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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Recioto, distinctive category of north-east Italian dried-grape wines, a historic speciality of veneto. The word derives from the Italian for ear, orecchio, because the wine was originally produced only from the ripest grapes in the bunch, from the upper lobes, or ears, although selected whole bunches have long been substituted. The most common forms of Recioto are sweet red Recioto della valpolicella and the rare sweet white Recioto di soave and Recioto di gambellara.

Recioto della Valpolicella, like its dry counterpart amarone , is produced from 45–95% corvina, the great native grape of Valpolicella up to half of which may be replaced by corvinone, and 5–30% rondinella, with up to 25% of the international varieties authorized in the province of Verona. As for Amarone, these grapes are raisined during the late autumn and winter months after the harvest in special drying rooms equipped with air conditioning and humidity control to avoid the development of botrytis which can lead to premature oxidation (although more traditional producers tend to embrace the complexity that botrytis under more natural drying conditions can add). Like Amarone it is produced in the Valpolicella doc zone which has been divided into a classico subzone and a larger zone whose wines are simply called Recioto. As for Amarone, docg status was achieved for Recioto della Valpolicella in 2009. The wine is a decisively sweet one as the grapes need by law to be dried until at least 1 December following the harvest. The white Recioto di Soave must be made from at least 70% garganega and a maximum of 30% trebbiano di soave, Pinot Bianco, and/or Chardonnay (although quality-oriented producers tend to eschew the last two which are generally included to compensate for lack of flavour and alcohol in grapes from high-yielding vineyards). Recioto di Gambellara must be 100% Garganega.