Verona and the famed Valpolicella

Everyone knows of Verona as the home of Romeo and Juliet; the next time you read the bard, remember Verona is also home to some of the finest Valpolicella wines, says Suneeta Sodhi Kanga. Valpolicella, the “Pearl of Verona” or “The Valley of Cellars”, is a hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region famous for wine production. From Roman times, its hillsides have been known for the production of excellent wine.

Valpolicella cradles some of the finest wineries in Italy now well known for several different varietals including Amarone, the first attempt to make wine with dried grapes to increase the wine’s aging potential. A loft is used for the ‘appassimento’ – the drying of grapes and from these grapes Amarone is created, which in Italian means very bitter.
Bertani, one of the prestigious wine producers from the region, is headquartered at the palatial neo-classical Villa Novare. While the house has a splendid bouquet of dry, sweet and blended varieties, the Bertani Amarone is justly celebrated as a standard bearer for its category. The introduction of the Secco-Bertani Valpantena brand, still in production over 150 years later, is responsible for putting this house on the wine-making map of the world.
I had the privilege of attending a delectable dinner created by Chef Allesandro Persico and co hosted by Gian Matteo Baldi, commercial director, worldwide, from the House of Bertani, and Farhad Bhabha from Berkmann Wine Cellars India Pvt. Ltd., at the Grand Hyatt, Kalina, Mumbai in the last week of November 09. Berkmann Wines, the distributor has already introduced some of the wines from Bertani’s portfolio to the Indian market and is looking to bring in more.
With a menu that wooed your taste buds we started with the chicken liver paté that was perfectly matched with the Soave Classico 2008. This Soave from the House of Bertani is an elegant crispy and intense wine.
A deliciously peppered tuna was offered next with the Secco Valpantena 2006, created with the Rondinella and Corvina grapes. This deep garnet coloured wine goes through a second fermentation called ‘ripasso’ after which it ages in oak barrels for 24 months. It is a wine that is both drinkable and complex, enhancing the convivial pleasure of the dinner table.
Next was offered a delicate arugula, goat cheese and pear salad, served with the Due Uve Rosso 2009. Made with Pinot Nero and Corvina grapes this deep red ruby wine has an intense aroma of fresh red pulp fruit, cherry, sour black cherry and redcurrant, together with flavours of dried fruits and vanilla. The Pinot Noir gives a nose of raspberries and strawberries, while the Corvina provides a taste of cherry and plum. A wine of great personality and style.
A thyme and lemon sorbet lead on to a main course of either the veal and bone marrow stew with risotto or charcoal grilled chicken. The Due Uve Bianco 2007 and the Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2000 were served with the entrées. Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc have been used in the Due Uve Bianco. The concept of the wines known as Due Uve (Two Grapes), is the result of a judicious and harmonious combination of two grape varieties, chosen and blended in order to bring out the best in each other. Due Uve White combines the body and the elegance of Pinot Grigio with the aromatic notes typical of Sauvignon Blanc.
With the cheese platter came the crowning glory – Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC 1998. The Amarone Classico Bertani is a timeless wine, in the unique style, a style that is classic, yet always up-to-date and therefore never needs to change. It is made from the Corvina and Rondinella grapes that grow on the slopes around Villa Novare in the Valpolicella Classica area. Produced by Bertani since as long ago as 1958, Amarone Classico Bertani is a perfect example of total harmony between time, nature and man. The natural appassimento (semi drying process) of the grapes on the aréle (cane mats) and the ageing in large casks for no less than six years give this wine a stable and long-lasting structure, making it one of the longest-living wines in the world. Shall we say God made dry grapes so that man could have the Amarone?
The romance of the evening culminated with a tiramisu that completed the tango on your palate with a flourish and graceful bow simultaneously.
Verona has been named a world heritage site by UNESCO. The Bertani wines, are an amazing addition to these honours and bring together the charm of the old world classics and the vibrancy of the new world vintages to make that perfectly desired experience desired by all – satisfaction!

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