Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Amarone Anteprima: The 2006 Vintage

There's 's no getting around it, Amarone is going places: The Valpolicella appellation was declared 2009's Winemaking Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast (beating out, among others, Champagne), while the world's counterfeiters recently paid it a backhanded complement of sorts, by trying to slip more than a million bottles of fake Amarone into the world markets. Considering that the total production of Amarone is under 10 million bottles, one has an idea of how highly the criminals valued Amarone.

Truth be told, the counterfeiters may have been trying to take advantage of Amarone's last year as a DOC wine, because the other big development for the Appellation was the attainment of DOCG status, for both Amarone and Recioto. In addition to being more prestigious, DOCG wines are more closely supervised than DOC wines, and bear a fascetta, or band, issued by the Government with codes identifying the winery, bottle size, and other information that would have presented a serious hurdle for people trying to slip a million bottles unnoticed into the markets.

Things are also moving for Amarone from a qualitative standpoint, and in (I think) the right direction. Last year the Appellation announced it would be substantially increasing the number of bottles of Amarone produced to meet heightened demand, and I wrote that this was a bad thing, because the vineyard area of the appellation is fixed, and I doubted it would be able to support an increase in Amarone production while maintaining quality levels.

This year, however, the producers were faced -- like everyone else -- with the economic crunch. A cellar with more of an expensive wine than importers feel they can afford is a winemaker's nightmare, and they moved with surprising speed to cut production, reducing the volume of grapes set aside to dry and become Amarone by 30%. Reducing the volume of dried grapes will reduce the volume of wine produced, avoiding a glut, and should also maintain if not increase quality, because the winemakers will be setting their best grapes aside.

In short, Amarone producers have reacted to the crisis with savvy determination, and I hope they will continue to follow this path when things improve, rather than jack up production with a probable decrease in quality.

So much for 2009. What of 2006, the vintage we were presented?

Let me begin by saying it is a distinct step up from the 2005 vintage presented last year, though it wasn't without its difficulties. The spring started late, and was both cool and damp, factors that delayed budbreak some. And then, during the flowering at the beginning of June, there were heavy rains that damaged the blossoms on some of the vines.

The weather then improved, and was hotter than usual through the rest of June and July, hot enough that the vines began to feel drought stress and ripening began to slow. Repeated August rains took care of this problem, and then the weather cleared and remained clear, with hot days, cool nights, and low humidities through September and October. The winemakers were therefore able to let the grapes ripen completely and harvest them at the optimal moment.

The drying phase, which is equally important for the production of Amarone, was also good, with sunny dry days and nights; drying was uneventful and did not require the use of dehumidifiers. The grapes that went into the tanks were quite high in sugar, with relatively low acidities, and had uniformly sweet ripe tannins. The resultant wines, taken as a group, are strong, with high alcohol contents, have good concentration of fruit and aromas, and are with respect to some other vintages more approachable and readier to drink, though they certainly will benefit from bottle age. The one shadowy note in this otherwise pretty picture is acidity, which is in many cases relatively low, and this is in part due to changes in the Disciplinare, which have allowed the exclusion of Molinara, the traditional third grape of the Valpolicella blend (the other two are Rondinella and Corvina), which was planted primarily because it was more certain to produce than the other two in off vintages, but also contributed -- I have been told -- a measure of acidity. However, the bottom line is that the 2006 Amarone is an interesting wine that will age well, and have quite a bit to say.

This year 65 winemakers presented their wines at the Anteprima, some are well established, well known names, and others are newcomers to the field, but taken as a whole they provided a nice panorama. But not a complete one; a number of the best known producers, including Allegrini, Tommaso Bussola, Quintarelli, and Dal Forno chose not to participate. A pity, because had they participated the picture provided by the Anteprima would have been richer and more faceted.

Before we get to the wines, a few words on the tasting:
The Disciplinare governing the production of Amarone states that the wine must be aged for at least two years before bottling, and in the case of a wine harvested in 2006 this means that those who want to can bottle at the beginning of 2009. And some do. But most prefer to give the wine more time, and some are still waiting. Therefore, we were presented with a mixture of wines, some of which have been in bottle for quite a while (and are on the market), some of which for just a couple of months (and will be released soon), and some that are still in cask, vat, or barrel (and will be released in 2011).

It is very difficult to compare bottled wines and barrel samples, because barrel samples are to a degree like lumps of clay: They can display great, even tremendous potential. But they are not complete, because a great many aspects, especially of the bouquet, develop in the bottle. For this reason I generally do not score barrel samples. However, I am making a partial exception in this case, scoring the barrel samples that showed well, because what is showing well now will presumably continue to show well in the future. As for the barrel samples that are not showing well, I prefer to simply talk about them and wait, because they could improve dramatically (as could the wines that have just a couple of months of bottle age). In other words, though I do give scores, in this case I think the notes and general impressions give a much more accurate picture of the wines.

