Today’s cellar note has us sipping a wine made in Valpolicella, north of Verona, near Lake Garda in northern Italy. Amarone della Valpolicella is a wine with ample body, intense flavors and a warming finish. It is just what you want to sip on a rainy, cold winter’s evening. We received this wine as a tasting sample.
Valpollicella is located about midway between Milan and Venice. Lake Garda lies to the west and the city of Verona lies just to the south. The region is a relatively cool one, yet Amarone della Valpolicella has many characteristics of a warm-climate red wine. How is this so?
The difference begins in the vineyards, where the grapes are left to ripen on the vine after the regular harvest to achieve additional ripeness. Then the best clusters are hand-harvested and spread on bamboo mats, drying trays or hung in the air to dry, indoors, for up to four months.
During this drying period the grapes lose one-third or more of their weight and shrivel like raisins leaving individual berries with less water and more sugar. The 25 to 30-day alcoholic fermentation proceeds (in the case of this wine) in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Continuous pump-overs extract tannins and color.
This wine completed malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels where it aged for a further 18 to 20 months. After bottling the wine went through an additional four months of aging before release.
As you might imagine drying the grapes can require as much as twice the amount of grapes is usually takes to make a bottle of wine. This, along with all of the hand-work involved in picking and drying the grapes, contributes to the higher price of a bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella.
In exchange for all that time and effort expect a wine with intense flavors, lots of body and an alcohol level of 15% or higher.
The history of the Pasqua family in Verona begins in 1925 when the first Pasqua brothers came to the region from Apulia (Puglia). The brothers began as wine merchants for the wines of Apulia before establishing themselves as winemakers in the region with the purchase of vineyards in the Verona area.
Today, the third generation of the family lead a winery with representation in over 50 countries around the world.
Pasqua ‘Famiglia Pasqua’ Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Veneto — medium garnet in the glass with translucence at the rim. Generous aromas of asphalt, crushed flower stems and dried currants. Intense flavors of red berries, blackberry pie, baking spices and asphalt gain complexity with a long, core flavor of slate-like minerality. Tannins are smooth and last through the medium-length finish. This wine is medium-bodied, and then some, with juicy acidity and a warming finish. 15% abv. SRP $50
This lovely, concentrated wine grabbed my attention immediately. The aromas drew me in and then the first sip set me on a long course of identifying its complex flavors. Yes, it finishes with a bit of heat, but it isn’t hot or out of balance. It’s complex, warming and inviting.
The blend of this wine is 65% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Corvinone, 5% Negrara. Vineyards are located on the hills of Valpantena, in the area north-east of Verona.
The ‘Famiglia Pasqua’ Amarone della Valpolicella is the perfect wine to accompany beef or lamb roasts and stews. It was also a delicious partner for a hearty chicken cacciatore. And don’t let the $50 price scare you off. You will likely be able to find in for $30 to $35.
Thanks to the ladies at Creative Palate Communications for warming up our winter evenings!