Amarone, or less succinctly, Amarone della Valpolicella, is a wine from the northern Italian region of Veneto comprised most commonly of (the grapes) Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, although some other indigenous grape varieties from the region (such as Corvinone, Oseleta and Croatina) do find themselves in the mix, as it were.
The process, known as appassimento or rasinate, begins when grapes are harvested at maximum ripeness during the first fourteen days of October, and laid out in bunches (not touching each other) to dry out, usually in the sun on flat, wicker mats. Modern Amarone production involves special drying chambers that dry the grapes out under specific conditions. The pomace (solid grape remains left after crushing) is then saved to use in the making of Ripasso Valpolicella.
Generally the drying of the grapes goes on for up to 4 months, yet this can vary by the producer and/or the results of any given harvest. Once the drying is complete, crush occurs and the wine undergoes low temperature fermentation, which could potentially lead to spoilage or highly volatile acidity if not properly regulated. Upon completion of fermentation, the wine is aged in oak barriques.
The final product is a rich, dense and full-bodied wine that has low acidity and usually high alcohol. Amarone producers usually do not release the wines until they’ve seen several years of bottle age, though that is not legally required. These wines are truly exceptional, and a few of our favorites are listed below:
By Kevin Keith
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