The Wines, Tasted January 30 2010

Sartori Reius Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black cherry ruby with some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is not quite as clean as it might be; there's a hint of mustiness to it mingled with greenish accents and some sour berry fruit. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderately intense sour berry fruit supported by moderate berry fruit acidity and by graphite shaving bitterness, while the tannins are ample and soft, and flow into a clean soft bitter finish. I'd have liked a little more definition and backbone to it; it has a languor to it that I would have been happier to find in an older wine. Kids (and these are kids) are supposed to be on their toes.
1 star

F.lli Fabiano Nicola Fabiano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with brandied cherries underlain by greenish accents and some penetrating alcohol, with an underlying coolness that brings dappled shade to mind. On the palate it's ample and fairly soft, with moderately intense cherry fruit -- less than I expected from the nose -- supported by dusky tannins that are quite smooth, and have a cedary overlay to them, flowing into a fairly long clean rather soft finish. It's up in the air, and needs to come together, because at present the tannins have a muddying influence on it. When they smooth it could be interesting, but it's too soon to say.

Valentina Cubi Morar Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep almandine ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, in a youthful key, with slightly brandied cherry fruit supported by red berries and greenish accents, with some underlying spice. Enticing. On the palate it's ample, rich, and fairly sweet, with elegant brandied cherry plum fruit supported by tannins that though smooth do have a slight greenish burr, and moderate acidity, which flow into a clean plum finish that has some brown sugar and oatmeal accents. Pleasant, in a cheeky sort of way, and though it is very young one could drink it with a rich stew even now. But those who have patience will be rewarded, because it has a ways to go yet. If you like this fairly sweet style of Amarone you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Monteci Costa delle Corone Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is powerful, with considerable greenish accents interwoven with cedar and some peppery spice; there's not much fruit, though there are hints of leather. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by bitterness more than acidity, bitterness from soft tannins, that flow into a cool plum laced finish with underlying tannic bitterness that has a slightly metallic tang. It's a bit settled, and young to be in this state.
1 star

Guerrieri Rizzardi Calcarole Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense with brandied red berry fruit supported by greenish accents and pleasing dusky spice that has a degree of coolness to it, and, as it opens, wet leaves. It's quite young, and in mid stride, but going in a nice direction. On the palate it's ample and sweet, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity -- enough to keep it going and by tannins that have a greenish graphite shaving bitterness to them, and flow into a fairly long plum finish that gains definition and contrast from the graphite. Pleasant in a sweeter key, and it needs time -- another couple of years -- to come together; if you like this rather curvy voluptuous style you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Tezza Brolo delle Giare Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Dusky deep almandine with black reflections and garnet in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and sweet, with dried prunes mingled with brown sugar and hints of oatmeal, and underlying spice with hints of cedar, supported by alcohol as well. On the palate it's ample, with less fruit than I expected; what is present is quite ripe, into plum and prune, and supported more by dusky graphite shaving bitterness than acidity, while the tannins are ample and smooth, and flow into a decidedly bitter finish. I would have liked greater acidity, because it's a bit flat.
1 star

Bixio Produttori Amarone Bixio Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a greenish rhubarb key, with dusky berry fruit as well; it's fairly one-dimensional at present and this is youth. On the palate it's ample, with moderate red berry fruit supported by more acidity than I expected from the nose, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly bright finish. It is direct, and this is youth, but it may go places that are interesting with time. In other words, I would wait on it, because it's in swaddling clothes now; with respect to many of the other Amaroni it has more acidity and this makes it more refreshing, and lithe. But it needs time.


Aldegheri Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and dusky brownish almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with a great lot of bitter greenish cedar and slight hints of animal tang. But not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, moderately sweet, and fairly soft, with moderately intense cherry fruit supported by dusky bitterness and moderate berry fruit acidity that flow into a fairly bitter finish. It's quite young, and really not happy about being poured; if you can give it a year or two it will do interesting things, I think. But it needs time.
2 stars

Aldrighetti Luigi, Angelo, Nicola Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine tending towards orange in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish vegetal and rhubarb accents supported by cedar and brambly acidity more than fruit, though there are some tart currants. On the palate it's ample, with moderately rich cherry currant fruit supported by moderate brambly acidity and by tannins that are smooth and bitter, with slight hints of graphite, and flow into a brandied cherry finish with underlying bitterness. It's quite young, but shows promise, and is a wine I would wait for, because it is on its toes, and a young wine should be.
2 stars

Le Marognole Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, and fairly sweet, with rhubarb and cherry mingled with duskiness and slight gum Arabic, and also a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's ample, with moderately rich berry fruit supported by bitter cedar and graphite shavings, and moderate acidity that flow into a dusky slightly sour berry fruit finish. It's going in more than one direction now, and needs to pull together. Which it will, becoming delicate and rather lacy with time. In short, it has potential, and if you like a less exuberant style you will enjoy it. It also has the potential to age well for 10 years at least. It made me think.
2 stars

