The Amarone wine together with Barolo and Brunello is among the red wines synonymous with “made in Italy” in the world. This wonderful addition to a dinner table has become more available and prevalent in North America. However, nothing beats a visit to the Amarone producing vineyards in the scenic area of the Valpolicella to taste the wine from a local cellar.
The amarone is produced in the Valpolicella Veneto just a few kilometers from Verona. This area could be added easily in your tour of Italy. The area can also be reached in less than one hour and half from Venice and less than two hours from Milan. The area with its lush vineyards and scenic hill top towns can be compared in beauty to the areas of the Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano in Tuscany.
There is an interesting tale about the birth of the Amarone wine which is fairly recent. The story is that about 70 years ago a winemaker producing the popular wine called Recioto of the Valpolicella which is an intensely flavored sweet red wine, for got one of the barrels. When discovered the natural yeast in the wine had begun to ferment and transformed the sugar into alcohol creating a rich dry wine.
So what is “Amarone della Valpolicella”? It is the result of the union of three indigenous grapes : Corvina , Rondinella and Molinara grapes that are grown on the hills between the Adige and Lake Garda. These grapes are harvested by hand in September and left to dry naturally on mats in a well ventilated environment allowing the water to evaporates in the grapes creating a very concentrated juice. The grape bunches must be intact as much as possible and must be placed all in the same direction in a single layer on the grid without overlapping. Constant care is given during the drying process. Some producers still use bamboo canes to store the grapes on as the canes provide higher moisture absorption which is the key to good grapes for Amarone. This drying process lasts three to four months and once dried the grapes are crushed and fermented. When the fermentation of Amarone is finished, it is put into oak barrels for aging where it is left for four to five years.
In recent years, to meet the new fashion trends that dictates less aggressive and more drinkable wine for all dishes, the Amarone style has been renewed with new drying technologies. Despite this the drying process is still meticulously cared for and still takes a long time. For this reason the Amarone can be defined a “modern wine with an ancient heart” and what makes it a unique are undoubtedly two main factors; the territory and craftsmanship .