Rich's Amarone Tasting

January 16, 2003

Amarone is made in the ancient wine-making method called “appassimento” (drying of the grapes). Traditionally, once the wine is made, it is filtered, bottled and aged for at least six months prior to its release. This 1997 Amarone Classico Della Valpolicella was then aged for approximately three years in barrels, and several more months in the bottle before release. Amarone has been produced in Valpolicella since the Roman era, under a variety of names. When Venice was a Republic, the wine was proudly referred to as “wine of the Doges.” The term “Amarone” was not used until the 18th Century, and until the 19th Century, the wine was unknown in most parts of Europe and the Americas. Once reserved for kings and noblemen, Amarone is a massive wine, powerful yet graceful. It’s ideal to pair with red meats, game, and rich cheeses. It is also a perfect after-dinner wine. For best results, open the wine approximately one hour before serving to allow it to breathe, and serve at room temperature. Trader Joe's FEARLESS FLYER

All wines bought from K&L Wines the day of the tasting. All were opened two hours before the tasting and two were double-decanted because they were so closed.

Don't miss a few of the new words to enter the Winos lexicon! "Wine jerky," "hairspray" and "sweaty" (ewwww....!!)

(Wines of the tasting are listed in order of price.)

K&L says.... Winos say...

2000 Cascina Santuario Barbera d'Asti (warmup wine)
Item: $11.99

An amazing Barbera, it feels and tastes almost like Amarone, rich, hugely fleshy, chocolatey, lush on the palate but not alcoholic or over the top. Stunning wine.

Neither stunning nor amazing, but it was pretty good. Ron found this at the Berkeley Bowl for 8 bucks a bottle and offered to buy some for whomever wanted more.

1997 Amarone Classico D.O.C. Conte di Bregonzo

We first introduced this wine last year, and it virtually flew off our shelves. You just couldn’t get enough! Well, since our job is to make you happy, we went back to the winery and bought everything they had left, and we’re offering this outstanding wine for just $9.99. 750 ml. 5,000 cases. At the last minute, we were also able to get our hands on about 2,500 cases of the 1998 vintage of this fantastic wine. It has all of the full-boded flavor of the ’97 - in fact, in a blind tasting, few on our panel could tell the two wines apart. We’re also selling Amarone 1998 for $9.99. 750 ml

5th place. Thin, tinny, asprin, sulfery, warm, smiley, v v + , stinky, sour, baby diaper, acid, nice fruit, supertannic

1999 Corte Sant'Alda Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso
Item: $22.99

88 Points Robert Parker 2 Glasses in the Gambero Rosso Blackberries, herbs, cinnamon and spice all fill the nose of this gorgeous Ripasso richness gives the wine some of the character of the Amarone but with easier drinkability. Great balance

4th place. leather, dusty, skins, clean, deep layers, sour, simple, frowny face, v - - , ok, sour, lactic, fruit, no sugar, med. tannic, light fruit

1997 Corteforte Amarone
Item: $32.99

Amarone is one of those mysterious wines whose origin and methodology seems shrouded in dark, closely guarded peasant traditions. Where they only show it to their friends and not everybody gets to try it. The Corteforte winery sits beneath the Enoteca della Valpolicella high in the hills above Verona in Fumane where you can sample the regions best wines and food. Here they shine a big bright light on the wine and food and boy does it sing. Power, extraction, supple, rich, concentrated, plums, raisins, spice and a finish that just goes on and on. Do we like this wine? You guessed it.

6th place. portish, smooth, too sweet, simple, sour, astringint, salty, floral, hairspray, tounge itches, watery, grapey, raisin, vegetal nose

1997 Novaia Amarone
Item: $34.99

Novaia was a new producer for me and I was really surprised at the depth, richness and structure. This Amarone is serious, dense, compact, powerful with great length. It doesn't have the pruney character that some Amarone get, it is just pure, dark chocolate richness.

1rst place! velvet to dusty, long finish, dynamite nose, full but light, complex, smokey, vegetal finish, no finish, sour, very cab, hot, intense, liccorice

1997 Musella Amarone
Item: $43.99

Musella produces a wine that is decidedly complex, highlighted by sweet smelling aromas of minerals, smoke, raw meat, tobacco and dried red fruits. They are looking to make a wine that has Amarone like character yet has no residual sweetness, something like claret styled Amarone. Silky-smooth and dense but includes layers of bright, ripe cherries flavor and finishes with a long focused finish with hints of dried fruits and smoke.

2nd place. Great Zin nose, hot, rough, simple, tannic, spicy cinnamon, closed, smokey, chocolate, jammy, raisin, sweaty

1998 Allegrini Amarone
Item: $56.99

3 Bicchieri Gambero Rosso A red wine of some importance. It is full bodied, intense and elegant. The name Amarone comes from the eighteenth century when the producer had to identify wines made from dried grapes like Recioto but with completely different organoleptic characteristics. GRAPE VARIETES 75% Corvina Veronese, 20% Rondinella, 5% Molinara.

3rd place. Smooth and balanced, smokey, meaty, dusty, raisin, thick and rich, dry, chunky, earthy, dark, sweet, "wine jerky" salty, good wine, vanilla, rich mouth