Manara Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep pyrope with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is powerful, with bell pepper jelly mingled with cedar and brambles with hints of rhubarb and slight hardwood ash that gains barnyard tang as it opens; there's something haunting to it. On the palate it's ample, and fairly sweet, though not as bright as I had expected; the fruit is red berry with some currants, and there is acidity, while the tannins are ample and smooth, flowing into a clean rather bitter finish. With more acidity it would have been brighter; in its defense it is very young and the pieces are still coming together. In short, it needs time.
1 star

Marchesi Fumanelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, with quite a bit of alcohol mingled with bitter graphite and brown sugar; there are hints of red berry fruit and brandied cherries, but they are in the background now. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich dusky berry fruit supported by graphite shaving bitterness with pleasant savory accents and some brambly acidity that flow into a clean savory finish. It's deft, in an ample alcoholic key, and though it is quite young, it promises well, and will age nicely. I found it growing upon me, and think it will age nicely, becoming lacy with time.
2 stars

Vigneti Villabella Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately rich, with brambles and greenish accents mingled with spice; there's not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with fairly bright minerality more than fruit, dusky graphite supported by moderate mineral acidity and bitter tannins that flow into a dry fairly bitter finish. It's ready, though it will age nicely for another 5-10 years at least, becoming quite tertiary (with leather and leaf tobacco) with time. It's not a fruit driven wine, but it does have potential for the future.
1 star

Zenato Azienda Vitivinicola Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Impenetrable black almandine with almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with quite a bit of greenish petroleum/cedar overlying brambles and some wood smoke, but not much fruit, though there is an impression of sweetness. On the palate it's ample, and sweeter than the nose suggested, with spicy plum fruit supported by warmth and slight menthol, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a rather dusky slightly bitter finish. It's a bit disjointed and this is youth; with respect to many it has more acidity, and is therefore fresher. I would give it a year at least, and think it will show better in 2-4, aging nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

Buglioni Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with mentholated cedar and savory accents mingled with some underbrush. Pleasant, but not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with moderately rich cherry fruit that has some sweet plum overtones supported by dusky tannic bitterness and savory notes that flow into a distinctly brooding bitter tannic finish. Were it a person it would be under a cloud, but it does display a degree of grace and lacy elegance, and will also age nicely. You do have to like wines that are more brooding, however; if you like brighter sunnier wines it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

Gnirega Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is quite ripe, with plum and plum marmalade mingled with brown sugar and some spice. Also hints of oatmeal. On the palate it's drier than I expected from the nose, with ample rather dry plum fruit supported by tannins that have a bitter cedar underlay and flow into a sour plum laced bitter finish; there's not much acidity, and it therefore settles, not to say sags.
1 star

Monte Zovo Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with greenish cedar and a fair amount of alcohol, but not much fruit. On the palate it's brighter than the nose suggests, with moderately intense mentholated cherry and plum fruit supported by spicy tannins that have a greenish overlay to them, and by fairly bright mineral acidity that leads into a clean, dusky bitter finish with some earthy petroleum accents. It's very young, and needs a couple of years to get its bearings, after which it will age well for a decade or more. Brighter acidity would have been nice, but it will be lacy with time.
2 stars

Nicolis Angelo e Figli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. Looks fresher than many. The bouquet is ample, with berry fruit supported by strawberry jam and some menthol and hints of underbrush, a combination that brings a bouquet that has been sitting in a vase for a few days to mind. On the palate it's bright, with fairly lively cherry plum fruit supported by brambly acidity, and by tannins that are a little thinner than I expected, with greenish dusky bitterness, and flow into a clean brambly finish with underlying sour bitterness. It's up in the air, but has a suppleness to it that many of the other Amaroni lack, thanks to its acidity, and will age nicely; I would expect the pieces to come into place in the space of a couple of years, and for the wine to work well with roasts or stews for at least a decade thereafter. One important thing to add is that it's more supple than massive.
2 stars

I Scriani Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with considerable greenish cedar mingled with some animal tang -- lathered horse -- and spice. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich soft cherry fruit supported by cheeky berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are gritty, with a splintery greenish burr, and flow into a rather dusky bitter finish. It's in mid-stride, with the nose behind the palate, and needs at least a year to come together, though 2 will be better. Judging it now is like judging a babe in swaddling clothes.

