Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Wines Of Zenato

Every time I visit Verona which is located in Veneto I make it a point to visit my dear friends in Lugana nearbyLugana is a wine region east of Veneto and west of Lombardy in northern Italy. The name has many rumored derivations from local dialect and Latin, all essentially meaning “lake in the woods,” referring to its once heavily wooded landscape and location along Lake Garda.The region is very ancient---going back many centuries--- and its wine was known to many Roman writers such as Virgil and Pliny. 
It is here that in 1960 the late Sergio Zenato developed his winery. Located in the heart of Lugana, the winery is run by his wife Clara and two children Alberto and Nadia. They expanded Zenato winery into Veneto Valpolicella country in Sant' Ambrogio.di Valpolicella about 15 kilometres northwest of Verona. and 14 kilometres from Lugana (Peschiera del Garda)! 
The Zenato family is definitely what I call a "trendy designer" family. They are traditional in wine making method but are not afraid to delve into the "new"! I found that out recently with several of their wines.
Zenato Veneto Rosso (LCBO #208579, $13.80) shows their progressive movement towards using "parziale appassimento" (partially dried grapes) blends in their wine. In this case cabernet sauvignon, merlot and corvina varieties are superbly blended to produce a flavourful, concentrated and aromatic wine that is soft enough to drink on its own yet matches a wide variety of dishes from cheese to roast beef.  
Zenato Alanera is another blend of partially dried grapes--in this case, merlot and corvina. However the wine gets its name from the Italian word for "Crow" symbolizing the dark, shiny colour that the Corvina grape gives to the wine. Black fruit dominates along with smoke and herbal nose. The palate is medium to full bodied and finish long lasting. I would have it with game and beef BUT you might also enjoy it with pizza and pasta!  Good news is that 360 cases are due to be released in Vintages on February 22nd 2020!   
Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso   
What is Ripassa?  Ripassa is the brand name derivative of  the wine making method called Ripasso. The Valpolicella wine is allowed to "pass over" (hence "Ripasso") the left over the still warm "marc" (left over grape deposits) for a period of 7 to 8 days and a second fermentation begins. The left over wine is richer, more alcoholic and more perfumed than regular Valpolicella.. The wine is then aged in 500 litre casks and  barrels for 18 months.
Grape varieties used to make this wine are Corvina, Rondinella and Oseleta. Molinara which used to be used is now declassified and other grapes can be used. The wine's dark colour is mostly due to the 85% Corvina usage.
Zenato Ripassa (Vintages #479766, $26.95 is a reasonable facsimile of Amarone but at a reduced price. This wine which exhibits dark fruit, coffee and herbal notes! Full bodied! 
Definitely a meat wine for game, steak or beef but also good with hard cheese and sausage salami.
Zenato Amarone
While Barolo is said to be the "King" of Italian wine, Amarone is looked upon as the close contender if not equal! It is Veneto's greatest expression of wine. Zenato actually has three levels of Amarone available in this area: The Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2017 (Vintages #413179, $50.95) ----considered a huge wine even by Amarone standards and a magnificent wine with ripe blackberry, fig, chocolate and dried berries in a full, velvet body; the Sergio Zenato Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella (Vintages #132316, $109) ---a huge wine with an evolving mix of berries, dried fruit, vanilla, plum, cream, limestone and the wine keeps evolving, According to James Suckling "probably the best Amarone ever made" and given a 99/100 score! Another wine that is unavailable and I have not tried is listed as Zenato Archivio Storico Amarone della Valpolicella 2008 (Vintages #10383, $479.),  At that price I am sure it not only is superb but a flavour that will last for several weeks!! 
Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2017 92/100 points
Zenato Valpolicella Superiore is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese though those marked "Classico" usually has Corvinone replacing the Sangiovese. The wine has black cherry flavours supplemented by currant and vanilla spice with a touch of chocolate.
It is an excellent pairing to food such as pasta, pork dishes, cold cuts and fowl. It is strong  enough to withstand strong sauces. Excellent value (Vintages #995704, $18.95) 
Zenato Lugana San Benedetto
The Trebbiano grape reaches its highest form in the Lugana area of Italy. Located on the southern banks of Lake Garda the Lugana area allows Trebbiano to express the mineral rich clay soils that give its wines a floral and fruity nose of white flowers and apricot along with nuances of nuts, citrus orange and white fruit.This wine (Vintages #707158, $19.95) is no different making it excellent drinking on its own or with seafood or light meat platters.