Eric Guido

Location: Ridgewood, NY

http://theviptable.blogspot.com/
Food and Wine Writer for Snooth Media, Chef, Musician, Poet, Wine Lover, and Workaholic. Owner, Chef and Writer for The V.I.P. Table.

Amarone Families: The best of the best

Autumn is here, and what better way to welcome it in than with a tasting of Amarone. Not just any Amarone either; this tasting included the top names in the industry, and each provided two bottles to showcase their new releases, as well as a library wine that would show how well Amarone ages. You heard me right; Amarone can age, and the results can be a truly beautiful thing.

 

The problem with aged Amarone is that it’s so hard to keep yourself from enjoying them in their youth. Only a few people ever put them away in the cellar for future exploration. I’ve had but a few in my time, and each experience was memorable to say the least. So imagine my delight when I was told that this tasting would include Amarone going back to 1988.

 

The hosts behind this tasting were a group of Amarone producers calling themselves “Amarone Families” or “Famiglie Dell’Amarone d’Arte.” Their mission is to show the differences in quality between an artisanal Amarone and one that is made in a mass-produced style. The fact is that the process for creating Amarone is being copied around the globe, as well as being done in mass throughout the Veneto. I remember when I first started getting into Italian wine, and a trusted retailer explained that you should expect a good Amarone to cost no less than $35 (that was eight years ago), the reason being the process that it takes to make this amazing wine. Imagine making wine from grapes that have been dried to the point of almost being raisins. Imagine the amount of grapes you need to make one bottle of wine. The numbers add up. I found this to be even more humorous as I received an e-mail today for a $24 Amarone.

 

What follows is my list of the best of the best, of Amarone Families.

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Begali Monte Ca Bianca Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico (2004)
Comments: Dark chocolate and was prominent on the nose, followed by black cherry, herbs and a hint of orange zest. On the palate, it was tart and muscular yet focused with its red fruits. The finish showed floral notes with intense cherry that saturated the palate. This is a wine for the cellar and should reward 5 – 10 years of patience. (92 points)
Previously available for $71.16
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2 Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Ca' Florian (2001)
Comments: The nose was earthy, sweet and rich with notes of tobacco, fall leaves, dried cherry and fresh soil. On the palate, it was elegant yet juicy, showing ripe cherry, spices and hints of herbs. The finish was long and saturating yet refreshingly so. (92 points)
Previously available for $62.99
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3 Capitel Amarone Classico DOC Vigneto Monte Olmi (2003)
Comments: The nose was dark and rich, showing crushed cherry, earthy minerals and sweet floral notes. On the palate, it was velvety, but not heavy, with intense black cherry extract, chocolate and hints of pepper. The long sweet-and-sour finish lingered for over a minute with flavors of cherry sauce and spice. (93 points)
Previously available for $74.99
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4 Nicolis Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Ambrosan (2000)
Comments: The nose was dark and intense with dried cherry, sweet floral notes and balsamic tones. On the palate, it was rich with velvety textures, showing dried black cherry with a sweet-and-sour quality which lasted into the long finish with notes of dark chocolate, cinnamon and cherry liquor. (93 points)
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5 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato Riserva (1998)
Comments: The nose showed dark, sweet cherry, floral perfumes, and a hint of burnt sugar. On the palate, it showed an almost syrupy consistency with textures morphing between richness and juicy acidity. Cherry sauce and spice dominated in this velvety Amarone that closed in a long, palate-staining finish. (93 points)
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6 Masi Mazzano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico (1990)
Comments: The nose was earthy and dark yet remained rich and sweet with crushed fall leaves and dried cherry. On the palate, it was finessed and graceful showing spiced red fruits. The finish was long and fresh with flavors of cherry and minerals. (93 points)
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7 Allegrini Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Proprietary Red (1995)
Comments: The nose showed crushed, dried flowers, dried black cherry and minerals. With time in the glass, the bouquet expanded and sweetened. On the palate, it was velvety smooth and youthful with dark chocolate, rich black cherry and hints of earthy minerals. The long finish showed bitter cherry and licorice, which seemed to slowly melt away from the palate. (95 points)
Average price: $130.50 from 2 stores
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8 Speri Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Monte San Urbano (1988)
Comments: The 1988 Speri was perfectly matured, showing black cherry, nutmeg, dark soil tones and a hint of manure. On the palate, it was silky, juicy and remarkably youthful with lively red fruits and spice notes. The finish was smooth with lingering flavors of spiced cherry and dark chocolate. (95 points)
Average price: $276.00 from 1 store
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