- 2018 Cecilia Beretta, Valpolicella, Verona, Italy ($11.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
The wines of this region have come a long way since critic Robert Parker dismissed them as “insipid, industrial garbage” over a decade ago. This one in particular is a pretty good representation of how quickly winemakers in the region have begun turning out satisfying wines that compare favorably to others at similar price points.
The Valpolicella wine zone, in northeastern Italy’s Veneto region, produces some of Italy’s best-known red wines, using predominantly Corvina grapes.
Wines bearing the Valpolicella DOC label are fresh and cherry-scented, with a slight hint of bitterness on the finish. These light-bodied red wines are nice companions for food that might be overpowered by heavier red wines, and they can be chilled slightly to enjoy in warm weather. More substantial Valpolicella Superiore wines such as this one are one point higher in alcohol and are aged for a minimum of one year. Those labeled Valpolicella Classico are generally acknowledged to be of highest quality – they come from a designated zone at the heart of the Valpolicella region, where the grapes grow on steeply terraced vineyards.
The most acclaimed wine of the region is the powerful and extracted Amarone della Valpolicella (which is often referred to simplay as Amarone) which carries DOCG status. Winemakers select the ripest grapes and leave them to dry for several weeks in special temperature-controlled rooms. The raisins that remain are pressed and fermented to dryness, producing an intense wine that must be at least 14 percent alcohol and aged for two years.
Ripasso is another unique style from Valpolicella. Winemakers pour standard Valpolicella wine over the pressed skins left from Amarone production, initiating a second fermentation, enriching the Valpolicella and boosting its alcohol level. Ripasso, sometimes known as “baby Amarone” or “the poor man’s Amarone,” is a great value alternative to the more expensive wine.
While this Valpolicella Superiore from Trader Joe’s is not classified as Ripasso, it tastes to me like it may have had some contact with the aforementioned pressed skins. Regardless of how precisely the winemakers of Cecilia Beretta coax this wine from the vineyards and vinification process, the result is a very pleasant wine that pairs exceptionally well with Italian fare and roasted and grilled meats. At just 13.5% alcohol, I am thinking this is going to be one of our “house wines” for those nights where bowls of pasta are served.
Very nice, complex flavor experience. Equal hints of black cherry, plum, red fruit, oak, and vanilla each take their turn, with a toast, spice and tobacco on the finish. Smooth, medium body, with tannins present but not powerful. Worth buying in bulk.
If your local Trader Joe’s carries this bottling, give it a try and let us know what you think by dropping a note here in the comments section or on our Facebook or Instagram posts.
And if your weekend does find you shopping at your local TJ’s, also keep an eye out for our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine. It’s a shopping list comprised of our most recent reviews.
Or if you’re headed to Costco, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list of Costco wine finds.