Latium Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with jammy slightly cooked prunes mingled with some brown sugar, alcohol, and spice. It gives an impression of sweetness. On the palate it's full and fairly sweet, with bitter prune fruit supported more by savory minerality than acidity, and by amble slightly greenish bitter tannins that flow into a clean green berry fruit finish. It isn't as bright as I might have liked, and though I found the fruit enjoyable in a Recioto-based direction, I found myself wishing for more acidity. Bitter tannins are much less interesting.
1 star

San Rustico Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with greenish accents and cedar mingled with shellac (from oak, I think) and alcohol. Not much fruit. On the palate it's richer than I expected, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by delicate acidity and fairly smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly bright finish, with tannins and some raspberry acidity. The palate is well ahead of the nose, and if the nose follows its lead the wine will be pleasant, and also age nicely. But it needs time, at least 2 years.
2 stars

Terre di Leone Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is dusky, with sweet prunes mingled with wet earth and some mentholated spice. On the palate it's ample and sweet, with rich prune fruit supported by brown sugar sweetness, moderate acidity -- enough to keep it firmly on its toes -- and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly sweet prune finish with -- again -- a brown sugar underpinning, which is balanced by tannic bitterness. It's ample, and fairly rich, but the bitterness is strong enough to give it a brooding cast despite the acidity, which in the end surrenders to it. In short, it's under a cloud. But, if you like the style, you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Boscaini Carlo San Giorgio Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Impenetrable pyrope with cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is powerful, with sweetish accents mingled with bell pepper greenness and intriguing savory floral notes; there is also red berry fruit underlying it all. Invigorating, somehow. On the palate it's ample and fairly rich, with savory minerality laced with cedar more than fruit, which I found growing upon me, supported by mineral acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean savory finish. It's not fruit driven, but is nicely balanced, and invites a second sip after the first. It is also ready now, though it will continue to age nicely for many years. A little more richness of fruit would have been nice, but it does drink well.
2 stars

Cav. G. B. Bertaini Villa Arvedi Amarone Della Valpolicella Valpantena DOC 2006
Deep black garnet with black reflections and garnet rim. The nose is eye opening, with an initial rush of barnyard tang -- wet stable straw -- mingled with sea salt and some brambly notes, also hints of cedar. On the palate it's ample, and savory, with moderately intense mineral-laced berry fruit supported by brambly acidity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a savory finish. It's a big wine, and very traditional bordering on rustic, especially on the nose, and also needs another couple of years to get its bearings at which point it will age well for a decade or (probably) more. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but it's not for everyone.
2 stars

Speri Viticoltori Vigneto Monte Sant'Urbano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with chalky greenish mentholated accents mingled with ripe cherry plum fruit and some underlying cedar; there are also hints of sapone di Marsiglia, the traditional Italian laundry soap. On the palate it's ample, with dusky plum fruit supported by warm bitterness that flows into a cedar-laced bitter finish. Note he word flow, the wine gives an impression of thickness, and I think this is due to its concentration, coupled with a reliance on tannins more than acidity to carry the show.
1 star

Giuseppe Campagnola Vigneti Vallata di Marano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with quite a bit of alcohol mingled with cedar and some spice. Not much fruit, though swishing dos bring up some plums and prunes. On the palate it's moderately intense, with cherry plum fruit that I hadn't completely expected from the nose, supported by fairly bright mineral plum acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly rich plum finish with tannic underpinning. The nose is behind the palate, which is pleasant in a rather cheeky way, and I would give the wine at least a year to come together and develop. It has the potential to age well for a decade or more, but needs the time to get there. A sleeper that grew upon me.
2 stars

Cà La Bionda Vigneti di Ravazzoi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, and frankly chemical, with shellac and cedar mingled with something that brings to mind airplane glue. Lots of wood, which the wine has yet to digest. On the palate it's ample, with soft plum fruit supported by dusky cedar laced tannins whose cedar component gains strength as it flows into the finish, which is decidedly bitter. A tremendous amount of oak, which overshadows all, and though it is actually quite drinkable -- it's good oak -- you should only consider it if you like heavily oaked wines.
1 star

Zeni F.lli s.a.s. Vigne Alte Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep brownish almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is warm, with prune and cherry fruit laced with sweetness and brown sugar, and supported by spice and alcohol; the overall impression is rather haunting. On the palate it's fairly rich, with plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth cedar laced tannins that flow into a prune laced rather bitter finish with savory undercurrents. It's ample, smooth, and soft, and given its youth this sort of profile is not good, because it won't perk up with time. In short, I don't think it will be long lived, and Amarone should be.

Cantina Sociale della Valpantena Torre del Falasco Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with quite a bit of alcohol mingled with greenish accents and some spice, but not much fruit. On the palate it's brighter than the nose suggests, with moderately intense red berry fruit supported by dusky cedar laced tannins and some mineral acidity, which flow into a clean rather dusky prune finish with some brown sugar sweetness, balanced by dusky tannic bitterness. The nose is behind the palate, which is fairly pleasant, though it too needs time, at least a year and perhaps 2. It's a wine I would set aside, because I think it will do interesting things in the next 8-10 years.
2 stars

Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine Terre di Cariano - Cecilia Beretta Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is frankly oaky, with considerable cedar mingled with airiness and some greenish accents, also slight barnyard tang. On the palate it's ample, and soft, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly bright plum laced finish with slight tannic underpinning. It's a babe tightly wrapped in swaddling clothes, and whose bouquet is way behind the palate. It needs at least a year and more likely 2 to be grudgingly approachable, at which point it will be pleasant in a fairly international key, with nice fruit and nice acidity. In short, we're looking at a partially painted canvas now, one that is simply too young to score. But that will be nice.

