Amarone Buying Guide

Learn about this delicious dry red wine from Italy

All of the following delicious Amarones can be found for $100 or less (which means I’m leaving out exceptional Amarones from Romano Dal Forno and Giuseppe Quintarelli, which have a cult following and can therefore run at $300 to $450). Most range from $40 to $70. Of recent vintages, 2006 and 2004 were both exceptional for Amarone.

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
1999: Very dark magenta color; mushroom, tobacco, dried leather nose; rich, youthful, complex, dried berry, dried black fruit, tar, licorice, herbal palate; long finish. 95 pts.

2001: Opaque deep red violet color; nice dried berry, orange, orange peel, dried herbs nose; tasty, dried berry, black plum, licorice palate, with depth; long finish. 94 pts.

1997: Slightly bricking dark red violet color; redolent, dried berry, dried fig, licorice, tar nose; youthful, dried berry, tar, charcoal, licorice, ripe black fruit palate with medium acidity; long finish. 94 pts.

2005: Aromatic, deep berry, roasted fruit, dried black fruit, orange spice nose; tight, deep berry, roasted fruit, dried black fruit, orange spice, tart black fruit palate; long finish. 93+ pts.

2007: Medium ruby color; nice baked cherry, dried cherry, raspberry nose; rich, tight, raspberry and cherry puree, dried berry palate; long finish. 92+ pts.

2006 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Medium bricking red color with pale meniscus; dried red berry, smoke, pepper, olive nose; tight, dried berry, tart black fruit, smoke, graphite, licorice, mineral palate; long finish. 94 pts.

2001 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe
Nearly opaque red violet color; black olive, tart licorice, black fruit, tar, seawater nose; nice, black plum, licorice, salted licorice, anise, tar, sage palate; long finish. 94 pts.

2006 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Dark red violet color; aromatic, dried cherry, dried berry, anise, light milk chocolate nose; rich, thick, tasty, dried cherry, sour cherry, lightly chocolaty, sweetly smoky palate with firm, somewhat grainy tannins; long finish. 93 pts.

2001 Tommaso Bussola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Tb
Raisiny, slightly hot, grapey nose; concentrated black fruit, pepper, plum and raisiny palate; long finish. 93+ pts.

2005 Michele Castellani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Collezione Ca del Pipa Cinque Stelle
Intense, appealing, dried black fruit, dried berry nose; tasty, dried berry, dried black fruit, anise palate; long finish. 93 pts.

2001 Manara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Intense, raisin, apricot, fig and clove nose; rich, soft plum and cherry palate; medium-plus finish. 93 pts.

2005 Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato Riserva
Opaque purple red violet color; intense, dried berry, tobacco, herbal nose; tasty, intense, tart and smoky black fruit, leather, tar palate; long finish. 93 pts.

2006 Stefano Accordini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Acinatico
Medium-dark ruby color; smoky, savory, VA, baked berry, tar nose; tasty, youthful, rich, ripe black fruit, licorice, tar, dried blackberry palate; long finish. 93 pts.

2004 Carlo Ferragu Amarone della Valpolicella
Very dark red violet color; nice, high pitched, dried berry, fig, tar, black fruit and clove nose with a touch of VA; tasty, clove, black fruit, dried berry, dried black fruit, fig, licorice and tar palate; medium-plus finish. 93 pts.

2007 Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Very dark ruby color; intense, spice, anise, root, licorice, tart black fruit, chocolate nose; tart black fruit, licorice, tar, beet juice palate; long finish. 92+ points

2003 Aldegheri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Barricato
Dark plum red color; chocolate, fig, tar, earthy, powdered chocolate nose; tasty chocolate, raspberry, rich, youthful, dried black fruit palate; medium-plus finish. 92+ pts.

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  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
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    Are the grapes protected from the elements during the drying process? Also, are they subjected to mold during the drying process?

    Sep 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM

  • Snooth User: Sweetstuff
    Hand of Snooth
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    My understanding: yes and yes.

    Sep 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

  • Snooth User: lingprof
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    Why are Amarones as a whole so expensive?

    Sep 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

  • Wonderful wines, indeed but because of the cost, I drink them rarely. Another wine that is very similar but less costly is the Ripasso della Valpolicella. Much less expensive and not the same I know, but still a worthy vino.

    Sep 13, 2012 at 2:54 PM

  • Amarones by virtue of the intense labor and time make these wines more expensive. I lived near the Valpolicella Valley for three years and visited many of the wineries GDP discusses as well as many others off the beaten path. The grapes are usually hand selected clusters that are laid in airing racks that are stacked in open air facilities. They are brought out and hand turned during the drying process as they turn to almost raisin like (appassimento). The grapes become more intense and dehydrated, another reason for increased cost as it takes more grape to produce the same bottle. The winemakers I visited have improved their operations in both purity and cleanliness and this has decreased the amount of botrytis. I too agree that one can find very good ripasso (literally, to re-pass) from the region. They, when made right, resemble amarone and are often called baby amarones.

