When I first tasted the Valpolicella wines produced by Valentina Cubi in January of 2011, I was captivated. After visiting the organic estate a few times over the last decade and tasting the wines during the annual Amarone Anteprima events that are held every February in Verona, my appreciation has only deepened. This year the winery which is located in the Valpolicella Classica region of Fumane marks a key milestone celebrating a decade of organic certification.
The level of quality and beauty achieved in Cubi’s flagship Amarone Biologico Morar DOCG which was first released in 2016 represents far more than a return on an investment in organic certification. According to Valentina, “The first organic wine we bottled was Iperico, organic Valpolicella DOC, and that wine has traced our way.”
Winegrowing practices at the estate which was certified organic in 2010 include the use of vegetable compost or green manure that contains herbs to balance soil vitality and fertility while preventing imbalances. Cubi also incorporates biodynamic vineyard management practices as well with applications of 500P and 501 preparations to promote optimal vine health.
The ten-hectare estate is in Fumane, the northwestern-most region of Valpolicella Classica, and gets a moderating influence from Lake Garda just a few kilometers away. Vineyards are south and southeast-facing and planted on terraces from 170 to 350 metres on the slopes of the Lessini Mountains. Rocky, sandy, clay-based soils enable the estate to be farmed without irrigation.
Cubi began converting the estate to organic viticulture in 2007 and conducted her initial trials in the Ca ‘di Cozzi vineyard, near Verona. After which she converted the lower-elevation estate vineyards including Casterna, the vineyard behind the winery. This vineyard is Guyot trained and planted to permanent cover crops.
Prior to the initial conversion to organic which has occurred in two phases, the estate had been farmed conventionally in a way that Cubi describes as being “environmentally friendly.” She credits this with significantly reducing the stress on the vineyards during conversion something that has enabled them to preserve even their oldest vines planted in 1973 in the higher-elevation Monte Tenda cru.
According to Cubi, the second phase of organic conversion began in 2010 to bring the oldest vineyards which are planted to the estate’s highest elevations in to certified organic production by 2014.
Today the estate produces a portfolio of wines that range from the easy-drinking Iperico, the estate’s first organic release; Italbarro, a Valpolicella Superiore that spends one year in Slavonian oak; and Arusantico, a Ripasso named for the indigenous people who inhabited the Valpolicella region prior to Roman occupation.
The winery’s flagship, Morar, is an elegant, dry Amarone that is only released when deemed ready. Melioto, a Recioto, and Sin Cero, a sulfite-free natural wine, are only produced when the vintage conditions dictate. The estate produces between 45,000 and 70,000 bottles annually.
Cubi has been an advocate for organic farming in Valpolicella for more than a decade and her convictions have resulted in a marked improvement in the expression and vitality that I find in the wines. When I was visiting the region in 2018 for the Valpolicella Educators Program sponsored by the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella, her wine Morar was among those presented in the blind tasting examination. It was like greeting a good friend after an absence and picking up immediately where you left off. Only better.
Congratulations, Valentina Cubi, and tanti auguri for another delicious vintage.