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The vineyards of Giuseppe

Quintarelli overlook the town of


Negrar in Italys Veneto region.

Amarones
BY ALISON NAPJUS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY COLIN DUTTON

Great Divide

marone, a potent Italian red made from partially


dried grapes, has experienced growing demand in
the past 15 to 20 years, met by production that
nearly tripled at points between 2000 and 2015.
But with this success has also come division:
The region is now riding a tumultuous wave of shifting styles and
internal conflicts.
Ambitious producers are in the process of shedding an anachronistic identity, which was marked by an oxidative style out of favor
with many of todays consumers. Instead, theyre embracing fresher,
more balanced versions. But while these offer greater accessibility
in their youth, they are at odds with the bottlings of 20 or 30 years
ago that laid the groundwork for the regions present success.
New producers are proliferating, many offering Amarones in a
range of styles that threaten to blur the wines identity even further. Perhaps most unsettling, the large-volume commercial bottlings that are riding the coattails of Amarones popularity may

AS THIS HISTORIC VENETO RED


GAINS NEW POPULARITY, DEBATE
RAGES OVER STYLES AND REGULATIONS

undermine its long-standing reputation for quality.


These changes are playing out not only in the wineries, but
also in the offices of bureaucrats and regulators, where the legal
definition of the Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG is essentially
up for grabs.
The DOCG has been manipulated in the past 15 years, says
Franco Allegrini, winemaker at his family estate in Fumane, Valpolicella, which he owns with his sister, Marilisa. The first change
was allowing residual sugar levels to increase. Then, another
modificationchanging the traditional grape blend and allowing
international grapes in the blend.
Two years later, it was modified again. Theyre changing the
boundaries from which Amarone can be produced. They want to
be able to include the [lesser] valley floor, the humid areas. To
arrive at 35,000 tons of grapes, they have planted everywhere.
At the turn of the century, Allegrini says, only about 8,000 tons
of grapes were produced for Amarone. I will fight this.

DEC. 15, 2016 WINE SPECTATOR

69

llegrinis fighting attitude


is representative of the
broader turmoil in the Valpolicella area today. Tensions in the region have been running
high for many years, and Amarone producers have forged their path with an
Amarone della
Valpolicella Classico
unusual amount of drama.
In 2003, after a sweltering summer and
an early harvest of atypically ripe fruit,
producers were given permission to begin
pressing their dried Amarone grapes earlier than usual; in order to preserve a
N
Verona
fresher fruit character in the finished
wine, pressing could commence on Dec.
0 miles
2
15. Soon after, certain producers successfully lobbied to have the earliest possible
press date permanently set at Dec. 1roughly 40 to 70 days before
the historic legal time frame to begin crushing.
The Dec. 1 date throws years of tradition to the wind, angering
historic producers seeking bold, structured reds capable of aging
for decades. It highlights the political power of a number of highvolume, commercially oriented producers at the other end of the
spectrum, who see the earlier date as an opportunity to rapidly produce softer, easy-drinking reds that they can still label as Amarone.
In between, many wineries, quality names among them, welcome
the flexibility to adjust the production process as they see fit,
according to the grapes they harvest and the situation at hand.
The growing demand for Amarone has also prompted approval

HEART OF THE

VENETO

La
ke
Ga
rd
a

for the inclusion of additional fruit from


acreage within the boundaries of the
Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
(promoted from DOC status with the
2010 harvest) that was not previously
AREA OF
DETAIL
allowed. Tweaks to the wording of the
wine laws specific to the DOCGs boundAmarone della
aries now permit producers to include
Valpolicella
additional fruit from vineyards located
on the valley floor, which is generally
considered inferior.
Technically, the first expansion of the
region took place in 1968, when Valpolicella (and its Amarone wine) was offiSoave
cially recognized as a DOC, including
Soave
large swaths of land outside the historic
Classico
zone of production. Amarone wines from
this traditional zone, less than half of the larger Valpolicella area,
are today labeled as Amarone della Valpolicella Classico.
In response to what they saw as an increasing departure from
Amarones historic production zones and techniques, a dozen family-owned estates, including Allegrini, banded together in 2009 to
form Amarone Families (Famiglie dellAmarone dArte), distinguishing themselves from the nearly 2,200 growers, bottlers and
producers associated with the Valpolicella Consortium. Members
of the consortium felt the wineries of Amarone Families were holding themselves up as the best from the region and not crediting
the quality available from the broader range of the appellations
producers. In June 2015, the consortium filed suit against Amarone
Italy

