The production of Amarone della Valpolicella has exploded in the last decade or so as wine lovers the world over are falling head-over-heals for this opulent, flavourful, high-alcohol red wine. Apparently Canadians are at the top of that list, importing more Amarone than anywhere else, including the US, Switzerland, the UK, and Germany (according to decanter.com). To find out more about the production of Amarone, please read my article “Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG – One of Italy’s Greatest Reds” on suite 101.com.
In 2009, ten quality-minded and dedicated producers of Amarone joined together to form the “Amarone Families” or the “Famiglie dell’ Amarone d’Arte”. The goal of this association is to establish fundamental guidelines in the making of one of Italy’s most iconic wines. The families are especially focused on exported Amarone since about 70% of Amarone is exported to countries around the world. The families are concerned that some Amarone is being diluted by overproduction, driving down prices and quality, and that there is disregard for those areas that are best suited for the production of Amarone.
There are now twelve families in the association dedicated to protect the quality of Amarone (and all the wines of Valpolicella) and to promote these iconic wines on the world stage. They have pledged to uphold premium quality winemaking practices and to protect Amarone as one of the classic red wines of Italy.
The association has come up with a set of extra regulations in addition to the regulations required for DOCG status, including:
- minimum 15% alcohol (instead of 14% in DOCG regulations)
- minimum 30 months aging from December 1st of the year of the harvest (compared to 24 months in DOCG regulations)
- opportunity to declassify Amarone if the vintage is poor
- Brigaldara (website in Italian only)
- Tenuta Sant’Antonio
In early October, the Amarone Families conducted a tasting in Toronto of some of their wines with vintages ranging from 1997 to 2006. This tasting was one of the few opportunities I’ve had to taste older Amarone and I have to say that I really loved the complexity and balance of these more mature wines. After tasting the older vintages, the younger wines seemed almost harsh and bitter in comparison. Note to self – “Leave those bottles of Amarone in the cellar a while longer.”
Here are the tasting notes of some of my favourites of the event:
Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006: Aromas of rich plum and dark berries, red cherry, violets, and mace. Full-bodied and opulent with an abundance of dark fruit flavours, well-integrated tannins and a long length.
Lorenzo Begali Monet Ca’ Bianca Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997: Complex aromas of leather, prunes, black licorice, dried cherries, and potpourri. The soft and silky texture is truly amazing with flavours of dried berries and leather.
Masi Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004: Lots of red and dark fruit aromas with a chocolatey note. Full-bodied with mouthwatering acidity and juicy, ripe dark berry fruit and baking spices. Juicy and delicious.
Musella Amarone della Valpolicella 1999: Intoxicating aromas of leather, cedar, forest floor, dried fruit, and dried flowers. The tannins are silky and soft and there is a hint of cherry flavoured cigars on the palate. A long finish.
Speri Vigneto Monte Sant’Urbano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997: Mature aromas of leather, dried soil, dried cherries, and coffee grounds are dominant. The slightly tart acidity cleanses the palate. A well-balanced wine with a long finish.
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Selezione Antonio Castagnedi Amarone della Valpolicella 2006: Loads of ripe red and dark fruit and spice. The tannins are well-integrated and the length is long. A velvetty, easy drinking Amarone.
Tommasi Vigneto Ca’ Florian Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998: Showing aromas of leather, cedar, dried flowers, dried cherries and other dried berries. Drinking beautifully with a silky, juicy texture and a long finish.
Venturini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006: Very fruit-forward with red cherry and other fresh red fruit, dark plum, and blueberry. Concentrated and lush, balanced and approachable.
Venturini Campomasua Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2003: Aromas of dried fruit including prunes and dried blueberries with a touch of leather. Drinking well now with dried dark fruit and a touch of spice on the palate. Balanced with a long finish.
Sergio Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Reserva 1998: Complex and intoxicating aromas of leather, chocolate, mocha, prunes, dried fruit, and an animal note. Lots of baking spices and dried fruit on the palate. Sensual and silky.
Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006: Lots of plum, dark fruit, black cherry, and spice aromas. Full-bodied and rich with a luxurious texture. Delicious!