The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Ca dei Mandorli and Paolo Bea

Posted on | February 3, 2016 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

CamachoWith Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’ve been focusing on wines to pour at the end of that special romantic meal. I wanted to showcase two different wines that will lend to a sweet ending to a great meal—and perhaps something more. While the origin of Valentine’s Day remains up for debate, today, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are the custom. This is mostly due to chocolate having a reputation for having aphrodisiac qualities and the genius marketing of the chocolate industry. In the mid-1800s, Cadbury began producing chocolate boxes with popular sentimental images as well as red heart-shaped boxes and the rest has been history. Today’s wines will help you and your beloved enjoy those chocolates in style!

Ca dei Mandorli 2014 Brachetto d’Acqui $22.00

Brachetto d’Acqui is a red DOCG wine named for the Brachetto grape, a variety that is native to Piedmont and the Acqui district in southern Piedmont. It has a long history often mentioned in Italian theater, and legend also tells that Julius Caesar and Marc Antony gave this wine to Cleopatra. Bursting with a floral nose full of rose and violets followed by raspberry, cherry and strawberries, this wine is bright and almost refreshing with a slight fizz to get you in the romantic mood. The palate is pleasant not overly sweet with a good acidity in the background and an elegant, fizzy finish. The combination of a moderate degree of alcohol along with the fresh, fruity, floral aromas and slight carbonation make for a wine that is perfect with chocolate and fresh strawberries.

Paolo Bea 2008 Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito $94.99

There are two things that make this wine special for Valentine’s Day. The first is that it is from Umbria, the putative home of St Valentine himself, and the second is that this Sagrantino wine is made in a passito style, which consist of harvesting the grapes late in the season and then drying them out on straw mats until 40% of the moisture has evaporated. As the grapes dry and almost become raisins, they concentrate their sugars and flavors. The semi-dried grapes are then gently pressed and the juice fermented until it reaches the desired level of sweetness and alcohol the producer wants making a wine that is intense, aromatic, and rich. I love to pair this wine with chocolates or enjoy it with a nice aged cheese. Deep, dense, thick, ruby red, this wine’s nose is Port-like with hints of cedar wood mingled with loads of black fruit, blackberry and plum, opening up to some lovely chocolate and slight smoky herbal notes. The palate is sweet and almost savory at the same time with a freshness that leads to a decadent finish that you wish would never end. Drink now to 2023.

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