“I’d like to make Pasqua the ‘Ambassador of ‘Italian Cool’, the coolest, most disruptive winemaker in Italy, with wineries located in all the iconic areas of the country.” ∼ Riccardo Pasqua
Verona is best known as home of Romeo and Juliet. In Verona you find the famous home of Juliet on Cappello Street. Every day thousands of tourist visit Juliet’s house and leave love letters. The famous love story of Romeo and Juliet is the inspiration for Pasqua’s Passione Sentimento line of wines. The romantic labels are adorned with love letters similar to those found on the walls of Juliet’s home.
Three generations of the Pasqua family have been making wines in Northern Italy, right outside of Verona in Valpolicella. The family owned winery has been making wine since 1925, producing quality wines with the “appassimento” technique. Pasqua makes wines of exceptional texture and taste. Over the years, the Pasqua family has been making investments in technology and innovation and is one the premier winemaker in the Valpolicella region. Today Riccardo and Alessandro Pasqua, the third generation, lead the company. I had the opportunity to meet the charming dynamic duo in NYC last month.
Winemaking runs in the Pasqua family, originally from Puglia, they made cherries in the region and also Primitivo wines. In 1925, the first generation of Pasqua brothers saw winemaking opportunities in the Veneto region and Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine was founded.
Riccardo and Alessandro are talented and passionate. Their wines are a delicious selection of some of the most unique wines of Italy. When they took over the family winery, things were in disarray. Respecting traditions yet bringing in a sense of youthful creativity and modern techniques the brothers have turned around the Pasqua brand. Under their leadership, the wines are now receiving world-wide recognition and are sold in over 50 countries.
2017 Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT
Riccardo and Alessandro want these wine to tell the love story that made Verona famous throughout the world. The artistic and graffiti like labels of the Passione Sentimento line are a tribute to the culture and history of Verona. This line of wine is made in more of a modern style. The grapes for the Bianco are hand selected and picked in advance and then left to dry for a brief period in crates in the drying loft. After the pressing of the grapes, they are macerated on the skins for 12 hours to increase the complexity and structure of the wine. Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Once fermentation is completed, part of the wine is aged in French oak barrels.
The wine is made from 100% Garganega yet is not classified as a Soave. This is where the Pasqua brothers push the envelope and bring in their rebellious side. They wanted to make a unique product that was outside the bounds of the Soave DOC. They knew they were making something really special and they wanted to get out of the classification, so they are not compared to other Soaves. This wine is their own unique creation and deserves to stand on its own. It is an elegant wine with good structure. It is of exceptional quality and exceptional value.
2017 Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT
The Rosso was the first wine in the hugely successful Passione Sentimento line. Alessandro and Riccardo’s mission was to bring the Amarone style of wine to a larger and more broader audience, and this wine delivers on that mission. The wine is a celebration of the past and future of Verona.
The Rosso is an extremely high quality wine for an exceptional price. The wine is a blend of Corvina and Croatina grapes with a percentage of Merlot. When dried the wine is velvety and smooth. The grapes are picked by hand and left to dry in wooden crates in the drying loft. There, by means of humidity control and air circulation, the grapes lose around 30% of their water content and achieve a high sugar concentration. Given that the grapes have differing ageing times, vinification takes place separately in steel tanks; the blend being created only after this. Passione Sentimento is aged in oak barrels for 3 months.
This appassimento process delivers a wine that is deep ruby-red in colour with an intense aromatic nose. There are wonderful notes of red fruit with spicy overtones. Balanced, round, plush and caressing on the palate. An amazing value wine for $16.
2013 Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella DOC Superiore
Alessandro describe their Mai Dire Mai as their “Formula One” wine, as it is their premium luxury line. The wines are made from the extraordinary terroir of the Montevegro Vineyard. The vines are situated on top of a hill at an altitude of 350 metres. The soils are basalt and calcareous, delivering wonderful minerality to the wines. Mai Dire Mai is an iconic line characterised by its elegance, complexity and unique palate. The Montevegro Vineyard site is named as such because of its high elevation. The translation in Italian, where monte means mountain and vegro means unattainable. Many felt the vines could not be grown here, hence the name Mai Dire Mai which means never say never. Or maybe the Pasqua brothers just had an affinity to James Bond movies(wink wink).
The wine reflects the terroir and altitude of the vineyards. The wine is elegant, austere and mineral driven. With this project, the Pasqua Brother wanted to bring back Valpolicella to what it really is. Riccardo say that, “Valpolicella is an outstanding expression of Italian winemaking. The Mai Dire Mai is their interpretation of the beautiful wines of Valpolicella, where the terroir gives life to the wine.”
2011 Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
Valpolicella is one of the greatest wine making region of Italy. Amarone’s are the signature wines of the Valpolicella region. The Pasqua brothers make this very special wine with great passion, respect and tradition. This wine is a perfect example of the Pasqua philosophy to make traditional old world wines with new world elegance. This is their flagship Amarone, that is produced in limited quantity.
This Amarone is made with their best grapes utilizing sophisticated techniques. This Amarone has long aging. The grapes are hand-picked and carefully selected and then placed in crates to dry for 4 months to achieve a higher sugar concentration. Ageing takes place in French oak casks for 24 months. The result is an elegant wine that is smooth across the palate and balanced with its fruit and acidity. The wine is rich, savory, with lots of bright fruit, dark chocolates and spice. The tannins were smooth and velvety with a memorably long finish. The wine is alluring, energetic, sexy elegant, and I can go on and on and on. Can you tell I absolutely adore this wine? This is truly one of the best Amarone I have had. Grab a bottle of this wine to drink now or put away in your cellar for years to come. It promises to deliver on all fronts.
**Photo of Alessandro and Riccardo Pasqua Courtesy Pasqua Wines**