Want to explore all about the rich, intense Amarone Della Valpolicella wine?
This dry red wine is one of those scarce collectibles that ages beautifully for decades!
What makes it so sought-after? What’s unique about its winemaking techniques?
And, which Amarone wines should you buy?
Grab your favorite wine and find out everything about Amarone Della Valpolicella - from the unique winemaking techniques, the different styles and flavors, and what makes it so expensive.
Also, discover a handpicked list of 8 unique Amarone wines you could add to your red wine collection and the smartest way to buy them!
This Article Will Cover:
- Amarone Della Valpolicella Wine
- Grapes Used To Make Amarone Della Valpolicella
- Valpolicella Regions Where Amarone Is Produced
- Amarone and Valpolicella Wine Classification
- The Taste And Characteristics Of Amarone Wine
- Amarone Della Valpolicella Wine Styles
- Unique Winemaking Methods Used to Create Amarone Della Valpolicella
- What Makes Amarone Wine Expensive?
- 8 Best Amarone Della Valpolicella Wines For 2020
- 2011 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Selezione DOCG
- 1990 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG
- 2001 Zyme La Mattonara
- 1998 Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta
- 2011 Allegrini Fieramonte
- 2007 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG
- 2008 Tommasi De-Bvris Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG
- 2011 Tedeschi La Fabriseria
Got your glass of red wine?
Let’s get started.
Amarone Della Valpolicella Wine
Amarone Della Valpolicella wine, usually called Amarone, is a rich dry Italian red wine typically made from a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella grapes in the Veneto region of Italy.
So, what’s unique about this wine?
Short answer: Amarone wine is made of dried out grapes. (We’ll tell you more about that in a bit!)
It is only produced in a small wine region between Verona and Lake Garda in Valpolicella.
Amarone directly translates to “the Great Bitter”, which was used to distinguish it from the Recioto della Valpolicella wine produced in the same region.
A Brief History: How Amarone Della Valpolicella was Created by Accident
It is said that Amarone wine was created by accident in 1936 when Adelino Lucchese (the Villa Novare winemaker) was producing Recioto wine. While bottling the sweet dessert wine, he missed one of the barrels, and it continued to age.
When Adelino realized his mistake, he feared the worst. He then called winemaker Gaetano Dall’Ora to taste the wine. To their surprise, the wine had not turned! Instead, it tasted better than either of them expected!
The wine had gained body, power, and structure without losing its original sweetness. By fermenting longer in the barrel, the sugars were transformed into alcohol creating a sweeter, richer wine.
Amarone Della Valpolicella was assigned its DOC classification in 1990. It was only in 2009, that Amarone and Recioto were both promoted to the classification of DOCG.
Grapes Used To Make Amarone Della Valpolicella Wine
There are only 12,000 acres in the world where Corvina and Corvinone grapes are grown, and they are found in Valpolicella.
Initially only Corvina (Corvina Veronese),Corvinone, and Rondinella were used to make Amarone wines. But, of late, grapes like Molinara and Oseleta have also been added to the mix in smaller quantities.
The best Valpolicella wine comes from Corvina grapes, the rarer Corvinone, and Rondinella grapes. Oseleta and Molinara are considered to be lower quality grapes due to their higher production volumes.
The Corvina grape adds to the aroma and flavors, while Corvinone contributes the color, tannin level, and the elegance of Amarone wine.
Valpolicella Regions Where Amarone Is Produced
It has three primary zones, Classico, Est, and Valpantena.
The main valleys of Valpolicella Classico stretch out of the Lessini Mountains and are known as Valpolicella traditional wine-growing regions. These regions, including vineyards like Negrar and Sant Ambrogio, are just north of Verona in the lowest foothills of the Alps. Wines from this appellation are more aromatic, softer, and fruit-forward.
The Est (meaning East) region is next to the Soave wine region. It is considered a new region for Amarone wines, and the wines produced are fresher, softer, and keep their flavors longer.
This wine region lies east of the Classico region. The wines from this area are like the Valpolicella Classico in terms of style but offer more fruit flavors and herb aromas.
The popular vineyards from the Valpantena region include Cerro Veronese and Verona.
Wine from Valpolicella is classified into five levels.