Brother and sister Franco and Marilisa Allegrini manage their historic estate, which is a founding member of the Amarone Families trade group.

70

WINE SPECTATOR DEC. 15, 2016

TASTING REPORT

AMARONE

completely from the 90s to today. So we have another capacity for


Families use of the trademarked Amarone name; a decision in the
all the work in the cellar.
case is expected late this year. Meanwhile, the underlying issues
New technology has undoubtedly altered the overall style of
have remained unresolved, and many believe the battle has brought
Amarone, and some fear the loss of the wines historic style. But
negative attention to the region.
many producers, including the esteemed Romano Dal Forno
My feeling is that the Valpolicella area is in a very bad mowinery, arent worried, seeing only benefits.
ment, says Mariano Buglioni, owner of his namesake estate. Right
Dal Forno is one of the most technologically advanced wineries
now, everyone does exactly what they wantand what they want
in the region. Michele Dal Forno now runs the family estate with
only. Were advertising what we do wrong, not what we do right.
brothers Marco and Luca. Their father, Romano, invented many
Buglioni, a relative newcomer to the area, who only began making
of the systems used at the winery today, including vacuum seals on
his own wine from family vineyards in 2000, recognizes the need
each tank to prevent the introduction of oxidative qualities durto better define the identity of the Valpolicella areas signature
ing winemaking; computer-controlled fermentation tanks with a
wines, including Amarone.
punch-down system designed to work best with Amarones dried
Giuseppe Nicolis, who works with his brother Giancarlo running their family estate, founded in
1951, agrees that clarity is vital to ensuring Amarones future. Some larger
producers have decided to produce
younger, more commercial Amarones.
I hope in the future this situation will
change, says Nicolis, who is unhappy
with the lack of transparency helping
consumers choose between Amarone
bottlings of varying quality. I hope producers will be obligated to help consumers understand historical producers
versus those who buy and bottle.
Many of the regions wineries are
tired of butting heads. Others, like the
members of Amarone Families and
those considering joining them,
attempt to walk the tenuous path of
disassociating from the regions main
political forum while still promoting
the areas wines. But Nicolis, a found- Tommaso Bussola and son Paolo have embraced new technology at their family winery in order to improve quality.
ing member of the Amarone Families
group who later left to rejoin the consortium, now believes the
grapes; and a grape-drying room that uses computers to monitor
only way forward is to work within the current framework in
and rotate fans 24 hours a day in order to create consistent drying
order to effect the necessary changes.
conditions in all parts of the room.
At Nicolis we decided to stay with the consortium in order to
Its a lot of technology to make something that I still define as
change the rules, he explains. Our choice was to be coherent.
a natural process, says Michele. Were not using technology to
try to manipulate the process; its to use together with tradition.
Were confident the vacuum-seal system and other [technologies]
lthough almost every producer in the area has an
will give us more ability in terms of aging.
opinion on the feud, the discussion is largely driven
Yet Dal Forno recognizes that today were seeing only the shortby a limited number of vocal advocates at opposite
term results. When it comes to the wines ageability, he says, This
poles. The lack of engagement in the conversation by
will take time to prove.
some who might steer compromise could result in damage to AmaOn the opposite end of the spectrum, the Giuseppe Quintarelli
rones image if brasher voices win key arguments. But many proestate is one of Valpolicella staunchest traditionalists. Yet even
ducers keep their heads down, quietly focusing on the quality of
this bastion of the historical style has embraced modernity and
their own wines and hoping their output will say more about the
technological improvements in limited ways. The winerys original
region in the long run.
tasting room is maintained for its historical significance, and this
We have the same philosophy today as from the beginning,
shadowy nook with its old barrels and limited lamplight is a drassays Paolo Bussola, who works with his brother Giuseppe at the
tic contrast to the sleek lines of the recently renovated cellar and
estate their father, Tommaso, founded in 1977. We always want
the ongoing construction in other parts of the winery.
to improve the quality; we want the perfect wine. Its impossible,
Francesco Grigoli Quintarelli, who manages the Giuseppe Quinyet we keep trying. Bussola cites new and improved technology
tarelli estate with his brother Lorenzo and their parents, Giampaolo
as the biggest catalyst of change, granting the estate far greater
Grigoli and Fiorenza (daughter of the late Giuseppe Quintarelli),
scope in its winemaking capabilities. The technology changed

