We’re back in Valpolicella on the second day of our trip. This time we visit Novaia. High up on the hillside, it looks down over a beautiful valley with wines and olive oil to match the setting. Novaia switched to organic farming in 2011 and received the organic certification in 2014.
The Novaia story
The family behind the Novaia name has been living in the same location since the 16th century. In the 14th century, the old building was used as a pigeon farm. The family started to produce wine commercially four generations ago, in 1918. Now, the winery is in the capable hands of Cesare and GiamPaolo Vaona and their children, Cristina and Marcello. Marcello was our guide.
Novaia produces annually 40,000 bottles of wine, from 7 ha of vines, 70% of which are sold outside Italy.
Winemaking at Novaia
We saw Novaia’s great respect for the land and the grapes. Organically certified since 2014, they harvest grapes by hand. The best grapes (medium-sized, loose-packed, prime quality, ripe bunches) are allocated to the production of Amarone and Recioto. They go directly from the vineyard to the drying room.
They used bamboo trays in the past, but now grapes are dried on the same wooden pallets used for harvesting, to avoid being touched twice. Plus, experienced workforce is not always easily available during harvest time. Novaia keeps a rack of bamboo trays on display. We were happy to see them in real life, rather than being told about them.
Novaia wine is aged in large old wood barrels, made out of French and Slavonian oak, which are stored in a lovely cellar, carved out of rock. The ageing period for Novaia wine is less than the other producers we visited:
- Amarone: 24-36 months
- Valpolicella Superiore: 18 months
- Ripasso: 12 months
Novaia prefers to make a modern style of wine, with higher alcohol and more residual sugar. This makes the wines easier to drink on their own. The traditional style wine has lower alcohol and lower residual sugar and is suited better for pairing with food and perhaps longer ageing.
We tasted six wines at Novaia and found their Amarone Classico Riserva ‘Le Balze’ outstanding. The Amarone Classico, Recioto and the Valpolicella Superiore were very good.
Novaia Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Riserva, 2009, 16% abv
The wine is a blend of four grapes: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta. Grapes come from a single vineyard and spent four months in the drying room. This is the longest aged wine at Novaia, spending 36 months in barrel and at least eight months in the bottle. This style of wine is only produced in the best years.
Tasting notes: deep garnet colour, with pronounced distinct aromas of dried fruit, cherry jam, liquorice, parmesan and savoury. On the palate, dry, with medium (+) tannin, high alcohol, full body, medium acidity. On the palate it is very elegant, with flavours of kirsh, coffee and a long dark chocolate finish. This wine is developing. Can age more, but the producer recommends not more than ten years of ageing.
Our rating: Outstanding
Price: you can buy it online from Wineshop.it at 47€. They deliver to UK with a shipment fee of 16.2€. Minimum order: 6 bottles.
Food pairing: this wine will go perfectly with game. Novaia recommends wild boar, but I will extend it to venison, bear (yes, we eat bear in Romania – it’s why we’re so tough!), pheasant or any other savoury fat meat.
Novaia Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico, 2011, 15% abv
The wine is a blend of four grapes: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta. Grapes spent ~three months in the drying room. This Amarone is aged for 24 months in barrel and at least eight months in the bottle.
Tasting notes: deep ruby colour, with pronounced distinct aromas of dried fruit, cherry, liquorice, eucalyptus. On the palate, dry, with medium (+) tannin, high alcohol, full body, medium acidity. On the palate it is velvety, with flavours of herbs, balsamico, savoury, chocolate and tobacco and a medium (+) finish. This wine is developing and I would keep it a bit longer, as the nose was very fruity and vibrant.
Our rating: Very good
Price: you can buy it online from Wineshop.it at 28€.
Food pairing: this wine will go perfectly with game, grilled, roasted or braised meat, roast lamb or goat, slightly fat, tasty and mature cheese.
Novaia Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012, 14% abv
The wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. This blend comes from a single vineyard, at the highest altitude (400m). Grapes were dried for one month and the wine spent 18 months in old oak.
Tasting notes: medium intensity ruby colour, with medium (+) intensity aromas of cherry, flower perfume, rosemary converging to savoury. On the palate dry, with medium (-) acidity, medium tannin, medium (+) alcohol and medium body. Long sour cherry finish. This wine is developing, but can be drunk now.
Our rating: very good
Price: you can buy it online from Wineshop.it at 15€.
Food pairing: this wine will go very well with antipasti, pizza, risotto or drink it at the start of the meal by itself. I love opening a bottle to keep me company when I make Italian dishes like home-made pasta or lasagna.
Novaia Recioto Della Valpolicella 13.5%abv
The wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta. Grapes were dried for four months and the wine spent 18 months in barrel ageing and at least six months as bottle ageing.
Tasting notes: medium intensity ruby colour, with medium (+) intensity aromas of wild strawberries, casis and spices. On the palate semi-sweet, with medium(+) acidity, medium (-) tannin, medium alcohol and medium body with a good structure. Medium (+) finish. Although this wine is developing, I would drink it now.
Our rating: very good
Price: you can buy it online from Wineshop.it at 16.6€ half-bottle.
Food pairing: this will go very well with plum pies and fruit tarts. I think it will also go nicely with goat cheese.
You can contact the winery directly, as they are open to visits. If you want a guided tour, our friends at Pagus are listed on their website as an option.
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