“Wine tasting is about opening up to the unknown, interpreting it according to your taste and, above all, understanding it through every one of the senses. Basically, having fun.”
Amarone is probably the wine that best represents the excellence of our region, Valpolicella. The hills, the colors of the lake, the breeze and the beautiful mountains all come together in a glass of Amarone to make it a true celebrity known for its unique characteristics. Let’s get to know it a bit better!
The land of Amarone: Valpolicella
Not too far from the ColorHotel, we find the hills and valleys that make up the region of Valpolicella, which stretches from Lake Garda to the province of Vicenza.
Depending on the exact area, there are two different Valpolicella regions: the classic region and the extended region. The classic Valpolicella region is centred on the province of Verona, with selected production centres such as San Pietro in Cariano, Fumane, Negrar and Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella. The extended Valpolicella, on the other hand, includes the most westerly part, beyond Valpantena, as well as the valleys of Marcellise, Mezzane, Illasi and Tramigna, closer to the Lessini Mountains. This is the region where Amarone is produced.
The History of Amarone
Amarone is well known all over the world and, like so many great inventions, was discovered by accident. In 1936, a careless winemaker forgot to close a barrel of sweet Recioto that was in the cellar. After a while, when the barrel was retrieved, the fermentation had proceeded to turn all of the sugars into alcohol. It was no longer a sweet wine, but it wasn’t bitter either. It was Amarone – a new wine, born from a sweet wine made by Cantina Sociale Valpolicella ad Arbizzano.
Amarone: grapes, drying process and production
Amarone is the son of Recioto and, as a result, both wines are made in the same production area and use the same grapes. Amarone is made using Corvina and Rondinella grapes: the first gives it its color, character and roundness, whilst the second gives it a tangy taste and solid structure.
But when we’re talking about Amarone, we can’t ignore the critical step: the drying process.
The drying process is when the grapes harvested in October are carefully selected according to their quality and full ripeness before being left to rest on arele – bamboo racks that are positioned in protected areas in the hills.
The hills are the perfect place to allow the water in the grapes to evaporate, particularly because of the low temperatures, good ventilation and low humidity. Over the course of the drying process, the grapes lose 30-50% of their initial weight, concentrating the aromas, colors and taste, as well as adding roundness, complexity and aromatic intensity. During this stage, the grapes also acquire a fungus, Botrytis cinerea, which adds profound sensations in the glass.
The following February (already 4 months since the harvest), the grapes are pressed and left to ferment for a long time. Only in September is the wine put into oak barrels to mature for many years and then for decades in bottles.
Colors, aromas, taste and balance
As a result of this long exposure time, the wine changes from a ruby red to an intense garnet, enriching itself with a notable structure and consistency.
The taste of Amarone is intense, floral and fruity, with hints of violet, red jam, cherries macerated in spirits and dried fruits. Over time, it releases spicy scents, tobacco aromas and hints of liquorice. It always has a full and warm taste, and whilst the tannins are never too powerful, they are present in an elegant and balanced way.
Amarone is a wine that lasts long in the mouth, perfect with a risotto all’Amarone, cold cuts and cheeses or braised meats and game. However, it is also ideal for enjoying on its own. To enjoy it at its best, it’s a good idea to open the bottle and leave it to oxygenate a few hours beforehand and serve in a large glass at a temperature of around 18-20 °C.
Tasting at the ColorHotel: La Cantina del Gusto
At La Cantina del Gusto (our tasting cellar), we keep many labels, organised by producer, region and vintage. Come and find us: it will be the perfect opportunity to discover and appreciate some of the best wines that Valpolicella has to offer! I will be here to welcome you, and I can’t wait to tell you more about this wine and let you taste our selection.