Marion, Borgo 2019/20 Valpolicella

Stefano and Nicoletta Campedelli of Marion

Fine examples of the Veneto's routinely ignored refreshing ruby of a wine.

From €9.10, CA$21, $16.99, £17.95, AU$37.99

Find the 2019

Find the 2020

With all the fuss that’s made of Amarone, the sweet, strong wine made from dried Valpolicella grapes that is presumably a much more profitable item for producers, we hear far too little of Valpolicella itself.

We at are arguably guilty of ignoring it to a certain extent too. The last time we featured Valpolicella as a wine of the week was in 2019 when Tam chose Allegrini 2018 Valpolicella. It’s a wine I am especially fond of since a much earlier vintage was the wine shared by me, Julia and José Vouillamoz at Rowley Leigh’s Café Anglais, now sadly defunct, when we first met – in 2006? – to discuss the project that became the multi-award-winning Wine Grapes that was finally published in 2012. More recently Tam has championed Valpolicella’s western neighbour Bardolino, doubtless feeling the name is less familiar than the oft-derided ‘Valpol’.

Back in 2009 Walter championed Cecilia Trucchi of Villa Bellini, who turned her back on Amarone and nurtured her family’s bush vines to produce a true expression of terroir in her DOC Valpolicella. But since then, Walter reports, she sold the estate to entrepreneur Pierantonio Riello of Riello Elettronica on the condition they continue to manage the vineyards organically. Apparently, the work with the bush vines became too much, and I see that Villa Bellini now produce an Amarone.

A year earlier Julia had treated us to a typically thorough profile of Valpolicella in the introduction to her assessment of the Valpolicellas, Bardolinos and Soaves then exported to the UK. But those are some of the few articles on that really focus on what can be a seriously delicious wine, a light- to medium-bodied red that, if made well, is really in tune with our times.

The admirable Allegrini apart, there are probably three cult names taking Valpolicella itself seriously: Quintarelli (now being run along the traditional and slightly idiosyncratic lines laid down by their father by Giuseppe Q’s progeny), Dal Forno and Marion.

Marion villa and vineyards, Valpolicella

The Marion estate is relatively new, being based on land around a particularly beautiful 15th-century villa in the Marcellise Valley that was acquired by surveyor Stefano Campedelli and his wife Nicoletta in 1986. They spent many years upgrading the vineyards – now totalling 22 ha (54 acres). With Stefano’s brother Marco, they finally launched the Marion label, presumably inspired by the most famous owner of the villa, Conte Marioni, by releasing the 1995 vintage.

Since then they have continued to refine their wines and, having tasted the 2019 and 2020 vintages of the Valpolicella Borgo recently, I’d say they have made them increasingly fresh and appetising, but very obviously a true, careful blend of 40% each of Corvina Grossa and Corvina Gentile together with 20% Rondinella grapes grown with real precision and picked in the first half of September. These unoaked wines, given a year's ageing in tank, are also usefully low in alcohol.

I first came across Marion's wines when introduced to them by Zubair Mohamed of Raeburn Fine Wines in Edinburgh, who continue to import them (and the wines of Dal Forno). In the UK they are also listed by both Berry Bros & Rudd and, now, Bancroft Wines. It was courtesy of Bancroft that I was able to taste these two vintages and I share my tasting notes below.

Marion, Borgo 2019 Valpolicella 12.5%
Very transparent ruby. Pure, funky nose and then extremely pure, correct, healthy fruit a world away from supermarket Valpolicella. Bravissimo! Not too tannic at all. One of those reds you could happily drink without food. Persistent health juice. VGV (very good value) 16.5 Drink 2021–25

Marion, Borgo 2020 Valpolicella 12.5%
Full bottle just 1,164 g. (Tasted at home so I was able to weigh the bottle, in line with our policy designed to praise those who user lighter bottles and highlight those who persist with unnecessarily heavy ones.)
Notably pale, transparent. Light, bitter-cherry nose with floral notes. Delicate, fruity wine that truly expresses Valpolicella as a lively drink, suitable for enjoying without food, or I could easily imagine it with a wide range of pasta dishes, though probably not something as powerfully flavoured as spaghetti alla puttanesca. Light bite on the end. A bit lighter-bodied than the 2019 initially but over a day or two it really gained body and interest. 16.5 Drink 2022–25

Marion Borgo Valpolicella

The 2019 is available from Bancroft Wines in the UK at £19.49, Bayway World of Liquor in New Jersey and also in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. The 2020 is also available from Bancroft at the same price, from Berry Bros & Rudd at £17.95, and also in Italy, Austria, Canada and, quite widely, Australia, where light reds and Italian grape varieties are all the rage.

See all our coverage of the wines of the Veneto.