Valpolicella Superiore DOC is the second step towards the excellency of the Amarone among Valpolicella wines.
According to Valpolicella Consortium production rules a Valpolicella wine can be called Superiore (superior) if it has at least 12% of alcohol and one year of ageing from January 1st of the sedond year after harvest. Usually on the market you will find Valpolicella Superiore wines of two years.
In Italy it is forbidden to add sugar to must in order to rise alcohol content (it is only possible for sparkling wines) and for DOC wines it is also forbidden to add must with higher sugar content coming from other regions then the registered DOC area, like those of grapes from southern regions vineyards. In order to achieve the requirements of the production rules there is usually a selection of grapes with higher sugar content. It is also true that in recent years, due to warmer Summers, reaching the minimum alcohol requirements is never a problem and basic Valpolicella too usually reach 12%.
Many producers in the pursue of more structure and aromas for the Valpolicella Superiore, developed a variety of wine making techniques to enrich this popular wine. Some wine makers are using the Ripasso technique. It is a very old wine making method in which the Valpolicella wine is put on the skins remaining from the production of Amarone. The resulting second fermentation in which the residual sugars in the skin of Amarone turns into alcohol and give the Valpolicella wine more perfumes and structure.
Valpolicella Superiore is usualy made with fresh grapes but some producers are now drying them like they do for the Amarone, but for a limited period of time. For the Superiore it is usually only one month.
Concerning ageing, Cosortium rules do not specify how this has to be done. Theoretically Valpolicella Superiore could be left in stainless steel tanks like basic Valpolicella, but almost all wine makers prefer to put it into wood barrels for 6-12 months.
Valpolicella Superiore is a wine in between normal Valpolicella wine and Amarone. It is rounder and smoother than basic Valpolicella, having a higher alcohol conent and lower acidity but it is not as full bodied and powerful as the Amarone.
Valpolicella Superiore is probably the most versatile among Valpolicella wines. It is usually an affordable wine (10 to 20 euros) that can be easily paired with an incredibly wide variety of dishes: tasty pastas and risottos, cheese, meat dishes and tasteful fish like grilled salmon, fried cod or baked tuna.
During the wine tours organized by Amarone Tours in Valpolicella wine producing region the tasting that follows the visit at a winery always includes the Valpolicella Superiore, often in a Ripasso or double fermentation version. Producers are often very proud of their Valpolicella Superiore which is usually a best seller wine because of its high value for money.