In this two part series we take an in-depth look at Amarone wines. This first part looks at what makes these wines so special (and expensive!) to wine enthusiasts. The second part – which will be posted in a few days – features a very well known producer of beautiful Amarone wines, Masi Agricola, which Adriatic is proud to bring to South African wine lovers.
Its full name is Amarone della Valpolicella, but many simply refer to it as Amarone since it needs no further introduction.
In the picturesque hills of the Valpolicella region near Verona, the grape varietals Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara are used in the production of various Valpolicella wines: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso and, of course, Amarone della Valpolicella; the last being of the highest quality.
To produce the Amarone wine, the grapes are harvested late (in the middle of October) to ensure optimum ripeness and sweetness. Usually grapes from more mature vines are selected.
Grapes are left to dry and shrivel in temperature-controlled drying chambers in order to prevent the onset of Botrytis. The drying process, which lasts over the entire Winter period, concentrates the juices in the grape, reduces acid and increases skin contact with the juice. The quality of the skin of the grapes is of utmost importance: it plays a role in the colouring, flavour and tannin structure of the wine.
What results is a rich, dry exceptionally well-balanced red wine. The drying process is very important because it balances the flavour of the wine, however, it also reduces the amount of juice that is available in each grape by about half; therefore as much as double the amount of grapes must be used to produce the same amount of wine. The extensive process used to make this wine and the necessity of utilizing more fruit increases the price of Amarone wines. But it is worth it when you taste them.
Look out for our next post in which we explore the taste profile of on of the world’s most renowned Amarone wines from Masi Agricola.