Novaia Selezione Corte Vaona Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up cedar laced with spice (including ground cumin), graphite shavings and some sea salt. Precious little fruit. On the palate it's ample and very bitter, with sea salt that gives way to tongue curling bitterness that lasts and lasts. And lasts. It's like sucking on a barrel slat.
1 star

Santi Proemio Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish bitter accents mingled with cedar and some spice; not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense fairly sweet prune fruit laced with brown sugar and hints of oatmeal, supported by very bitter dusty tannins that flow into an almost searing bitter finish. It's quite young, and the searing qualities will fade some with time, but it's set, with more tannin than acidity carrying it, and I'm not sure how well it will age.
1 star

Antolini Pierpaolo e Stefano Moròpio Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with plum fruit supported by brown sugar and some oatmeal, and by cedar-laced sweetish spice. Pleasant, in a slightly subdued key. On the palate it's ample, and fairly sweet, with dusky plum prune fruit supported by savory minerality and spice more than acidity, and by smooth bitter tannins that flow into a brooding, slightly bitter prune finish with some greenish accents. Pleasant, though you have to like this brooding style. If you prefer brighter wines, I won't work as well for you.
2 stars

Bolla Le Origini Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is frankly rustic, with wet stable straw mingled with bramble and wet leaves; there isn't much fruit to it, though as it opens leather also emerges. On the palate it's fairly rich, with lively savory cherry plum fruit supported by fairly bright savory acidity, and by smooth fairly sweet tannins that do have a savory burr, and flow into a warm savory finish with tart fruit underpinning and some bitterness. It's pleasant in a traditional key, and much more agile than many of the other Amaroni presented; if you like the style you will enjoy it, and it will also age nicely for many years, becoming lacy and lathery with time. In short, worth seeking out if you like the style.
2 stars

Corte Campagnola Gli Archi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with violets (something odd for a wine this old) mingled with plum cherry fruit and spice; it is obviously developing and in mid stride. On the palate it's fairly rich, with sweet plum fruit supported by moderate greenish acidity and tannins that have a dusky cedar burr, and flow into a fairly long bitter greenish finish. It's fairly direct, and though this is in part youth it is also in part character.
2 stars

Vogadori F.lli F.ll Vogadori Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim that has brownish accents. It looks older than it is. The bouquet is unusual, with candied grape and plum aromas laced with sweetness and some vegetal accents, and with more swishing wet dark brown sugar. Almost molasses. On the palate it's ample, and much less sweet than I expected; there's moderate sour berry fruit supported by cedar-laced greenish tannins and moderate acidity that flow into a bitter finish that simply fades, with no fruit. It is in mid-stride, and to be honest I'm not sure where it is going. We will have to see.

Cantina Valpolicella Negrar Domini Veneti Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and some orange in the rim. The bouquet is greenish, with a fair amount of cedar and underlying bitterness shot with animal tang. Not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with moderate plum fruit supported by spice and bitterness more than acidity, and it flows into a savory bitter finish. It's fairly settled, and unfortunately the relative lack of acidity means that it isn't really going to perk up.
1 star

Albino Armani Cusianus Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep pyrope with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with moderate berry fruit supported by considerable cedar and some greenish vegetal accents. Nice balance, and it gives an impression of lightness. On the palate it's fairly rich, and quite young, with bright brambly berry fruit supported by greenish acidity and by tannins that have a greenish burr and flow into a clean vegetal finish. It's pleasant in a brambly tomboyish key, and though quite young will drink well with grilled meats or stews now, and also has the capacity o age well for a decade or more. I would give it some time, because it will I think do interesting things.
2 stars

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Campo dei Gigli Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope with cherry rim; poured ink. The bouquet is up in the air, with spice mingled with lactic acid and an airiness that brings latex to mind. Not much else at present. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderate plum fruit that is overshadowed by savory notes and tannic bitterness, which flow into more of the same in the finish. It's settled, and this isn't going to change as it ages.
1 star

Castellani Michele e Figli Campo Casalin I Castei Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep pyrope with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is chemical, with aromas of rubber cement and cedar that are, I think, extreme youth. It's up in the air. On the palate it's ample, with moderately rich cherry plum fruit supported by savory bitterness more than acidity, and it flows into a decidedly bitter finish. The nose is behind the palate, but the palate is going in a direction -- more bitterness than acidity -- that will lead to a brooding, not particularly happy wine.
1 star

