Pieropan – La Rocca
If you’re thinking mass-produced, characterless Soave from the 1980s and 1990s when the global market was flooded with cheap wine more similar in style to a Pinot Grigio in lightness and taste, then you had better think again. Made from 100% Garganega grapes and grown on the steep slopes adjacent to the medieval castle in the town of Soave, this is a serious, golden-coloured Veneto wine with notes of exotic fruits and nuts on the nose, hints of spice and long, soft and persistent on the palate. Capable of holding its own against strong flavours and complex dishes, it sits beautifully with creamy porcini risottos and soft, textured seafood such as salmon, salt cod and scallops.
For more information and to buy: Majestic.co.uk
Allegrini – La Grola
One of my very favourite Veneto wines, it is a blend of one of the three classical components of Valpolicella, Corvina (the other two being Molinara and Rondinella) and 10% Oseleta. Grown on the hill of La Grola and benefitting from some wonderfully ideal conditions including the orientation of the sun and the breeze coming off the great Lake Garda, its dark, brooding intensity has aromas of wild berries, juniper, coffee and tobacco on the nose with layers of intense black fruits, savoury notes and hints of spice. Aged in oak barrels for 16 months it is then blended for 2 before being bottled for 10 months prior to release. A real show-stopper, it is the perfect accompaniment to red meat with rich, dark sauces as well as mushroom dishes and mild, aged cheeses.
For more information and to buy: Laithwaites.co.uk
Serego Alighieri – Possessioni Rosso
These wines are crafted on the estates owned by the direct descendants of Dante, whose son Pietro bought them in the mid 14th Century and began the vilification process. Now made with a helping hand from the great Masi producers run by the Boscaini family, the wines are elegant and noble in taste – just what you would expect from such aristocratic heritage. Possessioni Rosso is a full-bodied, fruity wine with hints of spice and is a blend of Corvina, Molinara and Sangiovese, the grape which makes Brunelli so irresistible. With cherries, sweet plums and cinnamon on the nose, the palate is well-structured, full-bodied with good balance and a long finish with hints of vanilla.
A very versatile wine which marries well with red meats and moderately aged cheeses, we were drinking the 2011 out at Villa Casagrande last year and it was truly singing. An absolute delight.
For more information and to buy: Uvinum.co.uk
Bisol – Jeio Prosecco Valdobiaddene
We love Bisol, the family, the wines, the properties and the constant drive not only to make their products the best, but to ensure that the entire region of Venice and the Veneto benefits from the outstanding produce it grows. Someone from the Bisol Estate, usually the dark, tall and handsome Valentino who has recently gone undercover behind some substantial facial hair, comes up to Villa Casagrande to take our guests on an unforgettable journey through their stunning range of sparkling wines. The journey accentuates just how different every wine can be, but I can’t help reverting to their Jeio – one of the entry level Proseccos if one had to go by price, but one which delivers everything I want from my glass. Dry, with notes of pear and apple blossom, it’s delicate, refreshing and sparkling. Perfetto!
For more information and to buy: Thedrinkshop.com
Masi – Campofiorin
What can we say about this wine? Little, I imagine, which hasn’t already been said but we can come at it from a very personal perspective. Made from the classic Valpolicella combination of Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes, it is given added
depth and complexity through being passed over the Amarone grapes in the Ripasso style of the region. A stalwart since 1964 when it first went into production, it is versatile, mouth-filling, heart-warming, deep, smooth, spicy and complex, as well as
being fresh and approachable and easy to consume on any occasion. In short, it is a wonderful wine well deserving of its huge, international success, and always a winner on our course at Casagrande. Try with spatchcock quail roasted over an open fire with onion, raisin and balsamic vinegar marinade. We do, and it’s delicious!
For more information and to buy: Waitrosecellar.com