We’re at the start of summer and the grills are fired up,
time is being shared with friends including good food and of course good
wine. Our Italian Food, Wine &
Travel group this month is featuring summer Italian red and white wines. Most
folks gravitate towards whites in the hot summer days, but there are reds as
well to be enjoyed and of course don’t forgot rose’ or sparkling wines. And it’s the perfect time for suggestions
with the 4th of July upon us with plenty of festivities all around.
My recent trip to Peschiera del Garda. Perfect wine sipping weather!
Here is a preview into what our group will be sharing with
you this Saturday July 1st. You can chat
with us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT. We look forward to seeing you then!
Gwendolyn of Art Predator will be sharing "Our New Favorite Summer Italian Wine: Lambrusco!"
Last week I took a trip back to Italy
as I received an invitation from the Pasqua winery to go and visit
the winery and their vineyards and taste some of the wines that they
produce. It was a wonderful trip and myself along with two other
international folks in the wine industry were warmly welcomed and
treated very well.
The Pasqua winery is located in the
Veneto region of northeastern Italy within the winemaking area of the Valpolicella. Their
winery is specifically located in the Valpantena, one of the top
winemaking areas of the Valpolicella. The winery started over 90
years ago and just recently celebrated their 90th anniversary in
Our trip started off with a guided
tour of the Giardino Giusti, the serene and peaceful renaissance
gardens located over the Adige River in Verona. The gardens reminded
me very much of the Boboli Gardens of Florence, but on a smaller
scale. The Giusti family actually originated from Florence.
We proceeded to the Torre dei
Lamberti in Piazza Dante after a quick aperol spritz, where we met Pasqua's PR and marketing
person, Sara Biasi, who greeted us and kicked us off at a private
tasting at the top of the tower. The tower was privately reserved
for us as we made our way to the top with views overlooking all of
Verona and even Lake Garda in the far distance. We started the
evening enjoying a glass or two of the Pasqua Prosecco before
proceeding to our dinner in at Cafe' Dante.
Torre dei Lamberti
Views from the top
A beautiful night to sit
outside in the piazza and we were graciously joined by the owner and
President of the Pasqua winery, Umberto Pasqua. A very down to
earth and personable gentleman. We sampled a number of the Pasqua
wines including their prosecco, 11 minutes rose', Passione Sentimento Bianco and Rosso. The last pairing was my favorite as we paired the
Sentimento Passione Rosso with risotto all'amarone drizzled with
monte veronese cheese of the area.
President, Umberto Pasqua
Our next day was lovely as we started
off visiting Pasqua's top vineyard site, Monte Vegro, located in the town of Ilasi in the Valpolicella. This winery was
named Monte Vegro (monte=mountain and vegro=unattainable) due to the
fact that many folks said that grapes couldn't be grown there. So
the wines of this area are called Mai Dire Mai meaning “never say
Monte Vegro vineyards
The vineyards that day
were loaded with sunshine on our visit as a single tractor traveled
through the vines. Set high up on the hills with many south facing slopes the soil there was comprised with layers of limestone. There is such a peacefulness I find when visiting
vineyards and it's the perfect way to understand how the wines are
developed as it all starts there.
Limestone @ Monte Vegro
The vines reside on 26 hectacres
and since land is so limited in the Valpolicella with maybe 1
hectacre changing hands every year it results in the price of the land
to be rather expensive. It was mentioned by one of the guests/sommelier
that the land costs about half a million a hectacre, but I don't have facts to back that up.
Next, we made our way to the Pasqua winery,
which is very deceiving from the outside, but quite the operation
with floors upon floors inside. I have to be honest that I have seen
the label Pasqua wines before, but don't believe I had yet to try
them. Even though the majority of their wines seem to be more bulk wine
that either they grow or purchase the juice from other areas of Italy
including Sicily, Tuscany and Puglia, the wines that we were
fortunate to sample I found to be very enjoyable.
Upon arrival we were immediately introduced to the
winemaker Giovanni Nordera, whom is actually a cousin of the family.
