Amarone, the heavyweight wine of Veneto, has recently (2010) been upgraded to the top category DOCG of Italy. So popular during the 60’s and 70’s, it lost its share of the spotlight to Super Tuscans, Brunello di Montalcino and Barolo during the 80’s and 90’s. Amarone seems to be making a comeback with expected rich, powerful wines brimming with character.
At Les Conseillers du Vin we decided to revisit this prestigious appellation to verify how it has evolved. As usual a group of 16 experienced tasters analysed eight (8) Amarone wines in a blind tasting. Rediscovering this raisiny, concentrated, powerful Amarone della Valpolicella was quite fascinating. It seemed obvious that the overall quality level is much higher today. Problems of volatile acidity and funky animal scents seem to be under control. Surely the appassimento method of drying the grapes is also under better control. This selection of reputed producers confirmed the very high quality level and aging potential of this forgotten Venetian blockbuster. Its new status as a DOCG wine begins with the 2010 harvest. Many of these wines should be released and on our store shelves this year. In the near future Amarone should be getting more recognition and make its way back up to the top of the pyramid of fine Italian wine.
To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were given to a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
Order of tasting:
Amarone Lena di Mezzo 2009 Monte del Fra $49.95 LCBO (Group score: 15 pts)
Medium coloured. Some licorice, earthy tones and graphite on the nose. Quite rich, almost sweet, full bodied but not powerful. Solid tannins give it structure and potential (3 to 5 yers) A very well balanced Amarone. My rating: 92+
Amarone Ambrosan 2006, Nicolis $70.25 00896860 (Group score: 20 pts)
Deeply coloured, purple/black. Complex nose with some cola and chocolate. Powerful, lots of weight. Solid, concentrated effort. Still lots of aging potential (5 to 8 years). My rating: 93
Amarone Trabucchi d’Illasi 2006 Azienda Trabucchi $89 11711369 (Group Score: 10 pts)
Deeply coloured, superb nose with hints of flowers and raisins (sunmaid style). Quite full and concentrated, with good structure and lots of extract. Will continue to improve with cellaring (5 to 8 yeas). My rating: 93
Amarone Riserva Sergio Zenato 2007 Zenato $90.25 11491933 (Group score: 6 pts)
Many of the participants did not appreciate the volatile acidity and acetone scents. Reminiscent of the old style Amarones produced in the 60’s and 70’s. Very deep colour. Port like scents with floral and jammy aromas. Very rich with a hint of sweetness. Robust and hearthy. Good potential (4 to 6 years). My rating: 90+?
Amarone Riserva I Fondatori 2007 Fabiano $64.75 00866186 (Group score: 12 pts)
Discreet mineral nose with some dried raisins. Good structure (tannins) and quite robust. A bit austere on the finish. Good weight and some potential (3 to 5 years). My rating: 92
Amarone 2009 Venturini $55 LCBO (Group score : 0 pts)
Unfortunately this bottle developed a moldy cork scent as it sat in the glass. Confirming that letting a wine breathe will enhance the cork taint.
Amarone 2009 Marion $90.50 11694386 (Group score: 25 pts)
The obvious group favourite and also my preferred wine of the tasting. Superb floral nose with an earthy forest floor scent. Lovely elegance and surprising evolution for such a young wine. Soft and ripe, well balanced with a hint of sweetness. Stunning effort by this great producer. My rating: 94+
Amarone Mazzano 2006 Masi $99.25 (2007) 00545129 (Group score: 7pts)
Quite disappointing effort from this highly reputed producer! Very deep colour (black). A bit harsh (tannins). Lots of volume and extract, maybe a bit over extracted? Austere bitter finish. Needs to be re-tasted. My rating: 89+?