Valpolicella Amarone has a quite a fan base. On the wine courses I run it is often mentioned as a favourite red wine and is bracketed with Argentinian Malbec, Australian Shiraz and Zinfandel as a ‘go to’ red for many people. However, I have to admit that these wines are not the first ones I think of for my favourite tipple. But, should I be wary of over-generalising in my thinking of them all as big, highly alcoholic and slightly sweet. Sunday was a chance to critically taste an Amarone, something I’d not consciously done before. Will I be tempted away from my preference for lighter Pinot Noirs, Syrahs and Cabernet Francs?
Domini Veneti Vigneti de Jago 2004 Amarone della Valpolicella – to give it its grand title – is made from Corvina grape berries that have been dried, fermented slowly and the resulting wine kept in oak. The results are below.
The colour was intense with a slight brick red rim and had an opaque quality (sediment haze?). The aromas were deep, rather menthol/herbal but with a pleasing, uplifting acidity which prevented it from appearing overly stewed. The primary fruit flavours were damsons. The taste was certainly dry and long with a weighty mouthfeel, all the characteristics one would expect from the style. There was an alluring complexity of bramble fruits and tar but, for me, it lacked the freshness that I like in lighter styles. “A lot going on” was our summing up of this wine.
Would I buy one? Probably not, but I can see its attraction, especially to accompany some big flavoured food and cheese. As Dean Martin crooned “When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine – that’s Amarone”. It probably was.
[Richard, this was a (generous) Christmas present, I think from Laithwaites, where it is now sold out. Like Geoff, not a wine I’d normally buy, although it was much better than expected and is clearly a well made example of the style. I’ve still got most of the bottle left, under a vacuum seal, to retry at the weekend.
Ten days on, I’d had a couple of small glasses but couldn’t see myself finishing the bottle so it went into a pork/beef ragu – recipe from Rachel Roddy’s excellent book on Roman cooking. Delicious.]