Story by Manos Angelakis
Photos courtesy of the winery
Currently there is a reappearance of high quality Valpolicella wines in the US market, mostly as Valpolicella Superiore for the less expensive bottles and Amarone for the higher priced ones. Its numerous iterations -- Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Valpolicella Ripasso, Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto della Valpolicella – are all produced in the Western Veneto.
Unfortunately, in the 60s and 70s the Valpolicella that was imported in the US at that time had a bad reputation because the wines were mostly very thin, stylistically viewed as Italy’s answer to inexpensive Beaujolais; Valpolicella had suffered as a result of ever-increasing yields and very inconsistent quality.
Nowadays, Amarone della Valpolicella is an exceptional wine made in the viticultural region of Verona. Verona is a jewel of a city due west of Venice and known as the setting of William Shakespeare's first play “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and one of his greatest plays “Romeo & Juliet”. Outside of Verona and heading northwest towards Lake Garda, you’ll see the rolling hills of the Valpolicella region where, in my opinion, one of the best Italian wines, Amarone is made from four grape varieties: Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara. However, as a result of when the grapes are picked and what is done after harvesting, the finished regional wines can be startlingly different.
I was invited with a few other journalists to meet brothers Alessandro and Riccardo Pasqua for lunch in New York City to sample five of their Valpolicella wines with food, the way wines should be drunk.
Romeo & Juliet Passione & Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT 2017
Romeo & Juliet Passione & Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT 2016
Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013
Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella DOC 2013
Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2011
The Amarones are created in the traditional Appassimento method i.e. following the manual harvest, the grapes are laid on straw mats in well ventilated rooms (to avoid mold) and are left there for a few weeks up to several months to concentrate the sugars and flavors until they lose almost 40% of their harvest weight. That procedure also results in wines of higher alcoholic content.
The Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 is a very enjoyable bottle, best drunk accompanying grilled prime meats or game. I rate it at 90/100 points. It has leather and tobacco on the palate and dried fruit on the finish. It was excellent at lunch with a charcoal-grilled double lamb chop.
The Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2011 is an opulent wine of great structure, power and finesse. It amazed me with intense aromas of sour cherry, dry forest fruit, blackberry and cedar with hints of cocoa, Lapsang Souchong tea, cloves, and some leather. I was surprised at the alcohol content but was told there was no fortification... with global warming I believe there are excellent wines now available at above 15% ABV. I would rate this bottle at 94/100 points and, drunk accompanying the proper food, I would consider it one of the better Amarones now available to the US market.
The Romeo & Juliet line has very good wines to accompany lunch or dinner.
In addition to the Romeo & Juliet wines tasted with the meal, two sample bottles (one white; one red) were also shipped to me and I’ve enjoyed them, the white with an ample lunch of Linguini Alfredo; the red with dinner of an Angus Prime Steak, grilled black & blue.
The white has no pretensions and it is priced right. I would recommend it, as it has iintense aromas of citrus fruits, almond and peaches on the nose, followed by a palate which is refreshing and well balanced. The red is a baby Valpolicella, also well priced. It is less fruity than some other Valpolicellas I have recently tasted, but still has the proper characteristics without losing much body. Both are well done.
To your health!
© February 2019 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.