Molinara is an indigenous Italian red wine grape varietal grown primarily in the Veneto region of north eastern Italy, with first records dating back to early 1800’s. The varietal is used to add balanced acidity to the traditional blends of Valpolicella and Bardolino wines made with the Corvina and Rondinella varietals.
As a single varietal wine - it has a high propensity for oxidation, coupled with its light colour extract, causing a decline in popularity and in vine plantings among Venetian vineyards. Depending upon where it is grown and vine health, the grape skin can vary in colour from being pink through to a purple or blue. More recently the varietal is occasionally blended with Merlot to produce soft elegant rosé wines.
During the veraison period, due to an abundance of a bloom on the outside of the berry skin, Molinari has used the Italian name or word, meaning ‘flour mill’. Referring to the powdery yeasts which cover the skins of the grapes, making them appear as if they were coated in flour. It is also valued for the mineral quality it gives to wines. The vine canopy is quite distinctive with a medium to large leaf which is slightly elongated, with three-lobes. The berry bunches form in a medium sized cluster, in an elongated pyramid shape, with one or two short wings, and the bunches are produced in sparse numbers across the vine.
The berries are also medium in size, which grow in a spherical or slightly elongated shape with a purplish-red to even a blue skin, firm and slightly thick skins which are typically covered as mentioned above with an abundant bloom. The varietal is well suited to hilly terrain, well exposed and ventilated, which suites a pergola trellis-style canopy.
By wine region this is a list of the DOC and DOCG wines which can use this varietal.
Bardolino Superiore: 0 to 10%
Bardolino: 0 to 10%
Valpolicella: 5 to 25% - (which also includes the most recent revision of DOC in 2003).
Molinara already only plays a minor role in these wines and is shrinking further. Moreover the most recent trends in the production of ‘Amarone’ wines tend to favour power rather than elegance, with darker, thicker and more concentrated wines in which the delicate Molinara grape is finding it hard to find its place in the blend.
With the latest change in the DOCG production rules for Amarone style wines released by the Valpolicella Consortium, winemakers are now allowed to replace the 5-10% of Molinara with other varietals. Many producers have decided to stick with tradition and continued to use it, confident that wine connoisseurs will understand and appreciate their decision. Others are using varietals which are darker in colour such as Sangiovese and Merlot. Even with a new rule change by the Consortium which is due soon, it will probably limit to local varietals the choice for the remaining 5-10% in the blend of Valpolicella and Amarone wines.