Amarone is classified as Level 4 among Valpolicella wines. Here’s what the classification looks like:
Amarone and Valpolicella Wine Classification
There are five distinct levels or tiers of Valpolicella wines:
Level 1: Valpolicella Classico DOC (11% - 12% ABV)
This wine is made under the Valpolicella DOC of the Veneto region and is considered an everyday red wine because it is produced in large quantities.
The grapes used to produce this wine are all grown in the traditional Classico zone.
Level 2: Valpolicella Superiore DOC (12% ABV)
This red wine is aged for one year in wooden barrels. Valpolicella Superiore wines are considered the more versatile wine of the Valpolicella family.
Wine producers can experiment more with this wine to bring out new flavors. They use partially dried grapes or late-harvested grapes in their blend.
Level 3: Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC (14% ABV)
Also called Ripasso della Valpolicella or Valpolicella Ripasso, this wine received its DOC status in 2009.
It goes through two fermentation processes. The first is the usual fermentation with fresh grapes. Later on, it is mixed with Amarone grape skins and solids (known as Ripasso). The second fermentation process is what gives the wine its color, alcohol levels, and texture.
Level 4: Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG (14% - 16% ABV)
Amarone wine is made with grapes from Valpolicella that have been dried for 4-5 months. Drying the grapes removes the water and concentrates the sugars.
The Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG wine is aged for 2-5 years before being released.
Level 5: Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG (12% ABV)
This is the perfect dessert wine! It is extremely concentrated and made with the same grapes and process as Amarone. Instead, fermentation is stopped before completion to leave residual sugar in the wine.
The Taste And Characteristics Of Amarone Wine
You can expect high acidity and bold aromas of black fig, cherry liqueur, black cherry, cinnamon, mature fruit, and plum sauce. There’ll also be notes of chocolate, crushed gravel dust, and green peppercorn on the palate.
The older Amarone wines offer more flavors of brown sugar, fig, and molasses.
This wine also has a touch of natural residual sugar. This residual sugar complements the naturally high acid levels and adds to its boldness.
Tasting Amarone wine is an experience every wine lover needs to get!
Sip this wine in an oversized wine glass to collect all the delightful aromas. Serve young Amarone wines at room temperature and older wines at slightly cooler temperatures.
Amarone Wine Characteristics
- Body: Full bodied red wine
- Tannins: Firm Tannins
- Alcohol by Volume (ABV): Minimum 14%, usually between 15% and 16%
- Residual Sugar: Maximum 0.9% for a 14% ABV, to about 1.2% for higher ABV.
- Acidity: High Acidity
Amarone Della Valpolicella Wine Styles
You can find three distinct styles of Amarone Della Valpolicella.
Amarone Normale needs to be aged for a minimum of two years in an oak barrel. This wine is meant to be opened 10 years after its release.
Amarone Riserva needs to be aged for a minimum of four years in French, American, or Slavonian oak.
Some wineries, such as Zenato, prefer using Slavonian oak casks over French barriques. Aging wine in Slavonian oak is more gentle and allows for a longer lifespan and more prominent flavors.
The grapes used for Amarone Della Valpolicella Riserva are harvested in smaller batches and given some additional time to age. Amarone Riserva can age well for up to 20 years or more.
Recioto della Valpolicella wine is on the sweeter side, more concentrated, and longer-lived than Amarone wine.
When choosing an Amarone for any occasion, it is good to know the methodology used to produce them.
Unique Winemaking Methods Used to Create Amarone Della Valpolicella
Wineries use the Appassimento winemaking methods to produce Amarone wine.
Appassimento is the original method used for the grape drying process. The dried-out grapes are then pressed and fermented.
With modern technology, however, two new styles have emerged that decide the taste and longevity of the wine.
1. Traditional Winemaking Method
Wineries like Bertani and Quintarelli use the traditional method to dry the grapes and then ferment them in chestnut or oak barrels. In this method, producers use Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella grapes in their blend.
When made using this method, the Amarone della Valpolicella wine has high acidity levels giving it great aging potential.
This method brings out flavors of red cherry, cinnamon, and green peppercorn.
Amarone produced from traditional methods could last easily up to 40 years. When you open the bottle, decant the wine for a couple of hours before serving.
2. Modern Winemaking Method
Winemakers like Masi and Allegrini use the more modern approach of quickly drying the grapes in humidity and temperature-controlled rooms. They then age their Amarone wine in new oak barrels.
Amarone wines from this method are bolder on release because of the new oak aging. The new oak aging also adds flavors of cherry liqueur, chocolate, molasses, and vanilla.
