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Roccolo Grassi is a remarkable Veneto success story. Prior to 1998 the grapes from the family estate were sold to the local Coop; since then youthful owner/winemaker Marco Sartori has quickly established the domaine as one the greatest producers of Valpolicella and Soave, even inviting comparisons with the grand master of Veneto, Romano dal Forno.

Thirty-two acres of vines (22 acres of red varieties and 10 of white) produce a total of 38,000 bottles - less than 3,200 cases of 5 different wines: Soave, Soave Recioto, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Amarone, and Valpolicella Recioto. Each wine is vineyard-specific, with different grape varieties matched with soils, elevation, and exposure.

A visit to the modest tasting room reveals both Marco's inspiration and his high aspirations: the shelves are lined with prized empty bottles of Petrus, Latour, La Tache, and Chave Hermitage. Winemaking is an enlightened combination of tradition and innovation, for example combining new technology for temperature control during fermentation and careful ageing in large old French and Slovenian oak casks. The idea is that new technology is only ever used when it is seen to enhance traditional practices and preserve the native wine styles of the Veneto.

These are beautifully structured, very serious wines that always reflect Marco Sartori's passionate commitment to the indigenous grape varieties and the winemaking traditions of the Veneto. They are superb value for money.

The Amarone is harvested in small boxes, 6-7 kilos each, and after fermentation spends 3 years in French barriques (40% of which are new) and a further aging of 1 year in bottle.

The Valpolicella Superiore undergoes the same careful selection in the vineyards, however, 25% of the fruit is dried for 20 days and blended with fresh fruit after fermentation. The wine spends 20 months in French barriques. The result is an incredibly structured wine that is profoundly Ripasso-like.

Roccolo Grassi's splendid Soave is made from 100% garganega grapes from La Broia, a classic calcareous vineyard on a steep SE-facing slope. The grapes are meticulously tended with sustainable farming practices and harvested by hand; winemaking includes 12 months in a combination of steel, French oak barriques and Slavonian oak casks, with full malolactic fermentation. The wine has lovely aromas of honeysuckle, apricots, and pears, with a delightful undertone of roasted almonds, a definitive hallmark of great Soave. The finish is long fresh and clean. This is one of our favorite under the radar white selections in the Liquid Art portfolio!

Reviews for this winery

  • Vinous

    Proprietor Marco Sartori makes some of the most striking, pure Valpolicellas and Amarones readers will come across. Sartori favors relatively little influence from dried grapes in his reds, so readers should expect modern Valpolicellas and Amarones without high levels of residual sugar.

    July 2015