DEC. 15, 2016 WINE SPECTATOR

71

thinks that they too find the balance between modernity and tradition in the wines.I have to say, with technology, with machines,
the oxygenation in our wines decreased some; it used to be more
evident, says Grigoli Quintarelli. With more recent bottlings,
with more measures in the cellar, we preserve the integrity and
freshness a bit more. But otherwise, we keep a traditional path.
y recent retrospective tasting of three vintages
of Amarone provided insight into the regions
history and the changes it has undergone. The
tasting included two vintages considered to be
outstanding, 1990 and 1997, as well as a more average vintage,
2006, which showcased Amarone with short-term aging and in its
more modern format. (For my notes on this tasting, see Aging
Amarone, page 74.)
If the growing market interest in Amarone is any indication,
it seems clear that producers in Valpolicella are largely adapting
to their changing circumstances with success, whatever the ongo-

ing strife in the region. In part this is due to increased consumer


awareness of the category, says Nadia Zenato, co-owner of her
familys Zenato winery, as well as the nearby Sansonina estate. In
the past when I traveled, most people didnt know Amarone
what it was, exactly. But now, they know more about our Valpolicella area and the production process for Amarone as well.
Nonetheless, Amarone producers still have a difficult path ahead
as they balance their history, success, changing market demands
and more. But most are enthusiastic for the challenge and welcome the opportunity to showcase their regions traditions.
My grandfathers generation and before, they were learning from
vintage to vintage, explains Raffaele Boscaini, whose family owns
the historic Masi estate, referring to the progress of Amarone. My
father was lucky to learn from him and to know what to do. My
generation is lucky to know the why, and knowing this, you can
more easily see the next steps. This is the beauty of Amarone.
Senior editor Alison Napjus is Wine Spectators lead taster on wines
from the Northeast and various other regions of Italy.

Alison Napjus Recommended Amarones


More than 80 wines were reviewed for this report. A free alphabetical list is available at www.winespectator.com/121516.
WineSpectator.com members can access complete reviews for all wines tasted using the online Wine Ratings search.
WINE

SCORE

PRICE

95

$450

ROMANO DAL FORNOAmarone della Valpolicella 2010

Shows power and grace, offering finely meshed flavors of blackberry


puree, fig cake and Earl Grey tea leaf framed by refined, dusty tannins.
MASIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano 2009

$170

94

$100

ETTORE RIGHETTIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico


94

$150

Silky, with black cherry, date, candied orange zest and cocoa flavors.

The seamless knit and fine balance impart grace, with flavors of baked
currant and cherry that glide over the dense tannins.

MONTE DEL FRAmarone della Valpolicella Classico


94

$350

$75

92

$64

91

$60

91

$80

91

$60

90

$64

90

$40

90

$60

90

$91

90

$85

90

$50

Offers black cherry and spice flavors, with earth and tobacco notes.
ZENATOAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012
94

$170

Shows a fine marriage between Amarones more traditional and


modern styles. This is fresh and framed by chalky tannins.

