It’s not often that we profile a grape variety in the pages of the Xtrawine blog. Usually, we tend to focus on the Italian wines that come from the grape, rather than the grape itself.
We’re going to try something a little different with this article. Not only are we going to look at some interesting facts about one of the most important regions in the Italian wine industry, but we’re also going to look at one of the grapes that has come out of it.
Let’s tackle the grape first. This week, we’re going to be looking at Corvina.
The Corvina Grape
The Corvina grape carries a number of different names. Some refer to it as the Corvina Veronese, while others call it the Cruina.
Regardless of the name you choose, it’s a grape that comes from the Veneto region of Italy and it accounts for about 18,500 acres of the grapes grow in the region. Interestingly, there are also 47 acres of land in Argentina that are deemed worthy of carrying the grape.
Generally speaking, the grape gets mixed with a number of other grapes to create such powerhouses as Amarone, Recioto, and Valpolicella. As a quick note, it’s the latter of those wines and regions that we’re going to focus our fun facts section on a little bit later on in the article.
They Types of Wine That it Produces
The Corvina grape tends to produce fairly light red wines, though some manage to gain enough complexity to become medium-bodied wines. It has a very high acidity, which lends some sharpness to the wines that it’s used for. Those experienced in picking out wine notes will also tell you that it has a bitter almond taste.
However, this contrasts to the grapes typical finish, which features some strong sour cherry notes, this making the Corvina wines a fruity experience.
The more complex varieties of wines made using the grape tend to come from the Valpolicella region. This is because some of the producers in this region use barrel ageing when preparing the grape, which gives it a stronger structure.
Having said this, the grape is fairly low in tannins. However, it’s a hardy grape with a thick skin. This makes them the ideal candidate for drying, as well as providing some protection against rot when the grape is growing.
It’s also ripens fairly late in the season, which means that producers usually have to brave the Autumn chill to harvest the grape. The vine itself it also quite slow to start sprouting fruit. In fact, it will go through a number of growing cycles before the bud starts to produce a fruit. As a result, those who decide to plant fresh Corvina for use in wines often have to wait for several years before their efforts will bear any fruit.
There’s also a common knock against the Corvina grape in relation to its yield. Once it gets going, the vine can produce some exceptionally high yields. Some speculate that this can have a negative effect on the quality of the grape, which is why Corvina growers must be very careful to only harvest the best quality grapes that come from these high yields.
It’s also often confused with the Corvinone grape, which also comes from the Veneto region. However, the pair share now relationship. Interestingly, recent DNA testing has shown that the grape has a close relationship with the Rondinella grape, which also comes from the same region. It’s actually a parent variety to this grape, which means that the Corvina grape’s influence actually spreads a little further into the Italian wine industry than you may realise.
With all of that being said, Corvina still plays an essential role on the overall makeup of Valpolicella. To round out this article, we’re going to take a look at some interesting facts about the wine and the region that you may not know.
It’s a Highly Respected Wine Region
We’ll start with something obvious first. Valpolicella, and the wines that emanate from it, carry a great deal of respect from the Italian wine industry. In fact, the name itself comes from a combination of Greek and Latin that literally translates to “the valley of many cellars”. This suggests that the region had built a reputation for wine production long before the emergence of the modern Italian wine industry.
Valpolicella also has another, perhaps more familiar name. It’s known as the “pearl of Verona”. It likely carries this name because of how its wine production, as important as it is, takes place on the foothills to the north of the Adige River. This gives them a slightly hidden quality.
Nevertheless, those living in the region have been producing wines from its many grapes since the days of the Ancient Greeks.
It’s in the Top 10 of Italian Wines
When you think of the best and most prolific Italian wines, you likely think of Prosecco, Chianti, Barolo, and other similarly big-named types of wine.
But you can now add Valpolicella to that list. The wine recently managed to break into the country’s top 10 in terms of production and quality. The high yield of the Corvina grape is likely what helped it in terms of production, but the quality comes down to the great work of the producers as much as it does the Corvina grape.
Corvina is the Wine’s Main Grape
Corvina is only one of the grapes used in the production of Valpolicella. The others are Rondinella and Molinara. However, the later of these is not a compulsory grape, so producers have some choice there.
You could also take the previously mentioned relationship between Corvina and Rondinella to suggest that the Valpolicella wine is practically a hundred percent Corvina product. Regardless, a wine that carries the Valpolicella DOC label must contain at least 45% of Corvina, with a maximum of 90%.
The Final Word
Corvina is one of the oldest grapes in the Italian wine industry, and it’s fast becoming one of the most respected.
As the popularity of Valpolicella continues to increase, we’re likely going to start hearing a lot more about this versatile grape and the regions that it calls home.