    Sep 13, 2012 at 3:42 PM

  • So sorry, I gave GDP credit for the apologies to Richard. Chin Chin!

    Sep 13, 2012 at 3:44 PM

  • I am a great fan of Amarone as it is a wonderful complex , powerful yet subtle wine. The Italians refer to this as a " wine of meditation" which it truly is as it a wine that deserves time and reflection and should not be rushed. It is a wine of character and this character changes glass by glass, one of the best examples we have tried and represent is a Vaona Perrgandi Classico Amarone 2008 ( Lake Garda), deep rich plum color, a velvet like texture than is heaven on a stick ( btw not all Amarone's are expensive you just need to get off the beaten track like we do to find these gems)

    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:43 AM

  • Snooth User: ccheede
    740853 47

    I enjoyed this article and am also an Amarone fan - but was particularly interested in the comment about volatile acidity. Some time ago I opened an expensive, well rated Amarone that exhibited so much VA that it was almost undrinkable. Is VA common in Amarone, is it bottle variation, what can be done with it, will it blow off, is some level of VA acceptable, did I just get a bad bottle?

    Sep 14, 2012 at 4:50 AM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
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    zinfandel1 - Great question about protection of the grapes during the drying process, and whether they're subject to mold during drying. The answer, these days, is yes, Most producers use very clean, specially designed drying chambers, to keep the drying grapes as pristine as possible. As to everyday mold, they would certainly want to counter and eliminate that too. If you're asking about botrytis, that's a more complex question. Many producers, like the Allegrinis, believing in avoiding botrytis on grapes going into Amarone, as that kind of rot breaks down acid and tannins that they want in their wines. Other producers, like the Tedeschis, go for about 30% botrytis in their grapes, feeling it adds softness and richness.

    Sep 14, 2012 at 10:56 AM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
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    lingprof, I think Paul gave a very good answer about why Amarones tend to be expensive. As mentioned in the article, too, it takes over twice as many dried grapes to make a bottle of Amarone as it does a regular wine, from non-dried grapes.

    Sep 14, 2012 at 10:57 AM

  • Snooth User: Richard Jennings
    Hand of Snooth
    780161 110,584

    ccheede - Amarones made prior to the last 10 years or so did tend to exhibit a lot of VA, due largely to the lengthy fermentations, and reliance on the native yeasts to start those fermentations (a lot of the yeasts that start fermentations, before Saccharomyces cervisae kicks in, yield VA). These days, shorter fermentations and the use of commercial yeasts have helped eliminate much of the VA of the past.

    Sep 14, 2012 at 11:02 AM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
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    Richard Jennings
    Thanks for answering my question in great detail. As far as mold, I was not thinking about botrytis but mold in general. Again, thanks for answering my question.

    Sep 18, 2012 at 7:43 AM

  • there are specific techniques for vinification of Amarone. The harvest is done exclusively by hand, which allows selection of healthy grapes, suitable for the subsequent drying or “appassimento”, this being another speciality of Valpolicella. The process is helped by the cool, dry breezes in this part of the country, and has ancient origins in Valpolicella. Originally, grapes were laid out on wooden floors in barns, then later hung from particular strings called "picai", next they were stretched out on mats called "arele", subsequently, they were arranged in wooden boxes and placed in specially designed drying rooms.This then being the most suitable method. “Appassimento” involves both the physical and chemical processes, as it initially involves grapes losing weight by dehydration (this varies with grape variety) followed by the formation of new compounds through concentration. Through this, both the alcohol and body structure of the wine increase, giving a longer ageing potential. Today we talk of "integrated appassimento", because, thanks to continual monitoring, we can decide whether to use outside air flowing from outsisde (when ambient conditions are optimal) or indoor programmed ventilation. The development of botrytis (the noble one! or, so called, grey botrytis) is considered very good for the grapes, as the mold is responsible for the synthesizing of glycerine, which makes the Amarone so smooth and enjoyable as no other red wine!

    Sep 18, 2012 at 8:42 AM

  • Snooth User: umairaslam
    1139811 8

    wowww Awesome containers of containers, indeed but because of the price, I eat them hardly ever. Another containers that is very identical but cheaper is the Ripasso della Valpolicella. Much less costly and not the same I know, but still a suitable vino.

    Sep 19, 2012 at 3:05 AM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 995

    umairaslam - As much as I love Amarone, the price is rapidly depleting my budget. I will have to look into the Rapasso della Valpolicella. Thanks for the tip.

    Sep 19, 2012 at 7:47 AM

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