Balanced, with notes of black cherry puree, lavender, date and mineral.
BRIGALDARAAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010

Bright and lively, with flavors of cherry, raspberry and grilled herb.
93

$65

Rich and well-integrated, with date, mandarin orange peel, dried cherry
and espresso flavors, fine-grained tannins and spicy minerality.

GIUSEPPE CAMPAGNOLAAmarone della Valpolicella


Classico Corte Armano 2011

93

$90

Sleek, offering a profile of cherry, orange zest, tar and forest floor.

Cinque Stelle 2012

CESARIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012

A dense red, offering finely sculpted tannins and rich cherry compote,
forest floor, baking spice, date and singed orange peel flavors.

Features ripe, juicy black cherry fruit and tarry mineral character.
LE SALETTEAmarone della Valpolicella Classico
93

$85

La Marega 2012

Bright and tangy, with ripe cherry, anise and marjoram hints.

Sergo Alighieri Vaio Armaron 2009

Integrates supple tannins and tar-tinged minerality, with a rich palate


of sun-dried cherry, dried fig, dried lavender and tea leaf.

WINE SPECTATOR DEC. 15, 2016

92

Pure, showing coffee liqueur, bergamot and exotic spice flavors.


VILLA GIRARDIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012

Features a skein of aromatic spice unraveling through the cherry


compote, espresso, fig cake and loamy earth flavors.

72

$59

Lena di Mezzo 2012

Classico 2006

NICOLISAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009

92

MONTE FAUSTINOAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009

Octavius Riserva 2009

Savory hints of cured tobacco and smoke meet wild strawberry and
crushed black cherry fruit in this burly red, with a lasting finish.

$130

BUGLIONIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010

MARCHESI FUMANELLIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico

MASIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico

92

Shows notes of black cherry pte de fruit, dried marjoram and clove.

Vigneti di Ettore 2012

MICHELE CASTELLANIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico

$85

This has dried cherry, fig fruit, dried marjoram and hot stone flavors.

Offers a mix of dried cherry, raspberry and Earl Grey tea flavors.

TOMMASO BUSSOLAAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010

92

ALLEGRINIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012

Plush tannins are tightly knit to the concentrated flavors of black


cherry puree, raspberry ganache and orange bergamot.

ZYMAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009

PRICE

BERTANIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007


95

TB 2009

GIUSEPPE QUINTARELLIAmarone della Valpolicella

SCORE

Features notes of crushed black cherry, dried thyme, mocha and spice.

A focused powerhouse, with pureed black cherry, tar, mocha and


herbed black olive flavors tightly knit to a dense, tannic structure.
TOMMASO BUSSOLAAmarone della Valpolicella Classico

WINE

TOMMASIAmarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012

Elegant, with flavors of black cherry, orange peel and wild herb.
93

$70

ZONINAmarone della Valpolicella 2012

Creamy and aromatic, with dried currant, fig cake and smoke notes.

TASTING REPORT

AMARONE

All About Amarone

marone della Valpolicella is the signature red of Italys northeastern

resulting wine drier and richer in taste, darker in color and silkier in texture. But the

Veneto region, located about an hour and a half west of Venice and just

drying process is delicateand fraught with potential disaster.

20 to 30 minutes north of Verona. The Valpolicella area encompasses

The idea is to dry gradually until January, says Francesco Grigoli Quintarelli

five parallel valleys, bordered by the Adige River to the west and the town of

of the Giuseppe Quintarelli estate. The difficult part is the first three weeks, when

Soave, about 15 miles to the east.

the grape is humid from the field. Once the stem is dried its much safer.