Gamba Campedei Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is spicy, with considerable cedar and some berry fruit, but cedar more than anything else. On the palate it's fairly intense, with dusky red berry fruit supported by slight berry fruit acidity, and by sweet tannins that have a cedary overlay and flow into a clean cedar-laced finish that's fairly bright. It needs another year to get its bearings, but is pleasant, and will age nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

Tinazzi Cà dei Rocchi - La Bastia Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cherry fruit supported by greenish accents, quite a bit of alcohol, and penetrating cedar. On the palate it's brighter, than I expected, with cherry prune fruit supported by moderate acidity, and by milky tannic bitterness that has cedar underpinning, and flow into a rather bitter cedar laced finish. It's a bit settled, and will never be really bright, alas. But it will drink nicely with succulent roasts or stews.
1 star

Recchia F.lli Cà Betoldi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep pigeon blood ruby with almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, and a bit rustic, with some wet stable straw mingled with wet leaves and some underbrush and a certain airiness. Not much fruit. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by delicate berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a slight splintery burr, and flow into a clean fairly bright finish. It's woefully young, but pleasant in a traditional key, and if you like the style it will drink well with grilled meats or stews, though it will be much better 2-3 years from now that it is today, and will age well for a decade longer.
2 stars

Accordini Stefano Acinatico Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is a bit funky, with wet stable straw mingled with underbrush and wet leaves. It has a ripe pungency to it. On the palate it's ample, with dusky fairly sweet plum cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a greenish bitter burr to them and by moderate mineral more than fruit driven acidity, flowing into a spicy bitter tannic finish. It's a bit disjointed, and this is youth, but it is also a bit more settled than I might have liked. I would age it for a year or two, but wouldn't expect it to age for long.
1 star

Arduini Luciano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections. The bouquet is bright, with jammy red berry fruit supported by some greenish accents and rhubarb; there's a pleasant haunting quality o it. On the palate it's full, and fairly soft, with bright berry fruit supported by moderate bitterness and moderate rather lactic acidity that flows into a clean bitter plum finish with sandalwood underpinning. It's quite young, and is still in the air, between here and there. I'm not sure which direction it will fall, because the acidity isn't quite as marked as I would like it to have been in a young wine.
1 star

Benedetti Soc. Agr Corte Antica Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, and penetrating, with wood smoke mingled with alcohol and spice more than fruit. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by slightly sour acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly bright cedar-laced finish. It's a child in the woods, and has a ways to go before it comes together completely. But it is pleasant, and will drink well with foods now, though if you can give it time it will reward you. I would expect it to age well for 8-10 years at least.
2 stars

Cà Rugate Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish cedar mingled with lactic acid and a fair amount of penetrating acidity. On the palate it's brighter than one might have expected, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by sour plum acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright plum laced finish supported by deft acidity. It's pleasant, with the nose behind the palate, and will develop nicely over then next couple of years; it will age very well too, for a decade or more. It's fairly traditional, but not rustic, and is worth seeking out if you like the style.
2 stars

Roccolo Grassi Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with greenish accents and spice mingled with menthol and considerable cedar. On the palate it's ample, with soft plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and considerable cedar laced bitterness that flows into a cedar-laced finish. Quite a bit of wood, over soft fruit, and though the wine will perhaps ultimately digest the wood, it will remain soft and with relatively little acidity.
1 star

Rubinelli Vajol Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and brownish almandine rim. The bouquet is greenish, with interlaced animal tang -- wet stable straw -- and some spice. Eye opening. On the palate it's ample and soft, with cherry plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and moderate acidity that flow into a clean fairly soft finish. It's quite drinkable, but I would have liked more depth and power to it.
1 star

Tenuta Galtarossa Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with jammy spicy mentholated accents. Not much fruit, but instead alcohol and an abundance of cedar. On the palate it's richer than the nose suggests, with bright cherry plum fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly bright berry fruit finish that gains depth from dusky bitterness. It's very young, with the nose behind the palate, but displays considerable depth and elegance, and will drink nicely with roasts and stews even now, though it will also richly reward those with the patience to give it a few years. Expect it to age well for 10-15.
2 stars

Tommasi Viticoltori Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with candied red berry fruit supported by brandied accents and some cedar. Pleasant. On the palate it's ample and quite sweet, with clean bright plum fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright plum fruit finish. An elegant, fairly sweet expression of Amarone, and will drink very well with succulent stews or roasts. Pleasant, and will also age nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

Cantina di Soave Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections. The bouquet is moderately intense, with cedar mingled with some greenish accents and a fair amount of alcohol, but not much fruit. On the palate it's full, with moderately intense minerality more than fruit supported by mineral acidity and cedar laced tannins that flow into a clean mineral finish. There's less fruit than one might have liked or expected form an Amarone.
1 star

