Would a serious wine producer name his wines Romeo and Juliet Passione Sentimento (Passion and Feeling)? This was the first thought that came to me when I read the invitation to a tasting of these wines from Pasqua. I decided to go and taste the wines for myself- one should not judge the wine by the label.
The hosts were the brothers Alessandro and Riccardo Pasqua.
Their father is Umberto Pasqua, President of Famiglia Pasqua Winery. Riccardo is CEO and Alessandro is Vice President Americas, with special responsibility for marketing and business development at Pasqua USA. In 2014, the brothers took over the management of the Famiglia Pasqua winery, which was founded in 1925. Since then, they have made many changes, such as producing wines that break the rules with graffiti-inspired labels, establishing partnerships with talented artists, improving the quality of the wine, and it was all done with a sense of humor. Acutely aware of the importance of the U.S. market, Pasqua established its own importing arm, Pasqua USA LLC, in 2009.
Riccardo said the US has become their biggest market, enabling them to buy out the other family members in 2017 and now the company speaks with one voice.
After construction in 2007 of a new environmentally friendly, gravity-fed winery and headquarters, including cellars, a laboratory, and temperature-controlled warehouse, Pasqua relocated to the village of San Felice, just outside Verona. Minimizing the carbon footprint informs every decision. Pasqua has control of 741 acres. 1/3 is estate owned and 2/3 are owned by growers. Pasqua purchases 100% of the grower grapes and has long-term contract and is responsible for decision making to ensure quality.
Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT 2017 made from 100% Garganega and dried in the Fruttaio for 15 days. Alessandro said this results in the concentration of sugars and floral aromas. After crushing, maceration on the skins takes place for over 12 hours. Vinification is with selected yeasts and a portion of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for a few months. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peaches and a touch of almonds. It is an easy to drink wine. $16
The wine is IGT because there was no category for dry white wines made from raisined grapes.
Riccardo said the name Passione Sentimento (Passion and Feeling) is to celebrate the city of love, Verona, because of it history, monuments and wine. Verona is associated with Romeo and Juliet. Every day 3,ooo messages are written on the 20-foot wall of Juliet’s house in Cappello Street. The label for the Romeo & Juliet wines is a photo of that graffitied wall photographed by Giò Martorana with Passione Sentimento superimposed on the label.
Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT 2016 made from Corvina, Croatina and Merlot. The grapes are hand picked and a portion of the Corvina and Merlot are put into small crates in the Fruttaio to dry until they lose 30% of their water content and gain high sugar content. This is then blended with the juice from the non-dried grapes and vinified in steel tanks. Following fermentation the grapes age in oak tonneaux for about 4 months and then aged in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice. $16
Riccardo said The Rosso is IGT because it breaks 10 different rules.
With these labels the Bianco and Rosso have become very successful in the U. S. This is the only red wine in the U.S. market made from 100% dried grapes that is not Valpolicella or Amarone.
Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 made from Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone and Oseleta. From five vineyards in the northeastern part of Valpolicella, called Valpantena. The soil is calcareous, flakey debris and very pebbly. The best bunches are harvested by hand and put into crates in the Fruttaio where after 3 months they become raisin like (appassimento). The grapes increase in sugar extracts by 25 to 30%. These dried grapes are pressed and racked in steel tanks where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in small French oak barrels, with a small portion of the wine aged in large cherry wood barrels (botti) for 18 to 20 months. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and cherries, spice, chocolate and a touch of vanilla. Alcohol 15% $46
This is a limited edition only 7,000 bottles were made. The label for Amarone Family Pasqua was designed by Giorgia Fincato, a Veneto artist.
Alessandro said all the grapes are dried in a Fruttaio with controlled ventilation and temperature. Every room is equipped with forced ventilation from the ceiling and there are about 70 movable fans. Doors and windows are always closed to keep the fresh air inside. At Pasqua the Fruttaio has three levels: an upper floor (200 meters, the ground floor and one below ground 10 meters.) This is because they feel that different grape varieties dry better at different levels. For example Garganega, a white grape dries better at the coolest level, 10 meters below ground. They do a mix of red grapes to dry at 3 different levels, then blend then accordingly after pressing.
As far as I know Pasqua is the only winery that has a 3 level Fruttaio and one of the few to make a dry white wine from dried grapes.
Mai Dire Mai ( Never Say Never) Valpolicella DOC 2013 made from 50% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta from the Val d’Illasi, east of Valpolicella. The soil is calcareous/clay. The grapes are hand picked perfectly ripe, sorted, destemmed and gently pressed. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature and then the wine ages in French oak tonneaux and predominantly new oak and some second passage for 18 months. This is well structured wine with hints of dark cherry, spice and coffee and a note of clove. $46
Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2011 made from Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta. The grapes are hand picked and carefully selected. They are dried in wooden crates for 4 months in the Fruttaio to achieve a high concentration of sugar. Cold maceration is for 3 to 4 days. Fermentation is in steel at a controlled temperature for 40 days. Malolactic fermentation is completed in steel. The wine is aged for 24 months in French oak barriques 70% and 30% in tonneaux. All the barrels are new. This is a complex wine with hints of cherry, dark fruit, leather and a note of cedar. $100 .
Romeo & Juliet Passione Setimento Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC made from 100% Glera grapes grown on hillside vineyards in the Conegliano sub zone of Treviso. The Charmat method is used and the wine stays in the tanks for 60 days instead of the more common 30 days. Riccardo said this produces tiny more persistent bubbles and a more elegant Prosecco. It has hints of pear and apple and the alcohol is only 11% . $16
It seems that the Pasqua brothers got it right!