In addition to Amarone, wines labeled as Valpolicella and Valpolicella Classico


or Classico Superiore are also produced from the area, using the same grape vari-

The grapes are susceptible to the development of mold, most often botrytis.
A limited amount of cleaner, drier botrytis is sometimes considered beneficial for

eties. Almost all producers bottling Amarone also offer Valpolicella, with versions

Amarone: It imparts flavor and textural complexity for silkier wines, with interest-

ranging from a light, easy-drinking red to serve with pizza to the rich, sappy Val-

ing oxidative notes of nuts and dried fruit. Historically, this was often considered

policella Ripasso, which often shows like a baby Amarone.

a positive quality, though many of todays producers avoid these characteristics.

What separates Amarone from the areas Valpolicella bottlings is its distinctive

But botrytis can easily present as the more common gray rota blanket of mold

Left: Workers harvest Corvina, Corvinone and Molinara grapes at Masi. Right: Michele Dal Forno in Dal Fornos drying rooms, where appassimento takes place.
production process and resulting character. This is largely attributable to a drying

covering the entire surface of the grape rather than limited botrytis on individual

system known as appassimento, which brings a marked level of complexity to

berries. Gray rot spells disaster, making the production of a drinkable Amarone

both the production process and the wine.

virtually impossible.

Prior to appassimento, the regions Corvina, sub-variety Corvinone, and Mol-

ing can now legally take place as early as Dec. 1, but many producers wait until the

The appellation allows the inclusion of other varieties (up to 25 percent), and the

historic time frame of late January or early February. A shorter drying period cre-

local Rondinella and Oseleta grapes are common blending partners.

ates wines that are rounder and more fruit-forward and generous in their youth,

All of the grapes [for Amarone] are late-harvesters, says Franco Allegrini of

while traditionalists prefer the more structured versions that result from additional

the Allegrini estate. So you run a risk. Rain later in the growing season can take

drying time. Once the grapes are pressed, fermentation begins, typically long and

a long time to dry out in the vineyard, increasing the possibility of fungal develop-

slow due to the low winter temperatures.

ment. Growers in the area prize well-ventilated sites, particularly those on hillsides,

In the past, stuck fermentations were a problem: When it was too cold the

and only the healthiest grapes are selected for Amaroneideally, loose bunches

chemical reaction would stop and start, often leading to the creation of volatile

that allow for airflow and that will dry evenly during appassimento.

acidity in the wine. As with the development of botrytis and the oxidative charac-

After harvest, the grapes are dried for up to four months prior to pressing.

teristic it promotes, some find that a limited amount of volatile acidity adds a posi-

Traditionally, grapes for Amarone were placed on straw mats in fruttaios, drying

tive note of complexity. But for others, its a flaw, and rampant volatile aciditya

buildings located on windy hillside areas, and Amarone was only produced in the

pervasive acetone noteruins a wine. To avoid these pitfalls, producers today rely

best years, when the quality of the fruit at harvest was partnered with naturally

on modern, temperature-controlled wineries and/or fermentation vessels, and

moderated, beneficial conditions in the fruttaio (cooler fall and winter tempera-

more often, cultured yeasts designed to excel at low fermentation temperatures.

tures and consistent humidity levels). Today, most producers have replaced the

LEFT: COURTESY OF MASI

After appassimento, the grapes are pressed and fermented as red wine. Press-

inara grapes are grown, with harvest typically taking place in early to mid-October.

After the fermentation and winemaking process, the finished wine is aged

straw mats with more sanitary plastic crates, and drying facilities incorporate

for at least two years prior to release, or four years if the Amarone is labeled as a

varying degrees of technology to maintain peak conditions.

riserva. Many of the regions best producers will age their Amarone for additional

During appassimento the grapes undergo a dramatic transformation. Physically,

time, anywhere from five to 10 years in total. Few wineries still use the large cherry

they lose about 30 percent to 40 percent of their weight via water evaporation,

casks that were once the norm for aging Amarone; most today opt for oak. De-

significantly changing the ratio of grape skin, seed and pulp. Chemically, acidity

pending on the preference of the winemaker and the desired end wine, everything

decreases and sugar content increases, with a change in the ratio of fructose to

from small, new French oak barriques to large Slavonian tonneaux are commonly

glucose. This typically raises levels of polyphenols as well as glycerin, making the

used for aging.

