Pragal is one of those unassuming generic-looking bottles that only gets its due when you dare to get into it. It doesn't scream, "I'm here! Let me show my stuff!" Instead it almost willfully holds back its promise by blending into the shelf with more formidable labels overshadowing it.
I first purchased a case of Pragal a year ago along with several Spanish wines and proceeded to stock them all in the Spanish rack. I guess I thought they all looked Spanish. It took an especially considerate customer's direction to get the wine where it was supposed to be - with the Italians.
Pragal is a sturdy red wine made by Bertani, one of the giants of Veneto. Among their landholdings is a large expanse in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico region. They have another large parcel 16km east of Verona. Pragal sources Corvina from the Valpolicella region and Merlot and Syrah from their Val d'Illasi vineyard to the east. The wine is then classified as "Veneto IGT."
All three Pragal grape types are sourced from low yielding, hand pruned vines. After harvest some grapes are dried appassimento-style which accounts for the wine's richness. A lengthy maceration and fermentation at low temperatures in large oak barrels is done before a malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Then there is a six month fining in oak barrels before the final blending is done. The wine is released only after being held for more aging in the bottle.
Along with having the heft of a big red wine, Pragal has the fruity spiciness and bright acidity one might expect of serious Italian wine. The tannins are soft. The finished product is a deep ruby color with garnet and violet tints. Flavors include red fruit preserves, dried roses, black cherry, spices, tobacco and black pepper. The rich intensity of this wine is persistent making it perfect as an accompaniment for all red meats including game. A formidable pasta dish would also work with this wine.