Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Amarone Families: Embracing A Legacy

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.

So how did the wines perform? They were excellent. Most of the wines showed remarkable balance, plush textures, and freshness that was almost impossible to believe (like the 1988 Speri). As for the new releases, I found the ‘08s to be smaller in scale without the rich backbone that I usually associate with Amarone. These wines would actually do well with food, where an average Amarone might overwhelm it. The ‘07s, on the other hand, are big and rich with amazing textures and detailed fruit and spice.

On to the wines:

1988 - 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella

2007 Amarone della Valpolicella

2008 Amarone della Valpolicella

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