A.N.

DEC. 15, 2016 WINE SPECTATOR

73

Aging Amarone

he process of drying grapes in order to strengthen


the structure and flavor range of a wine is ancient, and
Amarone has been made in the Valpolicella area under

different names for centuries. Formerly produced as a sweet


wine known as Recioto della Valpolicella (still available today in
limited quantities), dry Amarone gained increasing attention
through the latter half of the 20th century, growing in popularity
and reaching a broader international audience in the late 1980s
and 1990s.
The Veneto region, in northeastern Italy, enjoyed a series of
excellent vintages during the 1990s, which helped put Amarones
on the map alongside Tuscanys Brunellos and super Tuscans
and Piedmonts Barolos. A recent blind tasting featuring eight
producers in three vintages highlighted Amarones evolution: It
included a group of 1990s, now in their third decade; a group of
1997s, nearing the end of their second decade; and a group of
2006s, now 10 years old.
Riccardo Tedeschi, winemaker and co-owner of Tedeschi win-

ery with his sisters Antonietta and Sabrina, calls 1990 a perfect
vintage. He describes the growing season and harvest as generally very warm and dry, but punctuated by rain at exactly the
right moments. These conditions allowed the areas producers to
harvest incredibly healthy fruitexactly what they seek in grapes
for Amarones drying process.
Of 1997, Tedeschi notes, Conditions were very similar to 1990,
and there was lovely acidity in 1997. Both vintages are considered outstanding examples for the regiondream years in which
it was hard for winemakers to go wrong, both in the vineyards
and in the cellar.
In contrast, the 2006 growing season was a challenge. Abundant rainfall through the spring and summer months meant a lot
of work in the vineyards, necessitating canopy management and
green harvesting to keep vines healthy. But for those who persevered in these efforts, 2006 was saved by excellent conditions
during the final month of the growing season and into harvest.
Warm, sunny days allowed the vineyards to dry out as the grapes
completed their physiological maturity.

Sabrina, Riccardo and Antonietta Tedeschi

At 26 years old, the 1990s in the tasting were showing very


well. Although some will continue to be enjoyable for the next five years or so, in

2006s. Because of their youth, I expected to encounter burly versions that would

general, I dont think these wines will develop greatly or benefit significantly from

be more of a challenge to assess and, ultimately, to enjoy. In reality, the 2006s

additional aging. Of particular interest was the stylistic range of this group: Busso-

were the most harmonious and elegant of the tasting, offering a fine marriage of

las Vigneto Alto TB (92 points) clearly showed a throwback, oxidative style; Mi-

tannic structure, expressive flavor and underlying minerality.

chele Castellanis I Castei (91) was a more traditional version, with still-dense tan-

Despite the fine quality of the 2006s in the tasting, no bottling in the flight

nins and savory cured tobacco and tarry smoke notes; and Allegrinis 1990 (94)

received a classic rating (95 to 100 points), exactly because of the drinkability of

was a forerunner of a more modern format, rich and layered, but with fine-grained

these wines. I felt they lacked a certain tension that might allow them to cruise in

tannins and a sense of finesse.

the cellar even longer, and as a result, I would recommend drinking 2006 Ama-

The 1997s hit a sweet spot between the 1990swines with considerable age

rone now and in the next 10 to 15 years.

and the 2006s, which still have more to show. Vibrant and well-structured, with a

It was an intriguing tasting, with some fascinating examples from older vin-

notable aromatic presence, the 1997s offer herb and spice notes accompanied by

tages that got my attention by showing a moment in history captured in a bottle.

a rich range of dried or candied fruit and mineral flavors.

These are wines that are still delicious and drinkable now, yet they represent a

The biggest surprise of the tasting was the across-the-board strength of the

style not likely to be repeated or found again in todays wine world. Its unlikely the
2006s will mirror the 1997s or the 1990s when they have aged for 19 or 26 years,

W I N E S P E C TATO R .CO M
BONUS VIDEO Learn about the Venetos top-quality reds with winemaker
Marilisa Allegrini. Watch her at www.winespectator.com/121516.

