Mary Dowey’s Bottle of the Week: Serve This Juicy Italian Red Chilled

A juicy young Italian red to enjoy cool before summer ends …

Begali Lorenzo Valpolicella Classico 2018 

This summer the idea of serving fruity red wines slightly cool has finally taken hold – maybe because it’s a fashion or maybe because we’ve learnt to appreciate the extra refreshment factor in weather that has mercifully been a degree or two higher than usual.

I’ve already mentioned that half an hour in the fridge can enhance young reds such as Beaujolais, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. The same holds true for youthful Valpolicella, the exuberantly juicy red from the Veneto in north-east Italy. Having struggled with a lacklustre image for decades (because oceans of poor quality stuff were sold in bulk), Valpol is now proving just how delicious it can be when made from good grapes by a talented producer. This one, from the highly rated Valpolicella Classico zone, is a perfect example. 

With winning aromas of red cherries, raspberries, plums and a tiny hint of summer herbs, it immediately smells inviting. Those same elements come through on the palate with impressive purity and oomph, leading into a slightly peppery finish. It’s likeable and easygoing – just what’s needed at this time of year – with the extra charm and polish associated with an acclaimed estate. Lorenzo Begali, who runs his 10 hectares near Lake Garda with the help of his son and daughter, has won countless awards including several coveted 3 Bicchieri (3 glasses) ratings from Italy’s most exacting wine guide, Gambero Rosso.

This Valpolicella will slip down effortlessly by itself or fit in with a wide assortment of food – cold meats, grilled food from the barbecue, most dishes featuring tomatoes, mushrooms and/or cheese… and of course, by extension, most pizzas and pastas.

Don’t forget to try the half-an-hour-in-the-fridge experiment.

Alcohol: 12.5%