It’s cold in NYC today—28 degrees—and it’s expecting to drop to 18 tonight. I’ve always said that for me one of the best wines to have on a cold evening with a nice hearty meal is a good Amarone or Valpolicella. The wine’s richness and fullness along with a lengthy finish is perfect, given to making you sit back in contemplation during or, more likely, after the meal.
The other day I had a bottle of Begali Amarone della Valpolicella 2007. I was very surprised because this was a bottle that I brought home after a tasting. The bottle had been open and it was about half full. I set it aside and was planning to drink it the next day, knowing that it was going to be a cold week. I actually did not get around to it until two days later. I was surprised when I tasted it; I was expecting it to have gone flat or maybe stale. I was wrong. It was wonderful and had completely mellowed out. This is a great quality and value Amarone at an affordable price, as far as Amarone goes.
This recent stretch of cold weather reminded me of the enjoyment that I had with the Begali Amarone, and since my wife and I were making a hearty meal to go along with the cold evening, we reached into our wine fridge and pulled out a bottle of Venturini Massimino Valpolicella Ripasso Semonte Alto. This is a single-vineyard Valpolicella that is the result of combining grapes coming from a cru named “Semonte Alto,” which is located in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico region. Semonte produces a full-bodied red wine, with a rich, concentrated flavor and an intense and distinctive nose. This bottling uses the “ripasso” technique that consists in a second fermentation of the wine on the slightly sweet lees of the grapes used to make the Amarone. After the Ripasso the wine is transferred into Slovenian oak barriques where it ages for 12 months. And then an additional period of refinement in bottle for about 6 months to fully develops its amazing characteristics.
It too was delicious, a wonderful bottle to warm up with on a cold winter’s evening.