I’m turbo-passionate about Amarone, and if I could afford to drink it every day, I promise you I would! Amarone is stylistically very different than anything else Italy puts out, and is the king of wines from North-Eastern Italy. If you’re basing your opinion of Italian wine solely on Chianti, make sure you keep reading…
The Luigi Righetti winery is family owned and operated, and has been that way since 1909. Gian Maria Righetti is the fifth-generation winemaker in the Righetti family. I’d LOVE to tell you more about winery….but that’s all I could find out.If you can find a website for the Luigi Righetti you’re a better man than I! My guess is they’re just so “old school” they don’t even have one…
A combination of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes are used to produce Amarone, with Corvina usually occupying the majority share. You may have tasted wines made in the Valpolicella region before (which use these same grapes), and that’s all well-and-good, but if you haven’t tasted an Amarone you’re in for a euphoric experience! Whereas a regular “Valpol” is typically medium in body, and should grace your lips fairly soon after release (usually within 3 years), Amarone is full-bodied and in it for the long haul! It’s not uncommon for Amarone to be aged 10-15+ years (dependent on the brand).
The way Amarone is made is quite easily its most unique feature, with the grapes being dried out on straw or bamboo mats in a barn or attic over the course of a few months. This technique causes them to dry and shrivel, losing the majority of their water, intensifying the flavor, as well as adding significant complexity. This process obviously has a BIG influence on the taste of the wine, and really brings out the raisin, prune and chocolate flavors….as well as bumping up the alcohol around 15% (due to the more concentrated sugar levels during fermentation).
Translated, the word Amarone means "the Great Bitter”. I wouldn’t exactly say that does the wine justice…but with references made to “reticum” (wine produced from dried grapes) dating back to Roman times, marketing wasn’t exactly their strong point. Based on the absence of a Luigi Righetti winery website, it doesn’t look like much has changed either…
Place (click map for larger view)
Amarone is only produced in the Valpolicella region of the North-Eastern Veneto region of Italy.
The Veneto is either 3rd or 4th in terms of overall wine production in Italy. The region has around 185,000 acres of planted grape vines. That’s almost 300 square miles!
White wines make up around 55% of production in the greater Veneto, with Prosecco and Soave dominating.
The name “Valpolicella” translates to “valley of many cellars” named after…….that’s right…..all the wine cellars that are scattered throughout the region!
This bottle of 2008 Amarone is actually quite significant as it still bears a DOC (Denominazione Origine Controllata) i.e. the second highest “quality” tier of Italian wine. In December 2009, Amarone was stepped up to DOCG (Denominazione Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest quality level awarded in Italy. No-doubt the move was very much deserved, and I’m not going to get off on a tangent here, but I’ll leave by saying that the Italian system for classifying wines is fundamentally flawed, and has very little practical application for the everyday consumer.
Full-bodied, but remaining smooth all the way through. Concentrated ripe black cherry, dried cranberry, currant and plum leading the way; with mocha, leather, old oak, licorice and forest floor on the middle-to-backend. Decanting / aeration before serving is essential. Will easily handle another 5+ years in the bottle.
There are quite a few different ways you could go with an Amarone, personally I’m quite happy to drink it by itself. I see Amarone as one of the very few Italian wines that doesn’t actually need food, but feel free to give thought to: rich and creamy risotto, red sauce pasta, mushrooms, game, herb-crusted lamb, flank steak with a cherry glaze, and even dark-chocolate cake. Do bear in mind the alcohol level though i.e. stay away from spicy dishes.
$32 – Reassuringly expensive. Be afraid of Amarone in the $20’s. Amarone is sold at a premium for a reason!
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