Recioto della Valpolicella, or Recioto for short, is created in the Venitian region of Valpolicella in North Eastern Italy. Originally there was only one legal region, or DOC, for the Valpolicella name. These wines are made with the Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. Two sub-groups emerged, though - recioto, which is a sweet dessert wine, and Amarone, which is a dry red wine with great body.
Both Recioto and Amarone are made with grapes that have been dried on racks, bringing out their flavors. In 1991 these two were granted their own DOCs. The land area encompassed by these three DOCs is the same, but the types of wine are quite different.
The recioto style came about as Veneto's winemakers sought a way of increasing the body and complexity of their wines. Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella, which are the three main grape types grown in the area, were not renowned for their ability to produce deep satisfying wines. This coupled with the cool growing conditions found in Western Veneto meant growers had to find a method to concentrate the the natural flavors and aromatics of their grapes. This was achieved by drying the grapes after harvest, which removed some of the water and concerntrated the flavors and sugars, helping them produce a more concentrated sweeter style of wine.
Once the grapes are dried they are pressed and the must is fermented until it reaches the desired balance of sweetness and alcoholic strength. The resulting wine is then aged in barrels for a minimum of two years.
The Valpolicella region has a mild to cool climate and is influenced by its close proximately to Lake Garda to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the southeast. The coolest regions are found in the Monti Lessini foothills to the north with cool winds blowing southward from the Alps. Towards the south and east, the climate gets warmer in the fertile plains of the Adige river. The mean temperature in the growing season is usually around 74.3°F (23.5°C) with average rainfall around 860mm (34inches).
The soils in the region range from dolomite residual gravel with alluvial deposits in the fertile central plains to morainic gravel near Lake Garda. To the east there are several areas featuring rich volcanic soils. The most favorably situated vineyards are to be found in the Monti Lessini foothills where the grapes ripen at altitudes between 490–1500 feet (150–450 meters).
Recioto is deep ruby red in color. They tend to have a spicy bouquet, with hints of dried fruit. These wines are round, full and velvety on the palate. They are, for all intensive purposes, a sweeter version of Amarone. It pairs well with desserts such as shortbread, and dark chocolate cakes. It will go well with some cheeses, particularly a mild Gorgonzola.