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No globe-hopping today

Last week we travelled from Europe to America.

We also visited the Southern Hemisphere, as we discussed pinot noir. But today we settle in the Veneto region of Italy and stay there. The reason for this is that some of their red wines are so suitable for hot weather enjoyment.

Although this area is not quite as large as Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily and a few more, it produces more wine than any of them and its importance is growing.

We start by visiting the Pasqua family that was one of the first to be represented by Burrows Lightbourn; I have memories of a visit by them when I was employed by the company back in the 1970s.

I was so happy to see them all doing well during my last trip to Italy a few years ago, and that the younger members of this family were carrying on the tradition of making wine.

Considering the duty and shipping costs it is not an easy task to find pleasant wines that sell for less than $20, but here for $16.40 we offer you a bottle of 2019 Pasqua Bardolino Classico Villa Borghetti that comes from vineyards located on the beautiful south-eastern shore of Lake Garda.

The colour is lively ruby; fresh on the palate with delicious fruity aromas reminiscent of cherries and currants and soft tannins. The cherry, raspberry and slightly spicy character make for a fine pairing with pork ribs. Half an hour in the fridge will assure a good wine temperature. (Stock #8841)

Another staple of this winery is 2019 Pasqua Valpolicella Classico Villa Borghetti and, at $19.85, it is an additional example of their ability to create very reasonably priced, but good wines. This one is a blend of 70 per cent corvina, 20 per cent rondinella and 10 per cent molinara grapes that together give us baked cherry and plum flavours. (Stock #8929)

Masi are “the” amarone people with roots going back to a time when the son of Dante purchased a vineyard. Our 2019 Masi Valpolicella Classico Bonacosta reminds me of a description of valpolicella attributed to Ernest Hemingway who called it “a light dry red wine, as friendly as the home of a favourite brother”.

Medium intensity, cherry red. Intense bouquet with ripe cherry aromas and fresh with good acidity, soft and silky tannins. Cherries are the dominant flavour, with hints of vanilla. $24.70 (Stock #9180)

Now we take a step up the ladder and, using the same grapes, we have 2017 Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese IGT that is full-bodied, smooth, and velvety, but approachable and versatile in its food pairings. It combines simplicity with style, strength, and majesty. This is the original ‘Super Venetian’ – created by Masi in 1964 and internationally recognised as a wine of “stupendous body and complexity” – the prototype for a new category of wines from the Veneto inspired by the amarone production method.

The Boscaini family have owned and run Masi for six generations and are one of Veneto's most established producers. This wine is made by fermenting fresh grapes, then re-fermenting the wine along with some partially dried grapes, to create rich and complex flavours. Dark ruby red with subtle violet tinges. Aromas are predominantly of ripe cherries, with nuances of vanilla and cinnamon. Rich and mouth-filling, with soft tannins and a velvety, savoury finish. Drink with a selection of matured cheeses, black olives and Parma ham.

I like to think of it as a “baby amarone”. One taster thought that it was light enough to be thought of as “an Italian pinot noir” and that is why I am writing about these wines at the onset of our summer season. $25.60 (Stock #9174)

Our 2017 Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore also hails from a winery that creates great amarone, and Zenato’s “baby” is bigger than most. Ruby red in colour, this valpolicella superiore offers fleshy aromas of wild berries, black currants, black cherries, and spices, with hints of chocolate. On the palate, the wine is dry and robust with velvety texture. Pair this wine with antipasti, arrabbiata sauces, seared sashimi tuna or orange-glazed duck. It also goes well with pasta with different sauces and white meat, roasted or grilled.

Critic James Suckling feels that it is worthy of a 92/100 score. “Aromas of black olives, black cherries and some smoky, herbal notes, too. It’s full-bodied with excellent flavour intensity and smooth, integrated tannins. Savoury finish. Drink or hold.”.

Wine Spectator rates it 90/100 and says: “A hint of toasty smoke is layered with flavours of black cherry, dried fig and Mediterranean herbs in this round, light- to medium-bodied red, with light, silky tannins. Drink now through 2025.” $31 (Stock #8862)

All this reference to amarone – this is not the day to discuss one of the world’s most rich and scrumptious wines but I cannot help myself. I have just decided to squeeze in this about 2015 Masi Costasera Amarone as it shows what Veneto can do with the same grapes used in valpolicella. This deep ruby-red wine has powerful, complex aromas of dried plums and balsamic (anise, fennel, mint) traces. Quite dry on the palate, soft and with bright acidity, the wine shows flavours of baked cherry, chocolate and cinnamon. Structured but noble, delicate tannins precede a long finish and this all shows what drying the grapes on straw mats for three months before pressing can do.

James Suckling rates this 95/100 and comments: “This opens beautifully to reveal violets, blueberries, liquorice, citrus, oyster shell and orange rind. So velvety and polished, but with real depth and structure. Medium- to full-bodied with delightful fruit and a long finish.” $63 (Stock #9170)

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

The Veneto region of Italy is not quite as large as Piedmont, Tuscany or Sicily but produces more wine than any of them

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Published July 02, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated June 29, 2021 at 9:32 pm)

No globe-hopping today

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