74

WINE SPECTATOR DEC. 15, 2016

but its hard to deny the qualitative success of Amarone dressed in its modern
clothing. It suggests a future well worth watching.

A.N.

TASTING REPORT

AMARONE

TASTING AMARONE THROUGH THE YEARS


This chart lists the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico wines reviewed in Alison Napjus retrospective blind tasting of 22 wines. Prices given are release prices;
$NA means not available. WineSpectator.com members can access complete reviews using the online Wine Ratings search.

1990
94 AllegriniAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore$31
Rich and layered, with toffee pudding, balsamico and dried strawberry
flavors and fine-grained tannins accented by smoky minerality, grilled herb
and spice box. A still vibrant red that puts all the pieces together, with a
lasting finish of raspberry ganache and spice that shows an overall sense
of finesse. Drink now through 2025.
92 Tommaso BussolaAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto
Alto TB$NANot a powerhouse, and in an oxidative style, but lovely for
its delicate and distinctive bouquet of dried cherry, almond skin, iodine
and dark chocolate shavings layered with citrusy acidity and a zesty base
of spicy mineral, with a long, lingering sherry-tinged finish. Drink now.
92 CesariAmarone della Valpolicella Classico$NAThis tarry
version, with accents of bay leaf and Asian five spice lacing dried currant
and treacle notes. Supple tannins lightly firm the finish, and the aromatic
flavor range and overall harmony brings you back for another sip. Drink
now through 2021.

93 CesariAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Bosan$70A


mouthwatering red, with satinlike tannins adding texture and weight,
while flavors of dried strawberry, red licorice, grilled herb, woodsy spice,
bergamot and espresso expand on the palate. Long and supple. Drink now
through 2024.
91 TedeschiAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi
$38Maturing nicely, with bay leaf and dried sage notes lacing a profile
of smoky mineral, dried cherry and woodsy spice. This is angular yet wellintegrated, with more spice and leather on the rich, savory finish. Drink
now through 2021.
90 MasiAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergo Alighieri Vaio
Armaron$55Dried oregano and balsamico notes mix with hints of
treacle, sun-dried tomato, olive and date in this deeply hued red, which
still shows focus and light grip, with tangy acidity driving the definitively
mature flavor profile. Lightly chewy, spiced finish. Drink now through 2021.

2006

91 Michele CastellaniAmarone della Valpolicella Classico I Castei


$NAWith savory aromas of truffle, cured tobacco and tarry smoke, this
appears to be showing its age at first, but the palate reveals a core of
dense tannins and quietly expanding notes of dried cherry, leather and
candied orange peel. Give this some air and sip it slowly. Drink now
through 2019.

94 AllegriniAmarone della Valpolicella Classico$75A lovely,


seamless red thats hard to stop sipping, showing mineral accents of tar
and smoke underscoring rich baked cherry and date notes wrapped around
a core of dense tannins, with aromatic hints of graphite, grilled herb,
mocha and spice running through the wine and lingering on the plush
finish. This should only pick up steam. Drink now through 2030.

90 MasiAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergo Alighieri Vaio


Armaron$57An aromatic red, with spice and dried oregano accents
to the dried fig and forest floor notes. Supple, with a subtle streak of tarry
mineral and lightly chewy tannins. Not a powerhouse, but still very present.
Drink now.

94 Tommaso BussolaAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto


Alto TB$175Dried marjoram, eucalyptus and orange peel notes are an
aromatic entry for this juicy red, accenting raspberry coulis, sweet brown
bread and tea leaf notes on the lush palate. Still very fruit-forward and
expressive, with taut tannins tightly knit to the rich flavor range. The long,
zesty finish has abundant exotic ground spice. Drink now through 2030.