Cesari Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is decidedly greenish, with cedar and some wood smoke mingled with considerable graphite shaving bitterness. On the palate it's ample and fairly soft, with moderately intense plum fruit supported by plum acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly savory finish. It's quite drinkable, but I would have liked greater brightness and depth to the fruit than I found. In particular, the finish fades into cedary bitterness that is a bit settled.
1 star

Corte Sant'Alda Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is intense, and cedar laced, with greenish accents and a fair amount of alcohol, but not that much in the way of fruit. Some plum, but not much else. On the palate it's ample and soft, with fairly rich plum fruit supported by savory acidity and by smooth sweet cedar laced tannins. It's more along on the nose than the palate, and pleasant, though in a slightly dusky, shadowy key. I would give it a couple of years to come together, and expect it to age well for a decade or more.
2 stars

Dal Bosco Giulietta Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and slightly brownish almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with quite a bit of alcohol mingled with cedar and some greenish accents more than fruit. On the palate it's sweeter than one might have expected from the nose, with fairly rich sweet plum fruit laced with lactic acid and milky acidity, while the tannins are soft and cedary, and flow into a clean rather bitter lactic finish. It's almost milky, and this is a factor of youth and development. I hesitate to score it, because it's a babe well wrapped in swaddling clothes. But I do expect it to be fairly soft, in a ripe plum laced key.

Monte Dall'Ora Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with plum fruit supported by alcohol and dusky berry fruit jam. On the palate it's ample and fairly sweet, with plum fruit supported by fairly bright plum acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that have savory accents and slow into a savory plum finish. It's fairly direct, and is already quite ripe; the acidity isn't such that I would expect it to age for long.
1 star

F.lli Tedeschi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Impenetrable pyrope with cherry rim that has slight brownish highlights. On the palate it's distinctly vegetal, with greenish bell pepper mingled with some bell pepper jam and greenish spice, also some artichoke. In short, green. On the palate it's greenish too, with savory bell pepper supported by cedar and moderate minerality more than spice, which flow into a fairly quick cedar laced finish. It's very much up in the air, and needs more time to come together and develop.

Monte del Frà Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish accents mingled with cedar and some wood smoke, also a fair amount of alcohol. Not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, and sooth, with richer than expected plum fruit supported by lively plum acidity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright plum laced finish. Pleasant in a ripe key, and will drink well with drier roasts or stews. It also needs time; though one could drink it now it will do better in 2-4 years, and age well for a decade or more.
2 stars

Fraccaroli Domenico Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with ripe plum fruit supported by slight greenish accents and some bell pepper jelly with hints of artichoke greenness as well. In short, ripe and fairly vegetal. On the palate it's ample, with moderately sweet plum fruit supported by greenish accents that flow into a clean bright cedar laced finish; there's not as much acidity as I might have liked, but it will be pleasant enough in the short term. Not enough acidity for long aging.
2 stars

Musella Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is very young, with cedar and some chemical accents; it smells like it's fresh out of the barrel and has a ways to go in terms of development. On the palate it's ample and fairly sweet, with plum fruit supported by cedar-laced bitterness more than acidity, and by ample cedar laced tannins that have again bitterness, this time more graphite, and flow into a fairly sweet prune finish that has a decidedly bitter tannic underpinning. There isn't as much acidity as I might have hoped for; the wine is settled now, and will not perk up with time.
1 star

Trabucchi Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Barrel sample
Deep pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is deft, with greenish berry fruit supported by spice; the impression is of considerable youth. On the palate it's ample, with greenish plum fruit supported by dusky greenish acidity and tannins that flow into a clean fairly tart greenish savory finish. A distinctly vegetal wine -- and this is at least in part youth -- but pleasant and nicely balanced, and if you like the style, you will enjoy it. But you have to like the style, which is also fairly traditional.
2 stars

F.lli Farina Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, with greenish accents and some wet stable straw mingled with brambly notes. Fairly rustic. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit overshadowed by cedar laced acidity and by rather evanescent cedary tannins that flow into a direct cherry plum finish. It's a bit hulking, and gives an impression of being firmly in place.
1 star

Venturini Massimo e Figli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cedar mingled with some barnyard tang and moderate spice, but not much fruit. On the palate it's full and soft, with fairly intense plum fruit supported by savory accents and bitterness more than acidity, and it all flow into a clean rather bitter finish. I'd have liked more acidity, than I found.
1 star

Zecchini Amarone Della Valpolicella Valpantena DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rather green, with a fair amount of alcohol mingled menthol and some spice; not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, and fairly soft, with cherry plum fruit supported more by dusky bitterness than acidity, though some hints of acidity to emerge in the finish, of the mineral variety. Pleasant enough though very young, and needs a year or two to begin to get its bearings; because of the plum laced fruit cast and the relative weakenss of the acidity I a not sure how much beyond 5 years it will age.
2 stars

Le Tobele Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish vegetal accents mingled with berry fruit and spice. Quite young. On the palate it's ample, with bright green berry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by pleasant smooth sweet tannins that do have a slight burr, and flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish that has some dusky sweet plum undertones. Pleasant, and though it will drink now with stews or roasts, will also age nicely for a number of years, and will reward those blessed with patience.
2 stars

Winding Down, Trabucchi
The second day of the Anteprima was dedicated to winery visits. Since a serious snowstorm was forecast, and indeed the morning sky was an eerie white, I decided to limit my visits to Trabucchi, which is in Illasi, a town on the easternmost border of the Valpolicella production zone, overlooking the valley containing the town of Soave. Raffaella and Giuseppe Trabucchi have a beautiful home, with an extremely impressive, very new cellar, and make a number of fine wines, which we tasted in the course of an elegant, traditional Veronese lunch.

