Amarone is a rich red wine that originates from Valpolicella in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. It traditionally known for its very strong, powerful flavour, with an alcohol percentage of up to 15-16 percent.
Unsurprisingly, Amarone is a firm favourite here at Vincarta. So, we wanted to give it the spotlight it deserves. In this short guide, we’ll talk you through the history, creation and taste of a typical bottle of our favourite wine.
While our main aim is to give wine novices a flavour of Amarone’s rich history, there’s also plenty of refreshing facts for the aficionados amongst you to savour.
Amarone through the ages
It’s thought that the creation of Amarone dates back as far as Ancient Rome. Romans were particularly partial to any wine with a high alcohol content to satisfy their cravings and, as it happened, Amarone was the perfect fit.
According to legend, the wine was created accidentally, after a barrel of Recioto was neglected and left to over-ferment. When the wine maker recovered the barrel, he or she was pleasantly surprised by the dry, mellow and aromatic wine inside. And, in that moment, Amarone as we know and love it was born.
Quality and quantity
Amarone’s birthplace, Veneto, produces the largest amounts of wine across Italy, with an average of 10 million hectolitres produced each year. Although much of it is mass-market plonk, world-class Valpolicella producers like Monte dei Ragni, Novaia, Quintarelli and our friends at Piccoli produce amazing wine.
As of 2011, Amarone is classified as a DOCG wine, which means the production of the wine is closely controlled and governed. This ensures that only the best quality grapes make it into your bottle. What’s more, it also gives you the reassurance that you’re buying something that has been lovingly, professionally and meticulously created.
However, this means a good bottle of Amarone will usually set you back about £30-£50. This cost is justified when you consider the volume of grapes used during the production, as well as the time it takes to create a bottle.
From vine to Vincarta – Amarone’s epic journey
To classify as an Amarone, the wine must only include a permitted variety of grapes, the most popular being:
To turn these grapes into something more intoxicating, Amarone producers use a process known as ‘appassimento’. Through this method, the winemakers dry out the grapes for three to four months, press them slowly, and then ferment them until dry. After this, they age the wine in barrels for two to five years – depending on the required finish of the wine – and then bottled, ready to ship around the world.
The taste of Veneto in a single glass
Amarone wines are rich, vibrant, full-bodied and powerful. This is thanks to their protracted drying, fermenting and ageing process, which gives the wine a more ‘concentrated’ taste.
To give you some specific examples, here are two of our Amarone wines and their unique palette of flavours:
- 2008 Amarone della Vapiolicella Monte La Parte Selection from Piccoli This bottle has notes of ripe red and black fruit, such as black cherry, figs and plum. The flavour is further deepened with hints of chocolate, leather and tobacco from the ageing process.
- 2010 Amarone della Vapiolicella Monte La Parte Selection from Piccoli We love the concentrated aromas of dried figs, cherry, kirsch, chocolate and liquorice in this bottle.
Picking the perfect pairings
A bottle of wine is always best enjoyed with good company and even better food. We believe Amarone is decadent enough to be drank as an evening tipple (like you would a glass of port) or as an accompaniment to rich and hearty food.
If you’re keen to complement Amarone with your next meal, we have a few personal recommendations:
- Red meats, such as: steak, venison or even reindeer (if you’re brave enough!)
- Ripe cheese (such as parmesan and Gorgonzola)
- Dark and bittersweet chocolate
In other words, this wine is perfect for a ‘date night’ meal, an after-dinner cheese board or an evening of chocolate-scoffing (we promise not to judge your wine pairing choices).
Don’t just take our word for it, taste it too
For an authentic taste of one of Italy’s finest wines, why not try a bottle or two for yourself? We have two bottles of Amarone on sale in our online shop, as well as a fine selection of other Italian wines.
And, if you do decide to taste test an Amarone, let us know what you think! We’d love to hear your thoughts.