What’s the Big Deal About Amarone was recently published in Wine Searcher. I learned some interesting things about myself when I wrote this piece.
Terre di Fumane", a large setup that several producers co-own, that I learned something about appassimento, the drying process. In the first few days in the fruttaio it is critical that the drying process has the right balance of airflow and control of humidity. If not, the stems will rot and develop off flavors and aromas that will affect the flavor of the finished wine. The grapes usually spend three, maybe four months in the drying room. But the top priority is the stems are not allowed to decay and incubate minute fungi.
Right then, the light went off in my head. All these years I thought something was wrong with me. But this goes back 20-30 years ago.
I know there are those out there who stress balance in a wine. With balance, even at 15%, these minor frustrations can be met with, peaceably. I understand that, intellectually. But my stomach, my head and my inner aesthete have a vote in this as well.
I’ve had run-ins with the inner aesthete, before, so I knew this wasn’t insurmountable. I also had to make sure I wasn’t messing up the visceral part of this triumvirate. Headaches and bubbling stomachs aren’t my cup of tea.
So, I went tasting. At first, small sips. Slowly, step by step.
Le Ragose and Valentina Cubi. L’Arco and Quintarelli. Tenuta San Antonio and Allegrini. Many nights during Vinitaly, outside of Verona, in Palladian palazzos, sipping older, younger, drier and sweeter versions of Amarone. I’m not going to lie and tell you this was my “Sideways” moment. I don’t think Amarone is really calling me, as in a “Siren call.” But I did find myself falling a little, this strange love, with a seductively full-figured wine.
These past few years I have been racing after lean, no-frill, high acid wines - my “skinny” addiction. Now, after wrapping my arms around Big Red, I’m a changed person. I see things differently. I’m no longer afraid. I think I have finally learned to stop worrying and love the fruit-bomb. And I'm darn lucky in that I have Amarone to thank for all that.
written and photographed (with the exception on the photo montage, the image of Slim Pickens riding the Bomb) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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