Thursday, December 27, 2012

Corvina McShoegaze

          I was all set to make Corvina out to be some kind of blood thirsty child of the night. I mean, Corvina sounds like it could be the name of some pre-goth shoe-gaze band or a character in an Anne Rice novel.
Corvina was going to creep silently through the night and feast on the vines of other grapes to a faint beat of some glam-techno in the background all while doing some incredibly gay shiz that's not gay because he's a vampire. That is if I were to decide that Corvina would be a man. I guess the name lends itself to a woman a little better if you're one to bite off on all that gender roll stuff that we've been programming into our brains since at least the early 90's. So one would have to think that if Corvina were a lady then there would be a corset and purple bodice somewhere in the mix. Maybe her last name would be something like Dragonmauler. Corvina Dragonmauler, destroyer of worlds.
Why do all the dragons I maul have boners?
Turns out none of these stories are representative of the grape itself. Corvina is a tiny red grape grown mainly in Veneto, located in the Tre Venezia of Northeastern Italy. It's has thick skin, a deep color, and loves the everloving shit out of the sun. This description already rules out the fact that it’s a vampire.   It actually loves the sun so much that in some cases the stuff is picked and then set out on straw mats, sometimes in open air, to obtain a sort of quasi-raisin quality. The grapes are then pressed and used to make the wine Amarone. In some cases the post-press leftovers from the Amarone, known as the pomace, will then have a run of fresh Valpollicella wine run over it and allowed to ferment a second time producing the wine Ripasso. Other names for Ripasso include Baby Amorone, Suede Shoe Grape Juice, and Drank.
Getting to the heart of things Valpollicella is the wine Corvina is most known for. Valpo has to consist of at least 70% Corvina and in a way Amarone and Ripasso are just other "kinds" of Valpollicella.
There's a large range between those wines. Valpo by itself can be a somewhat light, fruit driven wine with an above average acidity. It's consumption wine. Consumed with food, by itself, or with codeine. Anyway you want to go about it, this wine is best when put in your belly at a young age.
Ripasso on the other hand has quite a bit more depth and complexity to it.  For the most part it retains the fruity characteristics of the Vlapo but has an extra angle added to it from the process of passing it over the pomace of the Amarone.  These wines are a bit more agreeable to aging because the acidity of the Valpo is still strong and wine receives another helping of tannins from the skins, seeds, stems, etc which it is run through.
          Amarone is the grand-daddy.  It’s the most expensive wine made of the three because the process of making it is so tedious and time consuming.  These wines not only age well but usually need a few years of shelf time before they open up enough to be enjoyable.  As I said before the grapes are picked and then laid out on straw mats in a process known as appassimento.  Amarone in Italian means extra bitter.
          But wait, there’s more.  Corvina can also be found in Recioto which is made in the same fashion as Amarone except that at some point the fermentation process is halted before completion (usually due to the presence of Botrytis) resulting in a sweet wine.  Since I referred to Amarone as the grand-daddy earlier I guess it’s only fair to say that Recioto is the grand-mama of Corvina based grapes because it’s sweet and it’ll get you drunk.
          Annnnd it’s also used in the neighboring region of Verona (home of Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers) to make a wine called Bardolino.  Bardolino isn’t much different from the Valpo in that it’s made from predominately Corvina with Rondinella and Molinara thrown in for good measure.  However Bardolinos are allowed to contain up to a certain percentage of Sangiovese, Barbera, and Gargenaga.  Gargenaga is most known for attacking Tokyo in the 1960’s and getting into a battle to the death with Mothra.

According to the Urban Dictionary they're called waffle goths
          So really it’s difficult to make fun of such a hard working grape.  The stuff pops up everywhere.  You won’t find it at the Waffle House sustaining itself on coffee and hand-rolled cigarettes regurgitating Poe and arguing about who’s a better fit for Pasty McMouthbreather from the Twilight movies.  You also won’t find it in a gypsy caravan telling fortunes based on what its glass eye does when it submerges it in rain water collected from a place in Wallachia where it’s believed Vlad Tepes once took a piss.
          Corvina is sort of like that girl from class named Moonbeam Sparkle because her parents were loaded on acid while filling out her birth certificate but she gets great grades, takes AP classes, and thinks Ronald Regan is the greatest thing that ever happened to this country.  Corvina is an over-achiever and a real life version of the show Family Ties. 
          Given the grape’s versatility it’s no wonder it’s so popular.  A single wine maker can pump out Valpolicellas like Dugger kids keeping the cash flow coming in while making some of it into Ripasso thus giving the wine some sweat equity and getting to charge quite a bit more, all the while crafting Amarone which satisfies their desire to produce poetry in a bottle.  This kind of system is what all wine makers would like to achieve I imagine.  Except maybe for the ones that just want to make great wine and die poor.  That’s cool too.
My nose was stuffed up from all my boyfriend's glitter


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