Amarone della Valpolicella DOC (now DOCG), Veneto area, northeastern Italy
60% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, 10% Molinara; 15.5% ABV
from Montresor, part of Bronco Wine Company
$19 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 Feb
This wine was pretty expensive for GO wine, but I recalled a CdC Valpolicella Ripasso we liked for $9, so I hoped this would still be a bargain at just over twice the price.
I am not very familiar with Amarone but my impression was that it would be, as the Wiki page says, “very ripe, raisiny, full-bodied wine with very little acid.” I was a little worried because this doesn’t sound so much like my preference, but this wine did not strike me that way. It was not sweet and while the fruit was more concentrated than previous Valpolicellas I’ve tasted (including ripassos), it was not at all raisiny.
The first thing I noticed was that the cork was wet almost to the end, hinting it may received some poor storage along the way. At first pour, the wine showed fairly simple, rich, red cherry fruit. But by about 80 minutes in a decanter when dinner was ready, this wine was opening up and soon became spectacular. It showed dried red cherries, tangy purple / black cherry, blackened wood, a little tart red cherry, dark plum / blackberry, hints of licorice and cola, with a nice woody, light-earthy, slightly caramelly, aged complexity. It was very smooth and elegant. The fruit was ripe, but it also had a tasty, fruity, bitterness and pretty good balancing acid.
However, after about 2:25 after opening, the wine greatly simplified. It wasn’t bad, but it was relatively boring to drink. So, the summary is that there is a pretty small window of about an hour in which to drink it, but in that hour, it’s superb. Since I managed to hit it in that window, I’m quite satisfied with my purchase. Over my years of tasting GO wines, I’ve become a big fan of Corvina-based wines, and this is easily the best such wine I’ve tasted. Sometimes when a wine shuts down after a while, it means it will improve with age. In this case, especially since the Wine Advocate’s vintage chart says that 2008 Amarone is ready to drink, I suspect it means this should be consumed right away.