89 ZenatoAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato


Riserva$65Dusty and savory, an aging red with dried porcini
mushroom, leather and ground spice on the nose, followed by subtle
flavors of baked currant, tea rose and dried orange peel on the palate.
Saline-tinged minerality shows on the finish. Drink now.
88 TedeschiAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi
$NALicorice drop, eucalyptus and dried cherry fruit and a ferrous
underpinning are framed by bright acidity in this aging red. Well-spiced.
Drink now.

1997
94 Michele CastellaniAmarone della Valpolicella Classico I Castei
$NAA deep garnet hue, this is fresh and focused, with savory leather,
smoke and fresh earth notes meshed with hints of ripe, sundried cherry, fig
cake and orange pte de fruit. The tannins are supple but still very much
present in this spiced red, and mineral accents of iron and iodine gain
momentum and linger on the finish. Drink now through 2026.
94 ZenatoAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato
Riserva$NADried sage and thyme notes are underscored by a ferrous
minerality in this elegant, finely-knit red, which is maturing gracefully
silky and seamlesswith date and preserved strawberry fruit, followed by
abundant ground clove and anise, espresso and citrus peel notes lingering
on the finish. Drink now through 2024.
93 AllegriniAmarone della Valpolicella Classico$67Richly tarry
on the nose and palate, with grippy tannins and flavors of baked raspberry,
singed orange peel, espresso, dried marjoram and crushed clove and pink
peppercorn. A vibrant version thats still tightly-knit with a lasting finish of
spice and wild strawberry. Drink now through 2024.
93 Tommaso BussolaAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto
Alto TB$95Ripe and borderline bombastic, with candied strawberry,
dried orange and red licorice notes and spicy accents of star anise,
medicinal herb and fig cake. This is round and creamy, a juicy red showing
savory hints of salumi and olive along with the fruit and spice on the zesty
finish. A lot of personality still. Drink now through 2021.

94 ZenatoAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergio Zenato Riserva


$125A brooding red, with sun-dried black cherry, charred toast, toffee
pudding and medicinal herb and spice notes richly displayed on the silky
palate and framing a compact core of tannins. Its enlivened by lightly juicy
acidity, with accents of citrus zest and dried violet that echo on the finish.
Drink now through 2030.
94 ZymAmarone della Valpolicella Classico$NAThe inviting
nose of this supple red features ripe fruit and spice, expanding on the
palate to include raspberry ganache, dried strawberry, dried marjoram
and singed orange peel, Earl Grey tea leaf and star anise. Perfumed and
lightly juicy throughout, with plush tannins firming the finish. Drink now
through 2029.
93 MasiAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Sergo Alighieri Vaio
Armaron$75Harmonious and very drinkable, suggesting a long future,
this offers fruitcake flavors that are rich with dried berry, citrus and spice,
layered with sculpted tannins and a savory undertow of forest floor and
smoke. More subtle on the succulent finish. Drink now through 2029.
93 TedeschiAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi
$102Woodsy spice, smoke and cured tobacco notes accent rich date and
juicy dried black cherry flavors in this balanced red, with fine-grained
tannins and abundant ground spice holding sway on the finish. Savory.
Drink now through 2029.
92 Michele CastellaniAmarone della Valpolicella Classico I Castei
$62Rich and stemmy on the nose, this savory red opens slowly on the palate
with a fine mesh to the flavors of dried fig and cherry fruit, with notes of forest
floor and hints of smoke and dark chocolate. Bright and mouthwatering, with
a lasting, zesty, spiced finish. Elegant. Drink now through 2026.

92 CesariAmarone della Valpolicella Classico Bosan Riserva$115


An elegant version, offering well-knit flavors of sappy black cherry, baking spice
and bergamot notes layered with a tarry mineral presence and fine tannins that
impart grip to the aromatic, herb-tinged finish. Drink now through 2029.
NOTE: No Zym wines were tasted for 1990 and 1997, as the producer was not
founded until 1999.

DEC. 15, 2016 WINE SPECTATOR

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