There I was tasting some wines and offering my lay opinions at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan, which sometimes seems to be my home away from home. I was getting ready to leave and then a couple of Amarone wines were brought out for tasting. You know that they really had to twist my arm and apply a lot of pressure to have me taste some wines. I may not be the greatest wine blogger, but I have a good idea that anyone reading this, has an interest in wine.
All Amarone wines are from the most famous red wine district in Italy’s Veneto wine region Valpolicella. In the late Sixties, the region was granted DOC status and the region has experienced a see-saw growth in popularity and demand, and quality at times also experienced the same ups and downs. Some wags have even gone as far as to call Valpolicella the Beaujolais of Italy, because of the trials and tribulations that the region has gone through in the thirty to forty years after the DOC status. The wines were popular, because they were very easy drinking and, in the summer, they were enjoyed slightly chilled. The big surge in demand and respect came with the growth and acceptance of Amarone and Ripasso wines. Amarone della Valpolicella is made from dried (passito)grapes. Originally the grapes were dried on straw mats, but modern technology has created special drying rooms and apparatus to achieve this goal now. The dried grapes are gently pressed and this special must (juice) is fermented to a dry wine. The high sugar content creates wines with a higher proof of 15 to 16. Then the wine is aged in barrels for at least two years. The creation of Amarone wines also created a secondary wine product called Valpolicella Ripasso, where the dried skins and wine go through a secondary fermentation and this has been given DOC status, in 2007 as well.
The first wine was Fratelli Vogadori Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2016. Their website seemed to stress hotel accommodations and little about the winery. The grapes are hand harvested in boxes and allowed to naturally dry in a drying room. The wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Negrara. The fermentation takes place in Stainless Steel and takes about fifty days. The wine is then aged in French Oak for twenty-four months and then an additional twelve months in the bottle before distribution. The wine is a pretty dark ruby red with notes of raisins, cherries and spices, and a rich complex taste and I would describe it as velvety with a nice finish. The second wine that we had was Azienda Agricola Musella Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG 2013. This winery appears to be rather new and they mention that they have three vineyards and hotel accommodations. The first year of production is 2006, and this wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta. The fruit is harvested from a vineyard of twenty-seven hectares of predominately iron red clay. The fruit was dried in a special drying room and then a soft pressing and fermentation is done over a period of four days. The wine is aged for twelve months in French Oak in several assorted sized and after bottling remains another eight months before distribution. This wine had a beautiful ruby color, with notes of raisins and spices, on the palate, it had more layers of complexity, that I attribute to the additional age and a beautiful lingering finish. I very seldom encounter people that don’t appreciate an Amarone wine.