Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Little Turbo-Charge With Your Wine?

1483.  2008 Pasqua Villa Borghetti Passimento (Veneto IGT - Italy)

Whether you want to call this a "Baby Amarone" - or "essentially a turbo-charged Valpolicella" like Toronto wine scribe, Beppi Crosariol,  did - you can call me a turbo-charged fan. Both intense and soft at the same time, this baby could easily be taken for a poor man's Amarone. Clocking in, at the local government liquor stores, at a completely reasonable $16, this is a veritable bargain in our over-taxed market.

The Villa Borghetti brand is a second amongst many for Pasqua. Like the signature Famiglia Pasqua wines, Villa Borghetti concentrates on the production of "traditional Veronese wines: Soave, Valpolicella, Amarone." The wine is named after the "appassimento" process that partially dries out the grapes before pressing. These Passimento grapes, however, are only left to dry for a month - instead of the four months that Amarone grapes see. This time is still long enough for the grapes to lose about a third of their water content, thereby helping intensify the sugars and flavours.

Another major difference from the traditional Amarone production method is that this Passimento sees a healthy portion (around 40%) of Merlot added to Corvina and Croatina grapes. The latter two grapes are more classically known in the Veneto region and to Amarone wines. It is this addition of Merlot grapes that helps explain why the wine has an IGT designation instead of the more sanctioned D.O.C. label. In this case - much like with the old SuperTuscans that were deemed IGT as well - I'm all for the new twist because it's certainly working for my palate.

Considering how many Italian-inspired dishes hit our dining room table and how we can't justify pouring an Amarone with them on a regular basis, this Passimento may just become a new regular. Works for me.

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