Some wineries also add non-regional grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese grapes to the blend.
Some of the wines produced using this method only last 8 - 10 years, while others might last for 20 years or more.
What Makes Amarone Wine Expensive?
The high price tag for a bottle of Amarone is primarily due to its scarcity and the unique, time-consuming winemaking process.
When it comes to producing Valpolicella Classico, the grapes are harvested and immediately crushed and fermented. But, the grapes used to produce Amarone wine go through a longer journey until it is a finished product.
- Most wineries select the more mature, finest bunches for this wine.
- The grapes are also left a bit longer on the vine to make sure they have fully ripened.
- It takes at least 120 days for the grapes to dry out and turn into raisins. During this time, around 30-40% of the juice and weight is lost.
- The grapes are then blended and slowly pressed and fermented. This slow process is what gives the Amarone wine an intense concentration and remarkably high sugar content. The resulting wine has a high alcohol content and a deeper color.
To help you choose a bottle of Amarone, we’ve handpicked eight of the best ones!
8 Best Amarone Della Valpolicella Wines For 2020
Here are the most sought-after bottles of Amarone for you to try:
1. 2011 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Selezione DOCG
This Amarone Classico della Valpolicella is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It was created by Giuseppe Quintarelli in the hillside vineyards located in Negrar.
The nose opens with aromas of cocoa and liquorice, and it is enhanced with fruity notes of glazed cherries and black plum.
Price of a 2011 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Selezione DOCG: $1431
2. 1990 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG
This vintage was originally labeled as “Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore Riserva”; however, it has since been changed to “Riserva Centenario.”
Opening this bottle of Amarone will release aromas of sour cherry, vanilla, ripe fruit, and complex flower notes. When it comes to taste, this wine has flavors of sweet young cherries, with strong tannins and an amazing long finish.
The acidity in this wine keeps the sweetness in check and lets you experience a perfectly balanced wine.
Price of a 1990 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG: $1342
3. 2001 Zyme La Mattonara
Corvina, Corvinone, Croatina, Oseleta, and Rondinella grapes are used to make this Amarone wine. These grapes were handpicked from the older vineyard in San Pietro in Cariano. Hence this wine was only made in limited quantities.
It has notes of cherry preserves, cinnamon, tobacco leaf, spice, and whisky.
Price of a 2001 Zyme La Mattonara: $549
4. 1998 Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta
This pitch-black Amarone bursts with flavors and aromas, including black fruit, espresso bean, exotic spice, mocha, raisin, and vanilla.
It is a full bodied red wine with firm, refined tannins that carry you through to a long finish.
Price of a 1998 Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta: $489
5. 2011 Allegrini Fieramonte
The 2011 Allegrini Fieramonte is a bright ruby red wine, with plenty of lively highlights.
It has aromas of dried fruit, plum preserve, and exotic spices. The full bodied wine has tasting notes of clove, crushed alpine herb, ground pepper, and prune.
This wine has no noticeable sugars, but it does have velvety tannins that caress your palate. The tannins are accompanied by vibrant acidity that lengthens and slows the mouthfeel.
Price of a 2011 Allegrini Fieramonte: $280
6. 2007 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG
This Amarone wine is a bright red wine, with an orange rim. While you sip on this silky-textured wine, you will notice a near-perfect balance between the acidity and the tannins.
This wine’s flavor and aroma will remind you of aromatic herbs, crushed flowers, dried red cherry, liquorice, minerals, raspberry, and sweet spices.
Price of a 2007 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG: $351
7. 2008 Tommasi De-Bvris Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG
This elegant Amarone opens on the nose with aromas of carob, liquorice candy, and leather.
This full bodied Amarone has soft tannins that are fully resolved now with a harmonious and durable finish.
Price of a 2008 Tommasi De-Bvris Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG: $266
8. 2011 Tedeschi La Fabriseria
The 2011 Tedeschi La Fabriseria is a bright, deep ruby red wine. It has aromas of baking chocolate, black cherry, and clove.
This medium to full bodied wine has an intense concentration, high acidity levels, and medium tannin levels. You can open this wine up now, but it will also be perfect in 10-12 years.
Price of a 2011 Tedeschi La Fabriseria: $221
Now that you’ve discovered all there is to know about Amarone della Valpolicella, it is time to get a bottle of your own to enjoy.
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