Amarone is a red wine blend, pronounced AH-MA-ROW-NAY, most commonly made from Venetian grapes Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Molinara. The grapes are grown and produced in Valpolicella, located in the Veneto region of northern Italy. What makes these wines unique is the process that takes place after harvest known as the “appassimento process.” Traditionally, after harvest, they were laid out on straw mats to turn into raisins in the sun. Nowadays, the grapes are laid out on wooden racks in climate-controlled drying rooms called Fruttaio.
How Are Amarone Wines Made?
The basic idea is to dehydrate the grapes, which in turn, increases the concentration and the sugar in the grape, adding richness, balance and a higher alcohol content to the final product. Due to the dehydration in the grapes, it takes twice as many grapes to produce the wine, which has a lot to do with the very expensive price tag associated with it. This process takes place for anywhere from about 90 to 120 days. Like all wines, there are different styles determined by the producer’s style and the location of where the grapes are grown, and of course, the blend that is put into the wine.
Amarone Taste & Structure
When it comes to Amarone, it is very important to know the style that you are drinking. When people think about Amarone, what typically comes to mind is full-bodied, robust with dark fruit flavors of prunes and plums. This can be the case but there is also a leaner style with more acid and structure that has a bit more longevity. A very large factor is ripeness at harvest and the length of the appassimento process. As the grape ripens it loses acidity, so the producers that pick early in the season have the tendency to have a wine that will have a more maintained acidity. Producers that allow their grapes to ripen longer will exhibit wines that have lower acidity.
Another important factor is the appassimento process. Producers that allow for longer drying times will often have more raisinated and pruney styles. Conversely, the ones that don’t dry their grapes as long will give you a slightly leaner style with more notes of cherry and plums.
Amarones can range anywhere from 14%-18% in alcohol content, so even the leaner expressions are strong wines.