Amarone aficionados turned out in record numbers for a seminar and walk-around tasting in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. Held at the sleek, modern chancery of the Italian Embassy, the event kicked off the U.S. portion of the Amarone Families’ North American tour.
The seminar began with an opening presentation by Marilisa Allegrini, president of the Famiglie dell’Amarone d’Arte (as the Amarone Families are officially called), who explained their mission and goals.
As the technical seminar got under way, moderator Geralyn Brostrom, education director of the website Italian Wine Central, set the tone with an Amarone 101 overview. She then asked each producer a question based on a unique attribute or production aspect of their wine.
Perhaps one of the most insightful anecdotes came from Pierangelo Tommasi, who had one of the older vintages at the seminar. When asked how aging Amarone benefits the wine, he quipped: “It is like when you get up in the morning and see your reflection in the mirror—you say, What the heck is that? Then you take a shower, fix your hair, put on some makeup… Aging Amarone is analogous. When first put in the barrel, then bottle, the wine is like what you see in the mirror. Then, after 12–15 years, the wine comes together and is harmonious and beautiful.”■
Download the entire event program here.
The highlight of the walk-around tasting at the Italian Embassy in Washington was a series of speeches delivered by various dignitaries and heads of the wine organizations. The Italian ambassador, Claudio Bisogniero, kicked it off with remarks that centered on 2013 being the “Year of Italian Culture in the U.S.” Bisogniero emphasized not only wine’s economic impact but also its cultural significance.
Marilisa Allegrini, president of the Amarone Families organization, followed with an explanation of the organization’s mission. She described how the 12-member families are committed to the highest quality Amarone production.
Giovanni Mantovani, director general of Veronafiere, where Italy’s prominent wine fair Vinitaly is held each year, rounded out the afternoon’s remarks. He supported the ambassador’s sentiments that competition between the two countries is healthy and good for business, citing the maxim “A rising tide raises all boats.”■
Amarone is a classy wine made by classy people. This was my conclusion after listening to each producer’s story and tasting their wines, which ranged in vintage from 2006 to 1993, representing 20 years of Amarone. One thing was clear: Many of the wines still had intensity of fruit aromas and flavors that belied their age, and all were replete with silky, polished tannins.
The diversity of the wines was intriguing, on a clear continuum of flavors. The younger wines showed youthful, sweet black cherry fruit, rich chocolate, and exotic spices such as star anise, clove, and even truffle. As the tasting moved through the older vintages, the vibrant black cherry evolved into dried fruit, balsamic elements, undergrowth, leather, and in some cases, elusive floral notes. Regardless of age, the marked acidity and tannin structure form the backbone of these wines. All were still eminently drinkable.
Complete with single-vineyard offerings and riserva bottlings, this tasting demonstrated that even in such a tightly packed geographical area as the Valpolicella, differences in slope, aspect, soil, varietal blend, maceration technique, and aging approach allow producers to make wines that express their unique philosophy.■