So tonight I feel like having a little Italian, so why not open a bottle of our October wine club selection? The 2009 Famiglia Pasqua Passimento Veneto, a wine from the far north of Italy, where the cuisine tends more toward rich risotto and polenta dishes. Now, for those of you familiar with Amarone, this wine is very similar to the Valpolicella Ripasso, which is the second pressing of the dried Corvina grapes used to make Amarone. The Pasqua family named this wine "Passimento" as they first dry the Corvina grapes before pressing them, creating a much more concentrated and rich flavor. Then, unlike Amarone or Valpolicella Ripasso, they blend the first pressing of the dried Corvina grapes with Croatina, Merlot and several other local varieties of grapes from Verona that are not dried, resulting in a unique blend that has the richness of an Amarone, but is much more approachable for everyday drinking.
The color of this wine is a deep ruby in the glass, and the nose portrays a richness, with concentrated scents of blackberry and dried figs, leather and rose petals. There's a sweetness in the nose that's somewhat deceiving, as this is by no means a sweet wine. The taste starts with some strong fruit notes, ripe red berries and plums, transitioning to a gravelly taste reminiscent of some wonderful Bordeaux, along with dry herbs and just the faintest hint of mint. The finish is somewhat tight, as the tannins are still developing, yet still providing for a smooth, dry finish.
As for pairings, this wine would pair well with a variety of rich, northern Italian dishes, and tonight I enjoyed it with some penne alla vodka, and the tightness of the tannins played against the richness of the cream in the sauce, while the rich fruit flavor of the wine balanced out the spice of the tomatoes in the sauce. Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's really a lovely everyday version of Amarone, maybe an Amarone light, but at a price that won't make you cringe. I found this one at my local wine merchant for a tasting for only $14! So if you have the opportunity, pick some up and enjoy it with a mushroom risotto!