He has been winemaker at the Pasqua winery for over 10 years and at
the impressive age of only 38 years old. He had traveled to many
wine regions of the world including Chile, South Africa and France
working in the industry before he eventually ended up at the Pasqua
winery. Giovanni walked us through all the wines you'll find listed
Giovanni Nordera, winemaker
The winery produces about 14-15
million bottles a year. We toured the factory with Giovanni after
our tasting and he walked us through the lab and the bottling operation where
they typically bottle about 60,000 bottles a day. I always find those
machines to be quite fascinating to watch. We walked through where the stainless steel tanks are kept where their largest tanks hold
about 200,000 liters, which is mostly their pinot grigio as they
produce about 3 million bottles of this wine. On our tour we were introduced to quite a unique room that was created for the launch of Pasqua's new rose' released this year called 11 Minutes. Yes, those are hundreds of bottles hanging in a room surrounded by mirrors. Pretty cool, huh?!
Room of Pasqua's 11 Minutes Rose'
After the tour Giovanni even walked us through making our own wine including blending, bottling, labeling and corking. We finished lastly in
the wine cellar where a dinner was being prepared for us directly
amongst all the barrels.
An absolutely lovely time over the 2
days and I'll share with you a couple of the towns I visited after on upcoming blogs sharing some of the wines typically produced in those
areas so stay tuned.
Below is the list of wines we tried over the couple days and there truly wasn't one that I didn't enjoy, some more than others. My favorites during my visit were the Pasqua Passione Sentimento Bianco, Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella Superiore and the Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella. You'll see my notes on these particular favorites, but I'm happy to share others if there is interest. Shoot me a message.
Made of 100% garganega these grapes go through the appasimento process, drying the grapes out on trays for 1 month in the fruitaio. This wine had good structure with aromatics of stone fruit and citrus. On the palate it was dry and a nice balance of fruit and refreshing acidity leaving a round mouthfeel and lingering finish. ABV 13% SRP $14
2015 Pasqua Passione Sentimento Rosso IGT 2012 Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2012 Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella Superiore DOC
Produced with 50% corvina, 30% corvinone, 10% rondinella and 10% oseleta (a reinvigorated grape once facing extinction). Aromas of ripe, rich dried red fruits. A more traditional style of Valpolicella Superiore with lots of complexity including dried cherries, spice and bright acid. Aged in tonneaux and barriques for 18 months. This wine was drinking well, but can still withstand some aging. Only 4,000 bottles produced. ABV 15% SRP $35
Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
Produced with 65% corvina, 15% corvinone, 10% rondinella and 10% oseleta. Displaying on the nose sweet, dried fruits. A structured, concentrated wine loaded with rich, dark fruits showing hints of mint and toasty characteristics. Aged 100% in new oak and barriques for 24 months. This wine still needs some more time in the bottle. ABV 16.5% SRP $150
2006 Pasqua 90th anniversary Amarone della
Today is Italian sweet wine day with our
Italian Food, Wine & Travel group. I've written about a number
of different sweeter style wines on Vino Travels. I am one that has
a sweet tooth and enjoys a nice dessert wine. I'm veering off from
the typical moscato d'asti and brachetto d'acqui in the north and
taking you an island off the coast of Sicily for some passito di
I believe I've only ever had 1 passito
di pantelleria and it was the delicious Ben
Rye from Donnafugata. I've written about passito
di pantelleria in the past so you can reference all about it from
my previous blog post. To summarize, these wines are produced from
the moscato grapes, here it's known as zibibbo. Elsewhere this grape
is known as Moscato di Alexandria. The weather is intense here so
the grapes ripen rather well. To produce passito the grapes are
harvested at night in cooler temperatures, but then left to dry to
concencrate the sugars more.
For all you Trader Joe's wine lovers I
have to admit this was the first time I actually tried a wine from
Trader Joe's. The store I frequent doesn't sell wine and the other
closest store is about 40 minutes away, but one day I was in the area
and stopped in to check out their wine selection I've heard a lot
about. I was excited to find a passito di Pantelleria from Ipsus and
immediately made the purchase. I'm always one for wines that I can't
find as easily. This 2014 Ipsus Passito di Pantelleria wine was
amber in color. With an aromatic nose this wine is rich in flavors
of orange zest, apricots and honey. I would suggest to try pairing
it with a fresh fruit tart or even some crème brulee. SRP $10.99
A delightful and delicious wine at a
great price. So when you find yourself craving a little dessert
after your meal it's an affordable option to check out.
Here are more Italian sweet wines for
you to enjoy. If you catch us in time join us live on Twitter
Saturday June 3rd at 11am EST @ #ItalianFWT.