As I perused the shelves and he stocked them, this was a recommendation by a Trader Joe’s employee. And for the second time, it was a good one. TJ employees, you’re batting a thousand.
I can honestly say this is the first wine where I could actually smell those other fragrances that wine reviewers love to write about. Two distinct aromas came out of the bottle when first opened. The first aroma, and one that agreed with the verbiage on the back of the bottle, was cherries. It was strong and easily recognizable. The second aroma was wet lumber. Well, maybe just damp lumber. Of course those words were not on the back of the bottle. I never made it over to the Home Depot lumber yard with the bottle on a rainy day to confirm the two aromas were the same. But I’m stickin’ with it. Cherries and damp lumber, that’s a winning combination.
The thing that sets this wine apart from others is a two-step fermentation process. The second fermentation is accomplished by adding the leftover dried grape skins and seeds from making Amarone to the Valpolicella brew after the first fermentation is finished. This is supposed to bump up the alcohol content and add additional flavor complexity to the wine. It seems to work. I suppose the reasoning behind this process was, why feed the leftovers to the hogs and let them have all the fun?
How does the wine rate? The flavor is strong and different from many other wines you’ve tasted. The back of the bottle agrees with the strong flavor. It doesn’t mention different. But it does mention pairing with roast meat and mature cheese. That sounds like good advice. The flavor may take some getting used to. It did for me.
However, does a different flavor mean it’s a bad wine? No. Everything else about the wine seems first class. There are no bad flavors. There are no bad aftertaste. The tannins are well under control. The acidity is fine. All in all, it’s a well crafted wine and deserves its DOC classification. After long and thoughtful consideration, as well as many glasses, it’s going to near the top of my list in a second place tie.