One of the leading Italian wines, Amarone is composed of the same varieties as Valpolicella – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara. Amarone is a dried grape wine, produced from select whole bunches of grapes, traditionally dried on mats in open areas or barns. Some large producers today dry the grapes in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.
In a method dating back to Roman times, the grapes are crushed and fermented dry, yielding deeply coloured wines of concentrated flavours. Amarone, like many other wines, can be found in a variety of styles ranging from fresh and fruity to deeply coloured and intensely flavoured, with higher alcohol content, often creating the perception of a sweet wine.
Cellar Craft Showcase Collection
Bottled August 2014
This version was a beautiful deep ruby, dark enough to be less clear without being opaque.
Well developed aromas included violet; plum; black cherry; anise; cedar; leather; and fig. The fruit flavours, cherry and raspberry, were pronounced and jammy/sweet. Additional flavours were dark, bitter coffee (there’s that characteristic bitterness, again!); dark chocolate; baking spices; undercurrents of dried fruit; notes of oak.
This is a sturdy full-bodied Amarone with a round, honeyed, lush mouthfeel; velvety smooth. Acidity and tannins are both prominent and in excellent balance. The finish was medium-long with white pepper notes.
From the cheese/nut plate, the Showcase Amarone was fabulous with the Parmigianno Reggiano, as well as with the unsalted nuts and black olives. On the plate was a piece of Amedei Toscano Black 70% chocolate, made in Pontedera, Italy; purchased at Wellington County’s Fifth Town Cheese. For those who like the idea of serving this style of Amarone at the end of the meal, this chocolate made an outstanding addition to my cheese plate. The bitterness of the dark chocolate echoed the chocolate notes in the wine; matched the coffee notes; and mimicked the Amarone’s underlying bitterness. This wine’s structure would make it a fine accompaniment to ribs; grilled steak; and well-flavoured cheeses like Bleu Elisabeth or Asiago.
Cellar Craft Sterling Collection
Bottled August 2014
The Sterling Amarone was a clear medium-dark ruby. The initial impression was one of freshness – tart cherry, with raspberry and smoky notes; straightforward and uncomplicated.
Flavours were much the same as aromas, with the addition of an underlying bitterness (characteristic, and not unpleasant in the least) and hints of baking spice. Medium-full bodied, with lively acidity and subtle tannins, this is a very food-friendly Amarone that would be a fine accompaniment to roast lamb, game birds/meats.
With my tasting I enjoyed a cheese/nut plate, featuring Fifth Town (Picton, ON) Brillat Savarin, a soft cow’s milk cheese studded with wine-soaked currants. The acidity of the Amarone was a perfect foil to the creaminess of the Savarin, and picked up on the flavour of the currants.
Overall, although each of these wines is definitely ready to drink, I would expect the Cellar Craft Sterling version to develop additional flavours through modest ageing. The Cellar Craft Showcase version, already more intense in all respects, with further ageing of up to 2 years, will continue to develop and offer greater depth of flavours, particularly the dried fruit aspect, which is not yet prominent. If you have a sufficient supply of one style or the other, it will be interesting to note the differences between the first bottle you open and the last.
Prepared for Wine Kitz Ottawa Iris
By Wendy Smyth, Certified Sommelier