A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 432: Valpolicella Galore

Monday, February 11: More time to work on Nightmare in Napa. I get lost in it and forget the time, knowing I should get up from the computer every hour or so to walk around and stretch my legs. The only thing that takes me away from it is Pinot the Wonderdog, who comes up to my chair and puts her paws on my back to tell me it’s time to take her out.

Dinner his evening at Buonanotte, a new restaurant on Mercer Street, with Luca Bissoli, the Sales Director of Cantina Negrar, a co-operative in Valpolicella with 230 members. Luca told our table of wine writers that the Cantina was founded in 1933 and claims to be the first to make an Amarone (in 1939). At that time the style was for Recioto but the cellarmaster Adolino Lucchese mistakenly left a barrel without stabilising it and the wine fermented to dryness. The Cantina produces 70% of Valpolicella Classico and has been present in the Canadian market for over 50 years.

  • Negrar Valpolicella 2011: ruby colour; fresh and lively sour cherry flavour; light on the palate. (86)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2011: deep ruby colour; cherry nose; good intensity of flavour; pure, firm, easy drinking, dry with a good mouth feel. (88)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso La Roselle 2011: deep ruby colour; creamy cherry nose with an oak note; sweet black cherry fruit, well extracted with a firm finish. (89)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Valpolicella Vigneti di Torbe Ripasso 2011: deep ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose; sweet fruit with a lively spine of acidity. (88)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti La Casetta Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2010: dense ruby colour; cherry nose; rich and sweet, firmly structured but smooth on the palate; full-bodied and powerful. (89)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Amarone 2009: deep ruby colour; cherry and chestnut skin nose; rich and full on the palate, chunky mouth feel; rich cherry liqueur flavour with a warm alcoholic finish. (89)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Verjago Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2008: deep ruby colour; cherry, tobacco and vanilla oak nose; rich and psicy, full-bodied, fruity with a chunky, fleshy mouth feel. Still youthful. (90)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Amarone Vigneti di Jago 2005: dense purple-ruby colour; plum, raisins, porty nose (16.5% alcohol); flavours of plum and raisins, sweet and full in the mouth with a herbal, savoury finish. Needs time. (89+)
  • Negrar Domìni Veneti Recioto Vigneti di Moron 2009: unfortunate name – dense purple colour; a nose of rose petals, plums and raisins; sweet, rich and grapey with a firm finish. (90)

Tuesday, February 12: Lunch at Grano with Mark Finkelstein and Mike Koff of the Canadian Southern African Network to discuss the possibility of a joint fund-raiser with Grapes for Humanity, based on a tasting of fine South African wines.

Dinner: grilled salmon with a bottle of Tesch Krone Riesling 2008 from the Nahe (bright straw colour; lively lime and pineapple nose; medium-bodied, crisp apple, pineapple and citrus flavours (89). Coming to Vintages on March 16th at $18.95).

Wednesday, February 13: My son Guy’s birthday today. Wrote my On the Go wine column and worked some more on the novel. Deborah and I took Guy to Mistura for dinner. I brought along my last bottle of Louis Jadot Clos de Vougeot 1985, as Guy is a great Pinot Noir lover. It was spectacular. We started with a glass of Norman Hardie Riesling 2011. I ordered tagliatelle with quail sauce, followed by lamb loin. Chef Massimo made a special dessert plate for us, on the house.

Jadot Clos Vougeot 1985
Jadot Clos Vougeot 1985

Chef Massimo's birthday 'cake' for Guy
Chef Massimo’s birthday “cake” for Guy

Thursday, February 14: Valentine’s Day. Deborah and I aren’t big on Valentine’s Day. I got her a card and that was it. She returned the favour later in the day, having obviously forgotten to get one for me. So much for our honouring this highly dubious Hallmark holiday. A tasting of some 50 wines with David Lawrason at Doug Towers’ house for www.winerytohome.

Friday, February 15: Spent the whole day writing. What a pleasure to have the time to do so. A dinner of grilled lamb chops with Piazzano Rio Camerata Chianti Riserva 2006 (purple-ruby colour; earthy, cherry and leather nose; medium-bodied, dry and savoury with a cherry flavour, a herbal note and supple tannins (88)). Then with the cheese, Huff Estates South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 (this wine is consistently one of my favourite Chardonnays from Prince Edward County – light straw with a greenish tint; spicy, green pineapple and green apple bouquet with a lift of oak; elegant, dry, well integrated with a crisp, lemony finish (90)).

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