Trabucchi Valpolicella Superiore Terre di San Colombano DOC 2005
Deep cherry ruby with cherry rim. Elegant nose, with deft cherry fruit that has slight jammy accents -- the grapes were lightly dried, and it shows -- and elegant spice, hints of cumin and menthol from the grapes, and very fresh. Beautifully clean. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful berry fruit supported by the greenish spice typical of Valpolicella, as well as acidity and tannins that have warm sandalwood accents, another thing I associate with Valpolicella. It all flows into a clean slightly bitter greenish berry fruit finish. Beautiful depth and elegance, and very pleasant to drink. We had it with pasta e fagioli, and it was perfect, or you could drink it with meat-based pasta dishes or simple grilled meats.
91-2

Trabucchi Valpolicella Superiore Terre del Cereolo DOC 2004
Here the grapes were dried for 20-25 days, and there is more oak. The wine is deep garnet ruby with almandine rim -- more mature than the San Colombano, and given its greater age this makes sense. The bouquet is elegant, with rich slightly candied berry fruit supported by delicate spice and cedar. Quite harmonious, though not as bright as the San Colombano, and this is a combination of more wood and greater age, as the grapes are the same. On the palate it's full and rich, with warm berry fruit supported by slightly greenish acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight burr and flow into a clean fresh finish. The oak colors it slightly with respect to the San Colombano, which I found to be more delicate and to display greater finesse. Terre del Cereolo is instead more bulked up and powerful, and I found it to be mid-way between Valpolicella and Amarone in some ways. Which you prefer is a question of stylistic preference.
2 stars

Trabucchi Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich slightly jammy berry fruit supported by clean spice, slight greenish vegetal accents typical of Valpolicella, and pleasing spice. Beautiful character. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful red berry fruit supported by deft acidity and clean bright peppery tannins that flow into a clean bright fairly sweet tannic finish that lasts and lasts. Very nice, and though it is quite young it will drink beautifully with steaks or roasts now, or with mixed boiled meats and sauces of the sort we enjoyed it with. A beautiful Amarone.
92-3

Trabucchi Trabucchi D'Illasi Amarone Riserva DOC 2003
This is made only when the vintage warrants it; there is a 2004 coming, but no 2005. Deep black garnet with black reflections and garnet rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, and jammy, with deft red berry fruit supported by cedar-laced spice and warmth. It's a bit blockier than the 2004 and this is the vintage. On the palate it's ample, soft, and cedar-laced with moderately rich berry fruit. Not heatstruck, but also not of the quality of the 2004, and flows into a warm dry berry fruit finish.
2 stars

Trabucchi Recioto Della Valpolicella 2005
Inky pyrope with black cherry rim. Rich nose with languid red berry fruit supported by greenish plums, sweetness, hints of oatmeal, spice, smoke, and some cedar. Quite elegant, though the cedar is somewhat distracting. On the palate it's ample, rich, sweet, and very smooth, with shadowy plum fruit supported by moderate acidity -- some of the acidity has been polished out of it -- and by very smooth sweet tannins that flow into a languidly voluptuous finish whose texture brings to mind creamy, really good hot chocolate, while the fruit flows into prune. And it lasts, and slasts. Beautiful in a fairly modern key, and a fine, fine Recioto.
88-91

That's It! Thanks as always to the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella for organizing the event, and best wishes to the Consorzio's Director, Emilio Fasoletti, who says he is retiring this year. Valpolicella won't seem quite the same without him at the helm.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your details on the wines are great to read, but it seems like every wine looks like "almandine" and you are trying to relate each wine's color to some obscure, semi-precious stone....PYROPE?? come on, what are you trying to prove? Are you a gemologist or a wine reviewer? Are your readers gemologist or people trying to relate to your wine reviews?

Kyle Phillips said...

I'm not a gemologist, but I did major in geology in college. Color is important, and I try to be specific using what I know. Garnet is actually a range of colors because there are many kinds of garnet. Some are orange and other much more towards blackish purple red. I suppose I could try other descriptors (Ferrari red as opposed to Alfa Romeo red (F is considerably more orange)?) but I'm not sure I would come out ahead.

Kyle