The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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july 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  57 INTRODUCING LA GIUVA La Giuva Il Rientro Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2014 ($50) Ruby red and garnet-tinged in color, this wine features alluring Zin-like notes of cherry compote, licorice, and forest floor woodiness that waft from the glass, followed by the faintest whiff of vanilla flower. The romance continues on the palate, where a silky yet vibrant mouthfeel gives way to dried cherry, sugar plum, and earthy spice flavors that linger like a sweet, comforting friend. La Giuva Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 ($100) Dark, rich, viscous, plush, and full-bodied, this Amarone melds ripe Marasca cherry and rich dark chocolate notes into a pool of pleasure in which complex flavors of cocoa-dusted dried cherry, blueberry, and licorice swirl. They gracefully coalesce into a long, satisfying emulsion of sticky tannins and sweet fruit. La Giuva is imported by Enovation Brands, Inc. Produced from partially dried Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Oseleta grapes grown in the Squaranto Valley east of Verona, La Giuva Il Rientro Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2014 and Amarone DOCG 2013 are now available in the U.S. launch of La Giuva wines. Filippo Lapides, National Brand Manager for Enovation Brands, says the La Giuva Valpolicella Superiore and Amarone are initially slated for distribution in just a few "privileged" markets, including as Boston, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. An excellent Recioto, meanwhile, is due in the fall. "Only a limited amount of each wine will be imported and distribution will be focused on prestigious on-premise accounts," Lapides explained. For Malesani, the road back to Bobby Van's wasn't an easy one. Purchasing a ready-made winery or investing in commercially popular wine regions like Tuscany or Piedmont would have been more economical and convenient. Instead, he opted to start from scratch, spending three years searching the hills of Valpolicella until he found the perfect site northeast of Verona in the Squaranto Valley: a rugged, little-known area characterized by steep hills and gorges forged by prehistoric volcanic eruptions. Surveying the site, Malesani intuitively knew he could produce world-class wines there. "The olive oils from the area were exceptional, so I knew in my heart that grapes could succeed, too," he says. At 350 meters (roughly 1,150 feet) above sea level, the Squaranto Valley's rocky, calcareous, and well-drained marine fossil soils made grape-growing incred- ibly challenging at first. "It took a lot of time and money to break the stones and discipline the soil," Malesani adds with a laugh. Growers in the more popular western side of Valpolicella seemed skeptical of his actions. "But seeing my success, and tasting the purity and freshness of my wines, they are now searching for vineyards near me," he says. "Crazy or not, I really believe in this terroir." La Giuva produces its wines from a blend of grapes indigenous to the Valpolicella region: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Oseleta. Malesani monitors the progress of the vines (which he calls his "babies") with a precise eye for detail honed by years on the soccer field. Every morning he drives his pickup truck into the vineyards to inspect them, and when he travels, he watches them via a vineyard webcam connected to an app on his smartphone. All grapes are organically farmed, hand-harvested, and air dried in crates (the winery's elevation ensures steady circulation of cool, dry mountain air) before fermentation. The grapes for the Il Rientro dry for 20 days, while the berries designated for the Amarone do so for three months. "Without drying, Corvina is nothing," Malesani says, adding that drying reveals character and complexity while imparting structure, elegance, and a brilliant ruby color to the blend (the other varieties add red-fruited aromatics and enriched flavors). La Giuva wines are clean, precise, rich, and complex, delivering a pure expression of Val Squaranto at consumer-friendly prices. The packaging—elegant yet hip—is both eye-catching and stylish. Paul Modica, General Manager of Bobby Van's Steakhouse, told The Tasting Panel that his decision to include La Giuva wines on the restaurant's wine list was a no-brainer. "The majority of our clientele are international guests who are more likely to order Italian wine over Californian Cabernet," Modica explained. "La Giuva Valpolicella and Amarone really complement our well-versed wine list and pair perfectly with our numerous pasta and meat dishes." Modica suggests salmon, veal, or duck with the Valpolicella, and with the Amarone, he touts "Bobby Van's well-marbled bone-in ribeye, of course!" As the evening came to an end, Malesani smiled as he looked out over the Bobby Van's dining room while sipping a glass of La Giuva Amarone. "This is the completion of my dream," he said contentedly, a gleam in his eye not unlike those lights in Times Square. Enovation Brands Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Eric Rabinoff, Northeast Business Unit Director Keri Kennedy-Morgan, and District Manager Marc Nasser, along with Roberto Alessandrini, Sales Representative at Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, celebrate the New York launch of La Giuva wines at Bobby Van's Steakhouse in New York City.

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