March 22, 2016

PRA, Monteforte d'Alpone

One of the Veneto's top producers. 


Prà's Valpolicella and Amarone are perfumed and nuanced. 

'Staforte' is a complex, lees-contact expression of Soave Classico. It's nutty, mineral, and an absolutely perfect wine for the table.


Pure finesse from the glacial slopes of Valpolicella

Prà is a reference-point producer in Soave. Critics including Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker (whose palates don’t exactly always align) revere Prà as one of the best wineries in the region. Graziano Prà initially earned this reputation for his whites — Soave can produce lackluster wines when made commercially from a blend of Garganega and Trebbiano grown on the flat lands without restricting yields. Graziano, whose vineyards are all on prime hillside sites, insists on dramatically lower yields than are allowed by the appellation. As a result, his wines have noticeable fruit concentration, impressive complexity and distinct varietal character. His entry-level Soave Classico, 100% Garganega fermented in stainless steel, is a highly enjoyable, textured and mineral white that pairs brilliantly with seafood. The more premium Soaves in Prà’s portfolio ('Staforte' and 'Monte Grande') undergo lees contact and barrel aging respectively, to create seriously complex whites. The volcanic soils on which these vines are grown provide palpable minerality.

In 2001, Graziano Prà turned his sights to red wine, buying a unique plot of virgin land in the Val d’Illasi overlooking the benchmark estate of Romano Dal Forno. 'Morandina' was his first foray into red winemaking, using the fruit from this spectacular vineyard — it’s organic, and at 500m altitude on glacial soils. The naturally low-yielding vines produce about 40hl/Ha, roughly half the permitted crop.  Graziano built a state-of-the-art winery next to the vineyard here, where the grapes that go into his Amarone-style wines are dried.

In many ways Graziano’s wines call Burgundy to mind more than traditional Valpolicella & Soave — mineral inflected, highly perfumed, savoury and flawlessly balanced. We often refer to Côtes de Nuits or Chablis for comparison.


2014 'Morandina' Valpolicella

Retail: $27.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

90 Points, John Szabo
This is a terrific Valpolicella from one of the most reliable, if relatively new, names in the region. Graziano Prà has been bottling fine Soave since the early '90s, but only entered into the Valpolicella game in the mid naughts. By then his craft was well honed and his vision crystallized: to produce wines of consummate finesse and balance, shunning both excesses and deficiencies… This is all crunchy red fruit, mid-weight, fresh and lively, buoyed by fine, ripe acids and unhindered by either oak or excessive extraction - a pure pleasure to drink, especially with a light chill. This will bring to mind fine cru Beaujolais or Loire Cabernet Franc, for example, fruity but also gently leafy and lightly reductive…  


2010 Amarone della Valpolicella

Retail: $89.95 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

95 Points, John Szabo
...I've yet to see 17% alcohol worn so well, so seamlessly integrated, fully enmeshed in the ensemble. This is extraordinarily drinkable, especially when served with a light chill (17-18ºC as it should be). Graziano Prà has proven himself in a short time to be both a master of Soave... as well as Valpolicella, crafted in a fully refined, elegant, seamless style. It's hard to imagine getting better than this. Seekers of elegant, refined, technically spot on but soulful Amarone, can take refuge here. 


2013 'Staforte' Soave Classico

Retail: $40.95 / bottle (6 btls/cs)

This spectacular white is made from 100% Garganega from hillside vineyards on volcanic soils. It has plenty of depth and is full bodied without any sign of oak. Wonderful fruit concentration, fleshy texture, minerality and a nutty note make this very impressive. Fermented and aged in stainless, the wine receives regular batonnage, which provides a bread-like character and creaminess on the palate.

Tasting Note: Bursting with aromas of fresh apricots, peach and golden apples with dried chamomile, white flowers and a lights note of vanilla. The mineral notes, especially graphite, give the wine elegance. The finish is long with exotic fruit, sage and classic aromas of hazelnuts.