“She’s angry with us for dissing Prosecco – every girls favourite fizz!”* Sure. Prosecco is for girls. Just like My Little P ony and the colour pink. Peaches are girly and how much do you love those peachy, soft bubbles? It’s not as expensive as Champagne but it sure does look like it!!!** Get him to pick out a DOCG Conegliano, Valdobbiadene*** (under £15 a bottle) if he won’t give you the credit card after all those shoes you bought, oops! Because girls you’re worth it. And if he wants a glass there’s always the top Prosecco from Cartizze*** – powerful, strong, some would even say, masculine – but let’s not go there, girlfriend.
Just as folk music gets louder and more fun as the evening progresses, Valpolicella goes up in different levels of intensity and is often all the better for it. Understanding these different levels of Valpolicella opens up a world of drinking pleasure. But it is not always easy. There are traditional producers and modern producers, seriously bulk wines from this nerve centre of Italian economy alongside artisanal winemakers in the hills; on top of that there are winemaking techniques unique to this region. Valpolicella has always been about innovation, since Roman times, so you’d be forgiven for not keeping up.
“You are not “suave” as your name implies, you are uncontrollable, untameable, unfaithful. So that’s it. I’m going. I’m leaving you, and this letter tells you why… It is easy to understand that hillside viniculture is potentially very different indeed from the viniculture of the plains. Unfortunately, the market mistakes one for the other: the bad vine chases the good vine away!” Roberto Anselmi. From an open letter to the industry announcing his “divorce” from Soave Consorzio. 2000. Driving along the freeway in the Veneto to visit Anselmi in Monteforte d’Alpone, our little hire car barely dodged the hurtling industrial trucks. It is immediately apparent the Veneto is a major industrial centre in Italy, jostling with Sicily for top place in Italy for production of bulk wine. Even if the green hillsides beyond the freeway are dotted with ancient castles. Imagine Roberto Anselmi on his motorbike weaving through these trucks (or by-passing it completely in his helicopter!) and you have a good idea of how different the wines of Anselmi are to the rest of the region.
If logic applied, I would not love Amarone della Valpolicella. To say it’s a big style of red is an understatement; it’s dramatic, high in alcohol and generally quite expensive. It has been said, Amarone “is seductive, sexy, confounding… an aphrodisiac”. Naturally, in the face of slavish devotion, I tasted it many times with regulation thin lips and furrowed brow. However, despite my best attempts to be cynical, I could not help but love the slightly debauched characters of licorice, smoke and dark fruits. Before long, I was singing the same love song, too. Amarone is unique and intimate, deep and sometimes sweet. Like a good love song, it sometimes has a slightly bitter edge. What I suspect is part of the appeal of Amarone is the way in which it is made. Even if an ardent Amarone fan knows nothing about the passitomethod of drying grapes on straw mats for months and then extracting the juice, there is shock of recognition in finding this out, like hearing the real story behind a favourite lyric. I have …