A fortunate accident, born in our territory
Amarone is a dry red wine DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), which is only produced here in Valpolicella.
Valpolicella is a region in the nord of Verona (Veneto).
The name derives from the adjective “bitter” ( “Amaro” in italian) that distinguishes it from the sweeter brother, the Recioto.
This powerful wine has a recent history, It was born by a mistake around the 1940 by the winemaker Adelino Lucchese.
How is Amarone made? The difference with Recioto.
The grapes (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Negrara) are hand selected in September. We must be carefull to select only the best bunches. These are collected in boxes where they naturally dry till January. So they loose a lot of weight due to the water evaporation. This is known as the appassimento process.
In January the raised grapes are pressed and the fermentation will natural start in few days!
So the main difference between these two wines is in the fermentation: grapes and raising are the same.
The origin was a mistake: the only difference with the sweet Recioto is the fermentation. If you stop the fermentation in the middle, the wine will be lighter in alcool but sweeter. If you don’t stop, the yeast eat the sugar to make alcool. So the wine become dryer and more alcolic.
Around the 1940 a winemaker forgot a barrel of Recioto during its fermentation. The yeasts present in the wine continued to fermentate and subsequently transformed all the sugar into alcohol, making the sweet Recioto a dry wine.
When the winemaker (Adelino Lucchese) tasted that barrel, he was waiting to taste a sweet wine but it was so dry that he said: ” Oh this is an Amarone!”.
We were lucky that he enjoyed the mistake and he bottled: it has bees a so big success that we repeated the mistake every year!
At the time this was considered an abberation, historically Recioto was considered very prestigious wine. However, this was certainly a ‘Happy accident’ because in just 70 years it has become truly famous and appreciated throughout the world.
This is a wine you can drink also alone, with no food pairing. It is considered a meditation wine; a wine you enjoyed at the end of the dinner, in front of the fireplace. You can sip, talk and enjoy the evening with only the glass of wine . This is the best way to enjoy the Forlago!
It is always better to decant a few hours in advance so that the wine can breathe and reveal its true potential.
You can pair this wine with hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or Monte Veronese. Red meat like beef, pork, lamb, wildboard. Or in Verona is traditional the Risotto with Amarone, or the horse meat.
Here Tommaso’s opinion on the Amarone harvest 2018 (it is in italian):
Work on going in the cellar with the Amarone, it a pity you cannot smell the flavours!
Here are some frequently asked questions about Amarone:
The cost of a bottle can vary widely: the vintage, the producer, the selection can increase a lot the prict. A qaulity bottle can cost from 30 to 50 euros if you buy directly from the producer.
It is really important to oxygenate this wine: it is an important bottle and we recommend opening it at least two hours before. Just opened it is closed in the nose and oxygenating it it opens its perfumes and itspleasantness.
The name derives from the word “amaro” to distinguish it from the sweet Recioto and to identify its characteristic of dry and structured wine (read above for more details!).
Of course the Forlago selection, so difficult to produce but at the end we get an incredible meditation wine. Obviously in this answer we are biased! 🙂
The best pairing is with aged cheeses, tasty red meats such as game, braised, Fiorentine, wild boar. In the Veronese tradition it is combined with horse meat or the excellent Amarone Risotto.
It is a wine for special occasions such as an anniversary, an event, a birthday, Christmas or Easter. Nothing prevents you from opening it to enjoy an excellent glass of wine on a normal day!