Understanding Amarone

Exploring Italy’s misunderstood masterpiece.

While climate change is certainly culpable here, so are, once again, the critics as well as the wine buying public. You can’t fault producer for making a wine that is easy to sell and time has shown that a large portion of the buying public like the fruitiness, richness, and softness that residual sugar imparts to a wine. It's not where my palate lies, nor is it where great Amarone lies, though critical acclaim might dispute that assertion. Residual sugar is one of the final details that both distinguishes Amarone, and raises the ire of many a producer. As a response to change it is fully understandable, though the few producers who strive for dryness in their wines might disagree. I tend to come down on their side of the discussion, preferring a dry Amarone that has had its alcohol managed in the vineyard and not the cellar, but I fear that I may be in the minority here. 
Amarone should be a great wine. one that is complex and nuanced, and age worthy. The global push for immediate satisfaction does not support this style of wine and that is a shame. Seeing them slip away, as is the case with many great wines, saddens me. A final point of contention is yet another symptom of this trend. Wines that are bottled after minimal ageing. I really shouldn’t protest on this point for it is both a business decision as well as a stylistic one and I am of the thousand flower frame of mind. Yett still, I compare wines that have spent more time in the cellar, often in bottle as well as cask, and can’t help but notice what benefits time confers on those that wait.
Amarone is a wine we should wait for, and waiting for winter to come around is not exactlynwhat I'm talking about.  The great examples from Bertani demand waiting, often for decades, which is understandably impractical. though Bertani does have an amazing selection of mature, back vintage wines on sale at any given time. It is a historic wine, somewhat anachronistic, but capable of such beauty that it is invariably worth the wait. For those who  favor immediacy, there is much to chose from, and even in Amarone I can see the need for a market segment that allows for this early exploration. I just hope we don’t see an ever increasing share of the production headed down this path. Amarone is a great wine worthy of your attention. The final obstacle in the enjoyment of Amarone is the price. These are not inexpensive by any means, Quite the opposite in fact, best served perhaps with cheese in the company of others. Share the cost of a few bottles with your wine loving friends and explore Amarone today. There is so much going on that it’s a surprisingly dynamic and exciting slice of the wine market. All too often ignored, until winter rolls around. 
The wines that follow are listed in order of the visits to the wineries, and then in order of service at each winery. Additional wines were tried at many properties including Valpolicella, Recioto, and white wines, all of which will be included in follow up articles.
Three years in botte then one in bottle
Fine bitter black nose, soil driven with old wood framing items, lots of medicinal licorice, a little orange peel, and almost minty character. Big on entry with lots of dry extract, you can feel this wine, though there are great acids and lovely soft supporting tannins supporting the masses of dark fruit that shows melted licorice and chocolate streaks to it. Laced with bitter cherry skins and a little mineral notes on the finish. finely textured if a bit chewy, this holds its alcohol very well. 90pts
Dark rich and spicy on a nose filled with macerated herbs, mint, licorice,a little VA. In the mouth this is a big wine, bright and juicy on the palate, still fairly closed but you can sense the wild berry fruit with hints of pomegranate, chocolate, and those macerated herbs from the nose.  Tannic and powerful on the palate and through the chocolate covered cherry finish, which is a bit clipped, still this remains fairly elegant for a wine of the size and nicely dry. 92pts

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Top 10 Amarone tasted 11/13

Tommaso Bussola Amarone Vigneto Alto (2007)
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Tommaso Bussola Amarone Tb (2007)
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Speri Amarone (2009)
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Tedeschi 'Amarone' Classico (2008)
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Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 6 Flaschen In Original-Holzkiste Bertani Grezzana Venetien (2001)
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Tommaso Bussola Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto Alto Tb (2007)
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Masi Vaio Amaron (2007)
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Tommasi Amarone Ca Florian (2007)
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Le Ragose Amarone (2006)
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Tedeschi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico (2009)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Where could I find some of these Amarone in Madrid?

    Feb 05, 2014 at 4:48 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 201,348

    It may be a challenge but places like

    16 Calle Jose Ortega y Gasset, Madrid 28006

    Bodega Santa ecilia
    74 Blasco Garay, Primera planta, Madrid 28015


    Enoteca barlo
    211 Calle del Principe de Vergara, Madrid 28002

    Are all good places to start!

    Feb 05, 2014 at 2:37 PM

  • Snooth User: Barrique
    192331 1

    This is great article and well written, which is very informative. Thanks!

    Feb 05, 2014 at 4:52 PM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 995

    Excellent Article. Great information. I learned a lot.

    Feb 06, 2014 at 12:28 PM

  • The article is really good. But the taste is subject to this critic: to compare the different Amarone yuo have to taste bottles of the same age, for example there is non mention of Allegrini Amarone classico 2007 while this havest in considered for other brands. I've choosen this brand because it has usually a great quality/price rate (in Italy). The comparison, e.g., between Amarone Allegrini 2008 and Amarone Masi 2001, putting them in the same classification, in my thought is uncorrect

    Feb 07, 2014 at 10:36 AM

  • Makes one wonder if other varietals like merlot or zin could be dried out like the amarone process to see what happens in intensity. It's probably been done somewhere

    Feb 13, 2014 at 5:29 PM

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