So normally on a Monday, I’d share with you what was drunk over the weekend full of exuberance for the lovely new wines I’d discovered. Unfortunately, it all got a bit out of hand so the wines that were rather rapidly consumed, became tainted with various Tequilas, Sambuca and god knows what else meaning my review would be somewhat inaccurate and therefore about as helpful as a review from someone with a bad bought of sinusitis.
Instead, I have decided to dive back into the beautiful wine pool of this memory of mine to tell you about my discovery of Amarone wines.
Picture, if you will, Geneva in November 2015 and two girls waiting for their skiing transfer on an adventure of Swatches and Swiss cheese. It was a seven hour wait, so my sister Harriet and I walked through every nook and cranny of Geneva, searching for history and mainly people, there was a real lack of people in Geneva – bliss.
We stumbled upon a giant chess board where I triumphed Harriet with some help from a strange but equally pleasant Swiss man who didn’t speak a word of English nor I German/French. We found a castle with a giant door, some soldiers doing handstands in front of the lake, plenty of watch shops, the most delicious chocolat chaud and of course, we found Denise’s – Art of Burger in this shopping centre we couldn’t afford anything in.
After our adventures, we were ready for a sit down and as Harry caught a glimpse of the red bloody juice (sorry veggies) oozing out of a neighbouring tables burger, we decided to go the whole hog. We both had rare burgers with the various sides and a glass of house red, it wasn’t too pricey but stupidly I never wrote down the name of the wine and it’s haunted me ever since. IT WAS AMAZING, I don’t know if that’s just because I can’t find it now, or whether it was the steak, but it was a swiss wine and it was possibly the most delicious sweet, berry rich red that I have ever had. You’ll have to take my word for it because despite my best forensic efforts (and I’m good), I cannot source the name of this elusive wine.
[If you happen to know the wine, or think you might know, please get in touch.]
Anyway, at a later date back in little Stamford at work I was explaining this mysterious red to my boss, Peter Hunt, a fine wine expert himself and he said, “Well if you’re into those sorts of wines have you ever tried an Amarone,” Peter pronounced it am-err-ony (like pony) and I’ve stuck to that. I hadn’t even heard of the Amarone grape until this point so Peter took great pleasure (I love passion) in explaining the process of the Amarone wine to me.
What makes them so special (expensive) is the technique to create the wines. There is a really good explanation on Wine Folly, here. But put simply, when the Valipolicella Classico grapes are harvested for wine, they are left to dry into crumpled little raisins meaning they’re sweeter, more concentrated and far, far fruitier. Once they’ve reached this stage, the normal process of making wine commences but due to the shrivelled nature of the raisins, double the quantity of grapes is required to create the same volume of wine. This is why it’s often fairly expensive, let alone the extra time and space all of this Amarone production takes.
So there you have it, I was sold and immediately sought to get my hands on a bottle so I could give Peter my verdict. I believe my first bottle came from Sainsbury’s via my old housemate Matt who I sent on a bit of an errand, poor Matt. I have tried many since and here are my favourite three so far, I plan to try many more…
Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, 2012, 15%
This is really reasonable at £16 and definitely up there with my favourites. It is a smooth customer with flavours of blackberries and damsons. Goes down beautifully with at least six caudalies. A full-bodied, orgasmic treat of a wine.
Cantina di Negrar Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2014, 15%
A little bit pricier, well it is Waitrose, this ble bla blu bla Amerone Classico is also up there with my favourites. It was quite sharp on first taste so I distilled it into a decanter to breathe for a little while. After patiently waiting around 2 hours, I got stuck in and found it had made an enormous difference. The wine told a story after it had been allowed to breathe, and somehow took you back to lying there in the sun as it turned into those wrinkly raisins, ready to be pressed in the most tantalising of wines, another winner for me.
Amarone Classico Costasera 2012 Masi, 15%
This again needed to breathe, interesting that the Sainsbury’s wine didn’t…but alas, they all have different characters.
Once resuscitated, this Amarone was slightly different to the others in that it was quite floral underneath the deep berry notes. A very intricate tasting red, I think you could get addicted to it simply by trying to work out what the flavours are. Thankfully this bottle was a gift as it’s quite pricey, but if you’re looking to spoil someone then look no further.
As I have looked back over these wines, I have noticed a staggering amount of comments that state you can’t get a decent Amarone for under £50, which is slightly concerning. The trouble is, it’s so strong and gets you so pissed that you can’t really remember much about it the next day anyway so you must be vigilant and keep notes before you start shluring your schpech.
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