Monday, February 23, 2009

Four Decades of Amarone

Amarone is one of Italy’s most beloved wines. Something about its rich character, power, and, in the best cases, surprising finesse, speaks to wine lovers on a deeply personal level.

I recently attended an Amarone tasting and lunch co-hosted by the Wine Media Guild and Sandro Boscaini, president of Masi, one of the greatest producers of Amarone. It was held at New York’s Felidia restaurant, and involved a one-hour tasting of Amarones going back to the early 1970’s, followed by a lunch at which the wines were paired with Felidia’s stellar food...

If there was a single lesson that stands out for me, it’s that the range of styles in which Amarone is made is astounding, and that the age-worthiness of the best of them rivals that of the other great wines of Italy.

Here are my tasting notes for a few of the highlights:

Masi Amarone Classico "Costasera" 2005 – Though showing classic notes of coffee and gently raisinated fruit, the richness of this young red is offset by a wonderfully refreshing acidity. Dangerously drinkable.

Masi Amarone Classico "Mazzano" 1997 – This single-vineyard offering from the fabulous 1997 vintage is nothing short of beguiling: Mature, complex, concentrated aromas of exotic brown spices practically leap from the glass. The finish lasts for well over a minute.

Bertani Amarone Classico 1972 – Fully mature and perfectly structured, offering a deep well of black pepper, grilled green bell peppers, bitter chocolate, cardamom, and a touch of thyme, all of it wrapped up in a texture of pure velvet.


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