A lovely evening of reds from the Veneto region – one that I don’t play in very often.  You don’t so much notice the elevated alcohol of these wines on the evening, but there is no mistaking it the morning after…  Wines were served over a lovely dinner, blind in flights of two.  We were a group of 10 so no Coravin tonight. 

Flight 1:  2013 Secco-Bertani IGT Verona, 2013 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella.  Both new wines to me.  The Secco-Bertani ripe clean floral, raisin, rubber.  A fruity profile, good fresh acid. Very nice. The Grassi more herby, meaty, coffee, dust.  Nice crunchy structure.  Also good, I gave the edge to the S-B.

Flight 2:  2010 Tedeschi ‘La Fabriseria’ Valpolicella Superiore, 2013 Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella Superiore.  Two more new ones for me.  Fabriseria very ripe, dark raisin, dusty.  Sweet cherry in the mouth, nice balanced structure.  A sweet profile wine for sure, pretty tannic too but the overall impression is very sweet.  The website says there is 2.9% residual sugar so no surprise.  Pretty good.  Mai Dire Mai (never say never) was in fact very much making me say never.  Vanillin oak nose, pronounced coconut, just overwhelming oak influence in all aspects of the wine.  I hate the style.  Mai, mai, mai.

Flight 3:  2000 Romano Dal Forno Valpolicella Superiore, 2010 Giuseppe Quintarelli Valpolicella Superiore.  These ones I know a bit, pretty interesting to have the two top estates of the region head-to-head blind.  Dal Forno ripe cherry, initially not overly sweet, fennel, rubber, coffee.  Very complex.  On palate chocolate, sweet oak, creamy.  Another sweet styled wine, youthful at age 19 but still showing lots of barrique.  For drinking with meals the sweetness is too much for me, though it’s impressively concentrated and complex.  Quintarelli more volatile, again rubber (I am getting this note a lot, sometimes like new Michelins, other times like pencil erasers), has sweetness too but harmonious and better balanced.  This can go with a meal.  Excellent.

Flight 4:  1996 Allegrini Amarone, 2015 Masi Costasera Amarone.  I blame the perfectly pink venison loin that these wines came up against for my temporary loss of focus here.  The Allegrini, a bottle I have owned since release, was drinking really well and not showing anything like its 23 years.  Rubber, not overly sweet, thick and meaty profile, balanced and adequate acidity.  You would never guess its age.  The Masi might have been just a whisker corked, judgment withheld.

Flight 5:  2012 Speri Valpolicella Apassiamento, 2013 Masi Costasera Nectar.  Speri showing maple syrup, not overly sweet profile, meaty, nice balanced wine still pretty tannic, light acidity.  Not super complex but drinking well.  The Masi less sweet, herby, rubber, big wine nice balance, grippy tannins, nice.

Then a couple of very good Recioto wines to follow (2011 Speri, 2010 Viviani) on which I didn’t take notes. 

A great evening with friends but kind of a mixed bag overall wine-wise for me.  I think most people, including me, had the Quintarelli as WOTN.  A mix of styles, but the sweet profile that cuts across almost all of these, which I suppose follows naturally from drying grapes on mats before fermenting them, does get heavy (and 15%+ alcohol is not uncommon).  There were some lovely matches with cheese after the tasting was finished but to my taste these are not ideal wines for drinking with meals.  I look for more freshness than these were generally carrying, and would rather not feel I’m getting bonked over the head with alcohol.  Always a pleasure and an education to try something unfamiliar but I don’t think I will be pursuing these.