Corvina


Founded in 1995, Tenuta Sant’Antonio is a relative newcomer in the Veneto, though the four Castagnedi brothers have worked their entire lives in the vineyards of Valpolicella and Soave. All the wines are made entirely from estate grapes, traditional to the region, grown in hillside vineyards that average 1,000 feet altitude. Sustainable practices include plant composting, total grass cover in the vineyards to control weeds, and natural pest control processes. French oak barriques are not employed. The three red wines considered today are a Valpolicella Superiore and Superiore Ripasso and a special selection Amarone della Valpolicella. These wines, all of which I recommend, were samples for review.
Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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The Tenuta Sant’Antonio Nanfrè 2015, Valpolicella Superiore, is a blend of 70 percent corvina grapes and 30 percent rondinella, made entirely in stainless steel. The color shades from dark to medium ruby; aromas of spiced and macerated black and red currants and cherries are woven with notes of mint and iodine, violets and cloves; it’s very dry, lively on the palate and imbued with slightly loamy graphite minerality, as well as tasty black fruit flavors and a hint of velvety tannins. 13.5 percent alcohol. Nothing too complicated here, but perfect for burgers, pizzas, red-sauce pastas and such. Now through 2018. Very Good+. About $14, representing Real Value.
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In the ripasso method, a young wine is refermented — “repassed” — in the Spring on the skins (of the dried grapes) of Amarone from the same vintage, lending the wine in question more depth and a more interesting aroma and flavor profile, as well as a degree or two of alcohol. The Sant’Antonio Monti Garbi 2014, Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, then aged a year in 500-liter oak casks, 30 percent new, 70 percent second use. The color is dark ruby-garnet; a slightly roasted and baked quality emerges in the notes of fruitcake and brandied cherries and currants, dusty plums and deep elements of cloves, cocoa powder and bitter chocolate, these factors adding a bit of astringency to the juicy black fruit flavors; a few moments in the glass bring in hints of iodine and wood smoke. The wine is sleek, lithe and muscular but not heavy or obvious, and the finish is packed with baking spices, dried flowers, flint-like minerals and fruit compote. 14 percent alcohol. Now through 2020 to ’22, accompanying pappardelle with rabbit, braised veal or lamb shanks, lamb chops grilled with garlic and rosemary; you get the point. Excellent. About $19, another Fine Value.
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The Sant’Antonio “Selezione Antonio Castagnedi” 2013, Amarone della Valpolicella, is a blend of 70 percent corvina grapes, 20 percent rondinella and five percent each croatina and oseleta, aged two years in new French oak casks of 500 liters. It’s a deep, broadly dimensioned wine that offers a dark ruby hue and pungent aromas of spiced and macerated blackberries, currants and plums steeped in lavender and violets, iodine and oolong tea, smoke and graphite; the wine is quite dry and profoundly flavorful and savory but cushioned by soft velvety tannins that take on a peppery, woodsy and meadowy aspect buoyed by bright acidity. Some time in the glass brings in notes of lavender, black licorice and mocha; the finish is layered, fine-grained and chiseled. Leans more toward elegance than blockbuster status. 15 percent alcohol. Try from 2018 through 2025 to ’28 with game flesh and fowl; grilled or roasted beef or pork; strong dry, mature cheeses. Excellent. About $45.
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It’s chilly and brisk today in what’s called the Mid-South in these here parts, putting me in mind of a hearty but not overdone or blockbusterish red wine. Such a candidate would be the Scaia Paradiso 2013, a Rosso Veronese from Tenuta Sant’Antonio, a noted producer of parrs13_art210Valpolicella and Amarone. The wine is a blend of 50 percent corvina grapes, 20 percent each corvinone and rodinella and 10 percent cabernet sauvignon. The wine undergoes a second fermentation on the skins of dried cabernet grapes for about 10 days, in the ripasso method of Valpolicella, though cabernet is unusual in this respect. The wine aged for a year in 500-liter oak casks, about 132 gallons, compared to 59 gallons for the standard French barrique. This is a gritty, loamy, smoky wine — there are three of the Dwarfs — whose dark but not over-extracted ruby-garnet color testifies to an innate transparency and lightness of being. Aromas of deeply spiced and macerated black and red cherries offer notes of cherry skin and pit, along with a foresty element of briers and brambles; a few moments in the glass bring out hints of mint and blueberry. A nicely chiseled graphite element pervades the texture, serving as backdrop for a barky and rooty quality, like some black tea concocted by monks, and a bit of Damson plum, licorice and violets, all animated by enlivening acidity and a touch of dusty tannins. None of these characteristics are unduly emphatic or dominate, the whole package being a model of balance and integration. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2019 or ’20 with full-flavored pasta dishes, grilled red meat or dry aged cheeses. Excellent. About $18, representing Real Value.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

The Zenato estate was founded in 1960 by Sergio and Carla Zenato, just east of Lake Garda, and focused from the beginning on the white trebbiano di Lugana grape. Today, the property makes a variety of wines, including the red Valpolicella Classico and Amarone. The estate is now operated by Sergio and Carla’s daughter Nadia and son Alberto, who have introduced a new wine to the Zenato roster is the Alanera Rosso Veronese, today’s Wine of the Week. Alanera means “black wing.”

So, the Zenato Alanera 2012, Rosso Veronese, is a blend of 55 percent corvina grapes, 25 percent rondinella, 10 percent corvinone and 5 percent each merlot and cabernet sauvignon. That latter percentage of grapes associated more with Bordeaux or California or indeed Tuscany instead of the Veneto is why this wine carries a Rosso Veronese designation rather than Valpolicella; merlot and cabernet sauvignon are not allowed in “official” Valpolicella at any level. Fifty percent of the grapes were dried. The wine aged 12 months in 300 to 500-liter tonneaux and 100 to 150-hectoliter tanks, meaning fairly large to quite large vessels — 100 HLs equal 2,641.7 gallons — and no new oak, these barrels all being two or three years old. The wine is a dark ruby color with a purple tinge at the rim; scents of ripe black currants, blueberries and plums are permeated by notes of licorice, lavender and violets, with a penetrating graphite element, the overall impression being spicy, roasted and a little fleshy. It’s quite dry but succulent, a bit velvety on the palate but buoyed by bright acidity and pert flint-like minerality; and boy is it tasty, with its black fruit flavors touched with fruitcake and oolong tea. Moderate and slightly chewy tannins lend heft from mid-palate back through the clean, chiseled finish. A very manageable 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2017 or ’18. Excellent. About $20, representing Great Value.

Imported by The Winebow Group, New York. A sample for review.