Pasqua puts a little love in your life via their wines which feature Verona’s most famous love story — that of Romeo and Juliet. Even today in Verona, lovers write around 3,000 messages on the wall of Juliet’s house in Cappello Street. A photo of that wall shot by photographer Giò Martorana superimposes with the names of these wines: PassioneSentimento.
Pasqua offers two very unusual dry wines, one white and one red wine made by an unusual and time consuming process– and one that is rarely (if ever!) done intentionally in the US. In fact, Pasqua offers the only dry red in the U.S. market made from 100% dried grapes that’s not Valpolicella nor an Amarone, and one of the rare whites.
What’s the process? It’s called appassimento and it’s what the Italian Food Wine and Travel group of writers is writing about this month!
According to a Pasqua press release, “The drying of grapes to concentrate flavors and aromas, appassimento is an expensive process. To begin with, grapes must be hand-harvested, to avoid damage to the skins, and to enable a selection of bunches in which fruit is spaced more widely apart. Consider, too, that by the end of the 3-month drying process, the fruit will have lost up to 60% in volume; thus, many more grapes are needed to make Amarone than is the case for a “standard” red wine. The Pasqua family, however, had the startling idea of making a less expensive white and a red wine, in which grapes lose “only” 15-30% volume. Launched in 2014, close on 170,000 cases of Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento (Passion-Feeling) were sold in 2017 alone, with the U.S. representing about one-third of the total.”
“Grapes are placed in small crates in the fruttaio (drying shed) for four to six weeks, until the grapes lose 15 to 30% of water content, depending on the vintage. The resulting extract exhibits a higher concentration of sugars, richer fruit, natural aromas and characteristics of the terroir.”
For the red, aging follows: around three months in oak tonneaux. The results? “Vibrant, rounded, rich and lush, it exhibits the classic Amarone flavors of cherry, plum and spice on the palate, along with the appassimento-style slightly bitter almond finish,” says Pasqua.
Alessandro Pasqua describes it as “a fun wine, inside and out.”
Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento Rosso Veneto IGT SRP $16
Merlot 40%, Corvina 30%, 30% Croatina
sample for my review consideration
Color: Dark maroon
Nose: Spicy black pepper, nice herbal/vegetal characteristics, deep rich black cherry. I was able to enjoy this glass in a stemless reidel syrah but a Bordeaux glass would work for other palates. The glass really brought out different notes in the wine.
Palate: Ripe fruit, cherry, cranberry, pipe tobacco, plum. John found chaparral (the sage dominated brush in Southern California) on the back of the palate. I did not care for this wine as much as others; Sue really liked the vegetal notes in the wine. I appreciated it when it was in the Syrah glass, but did not care for it overall, however this was not the consensus of the room. John and Judy really liked the richness, earthy components, and vegetal characteristics of the wine.
Pairing: Goes with red sauced pizza, fantastic with the antipasto salad. The spicy pepperoncini and cured meats mary so well with the wine. Sue felt that this was a great Italian restaurant table wine. It was very nice with the meatballs and the pizza with red sauce.
Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento Bianco Veneto IGT SRP $16 – Alcohol 14%
sample for my review consideration
Like the red blend, this white wine made of 100% Garganega uses the appassimento method, and it is thought to be the only dry white created by any Veneto producer. Following the success of the Rosso, the Bianco was introduced a year later, in 2015.
The 100% Garganega grapes (Gar-GAN-eh-gah) were harvested early and hand-picked, then dried for around 15 days to concentrate the floral aromas and flavors. They then do a 12-hour-plus maceration to add “structure and complexity. After vinification a portion is aged in French oak barrels for a few months.”
Both Sue and I highly recommend this white wine– great value for the price, super fun, and really delicious with or without food. We were both surprised by how much we loved this wine! I would love to see this wine on a restaurant wine list and I’d definitely order it!
Color: Pale straw and ever so slightly on the greenish side
Nose: Herbacious, lemon, citrus, anise, it is not extremely expressive on the nose, it may not be expressive, but you do want to go back to it and continue sniffing it.
Palate: Anise comes through, with lemon curd as opposed to fresh lemon, and a nice roundness to the mouth feel. I felt that I would be just as happy having this wine as I would a gin martini with a twist of lemon. There is something similar between the botanicals in the wine and the botanicals in a gin with a bit of lemon. Sue really liked this wine. This wine is all about the mouthfeel. After coming back to it from tasting other wines, there is such a wonderful mouthfeel, so viscous.
Pairing: We immediately thought of seafood, particularly calamari. John liked it with the pizza crust. Sue felt it was beautiful with the antipasto salad. So good with the pesto pizza and the the red sauce pizza, and the alfredo sauce pizza, the creamy sauce with the onion was perfect with the wine.
Want more like this? Check out our twitter chats 8am Pacifc on the first Saturday of the month by following the hashtag #ItalianFWT and these articles by my fellow #ItalianFWT folks!
- Jennifer at Vino Travels will share “An Amarone Pairing with a Visit to Brunelli”
- Jeff at Food Wine Click will share “Dip Your Biscotti in Montefalco Sagrantino Passito“
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass will share “Passito and peaches –perfect late-summer fare (#ItalianFWT)”
- Camilla Mann at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share “Polpette al Forno + Sartarelli Verdicchio Passito 2013”
- Wendy Klik at A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Appassimento Method explained in Layman Terms”
- Kevin Gagnon at Snarky Wine will share “Great Sweet Wines of the World Part 2: Passito”
- Cindy at Grape Experiences will share “Italian Night? Pair Appassimento from Abruzzo with Homemade Wild Mushroom Ravioli“
- Nicole at Somm’s Table will share “The Sweet Side of ILatium Morini: Sette Dame Recioto di Soave Classico with an Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake“
- Here at Wine Predator we share “Pasqua Puts a Little Love in Your Life Part 2: White and Red Appassimento“
- Host Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will share “3 Different Italian Appassimento Wines That You Will Love”
What an interesting story and so glad that I have two more dry wines to try made by this method. Thanks.
I’m all for wines that give a bit of the “passito experience” but manage to stay affordable. Then you can enjoy them more often. Nice finds!