W&W Wine Guide - Amarone

W&W Wine Guide - Amarone

Whitmore & White
Amarone della Valpolicella (otherwise known as Amarone) is a rich Italian red wine made from the partially dried grapes of Corvina, Rondinella and other approved red grapes such as Corvinone and Molinara. The wine was assigned Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in December 1990. In December 2009, Amarone was promoted to the status of Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). The name Amarone, in Italian, literally means "the Great Bitter"; this was originally to distinguish it from the Recioto produced in the same region, which is sweeter in taste. Grapes are harvested in the first two weeks of October, by choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, so as to let the air flow. Grapes are allowed to dry (traditionally on straw mats); this process is called appassimento or rasinate (to dry and shrivel) and concentrates the remaining sugars in the grapes. Many modern Amarones are now produced in special drying chambers under controlled conditions. This minimizes the amount of handling of the grapes and helps prevent the onset of Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). The process of desiccation not only concentrates the juices within the grape but also increases the skin contact of the grapes. It further metabolizes the acids within the grape and creates polymerization of the tannins in the skin which contribute to the overall balance of the finished wine.

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The length of the drying process is typically 3-4 months but varies from producer to producer and the quality of the harvest. Following drying, at the end of January/start of February, the grapes are crushed and go through a dry low temperature fermentation process which can last up to 30/50 days. After fermentation, the wine is then aged in barriques made from either French, Slovenian or Slavonian oak. The pomace left over from pressing off the Amarone is used in the production of Ripasso Valpolicellas. The final result is a very ripe, raisiny, full-bodied wine with low acidity levels. The legal minimum alcohol level is 15% and the resulting wine is usually released until 3-5 years after the vintage. If fermentation is stopped early, the resulting wine will contain more residual sugar (>than 4 grams of sugar per litre) and produce a sweeter wine known as Recioto della Valpolicella. Recioto was the traditional wine produced according to this method, and Amarone originally was Recioto wines that had fermented for too long. Graham Simpson Wine & Spirits Buyer, Whitmore & White Don't forget, all our wines are available to buy online and can be incorporated into fantastic hampers in our create your own hamper section!