella wine was poured into millions of bottles shipped to Italian restaurants all over the world. I had this image of the region as rows of flat vineyards that yielded characterless wine with very little prestige.
I was wrong.
There are a few ambitious winemakers who are turning around that perception. Le Ragose, owned by Arnaldo and Marta Galli, is one such domaine that is making extremely good wines.
Located north of Verona, in the town of Negrar, at the highest point of Valpolicella, the 70-acre estate overlooking the plains below had been abandoned in favor of the easily farmed spots further down the hills when the then young oenologist couple found it in 1969. They bought it and replanted the vineyards, deciding to make Amarone and Valpolicella in as traditional and natural a way as possible.
Today, their 40 hectares of trellis, terraced vines sit well above the fog of the valley and are perfectly suited for appassimento, the process of drying grapes essential to Amarone wines.
Forty-five years ago, Marta and Arnaldo committed themselves to quality and tradition, which they have passed on to their sons, Marco and Paolo who now run the family business with as much passion as their parents.
Pair with a roast, grilled red meats, hard cheese or anything with a hearty sauce.