Best Italian Red Wines in Hong Kong: Amarone Della Valpollicella
The majority of important discoveries are made by accident or by chance
In the case of Amarone, this is also true. The story goes that in 1936 or somewhere around it, a cellarman’s discovered a neglected barrel of Recioto in the corner of the cellar: at first he was quite irritated, fearful of losing a significant amount of wine, however, after opening the forgotten barrel and tasting the mystery wine, he was then very surprised, at what he was tasting. Whether this is a legged or true history, one thing is for sure. That was the year when one of the world’s most popular wines was born!
The term Amarone (meaning “extra bitter”) was coined to distinguish this new wine from the genuine Recioto, a wine with a millenary history. In fact, the Recioto wine was already popular throughout the imperial period. It is documented that to get the wine casks to Rome, special trips were prepared! Amarone is gritty, harsh, and has sharper tannins than Recioto, which is smooth, sweet, and has a lower alcohol concentration.
So, how is it possible for the same wine to be available in two distinct versions?
Well, it turns out that, with more time to rest, Amarone can complete fermentation and consume all of the sugar in the wine. As a result, the wine is well-structured, making it ideal for pairing with aged hard cheeses or traditional foods like or roasts and braised meats.
Pairings that you wouldn’t expect to see with other wines from the past. Yes, Amarone, like Recioto, is made from grapes that have been allowed to dry for at least three months (passite), which causes the flavors to be concentrated and the wine to be quite powerful.
Amarone is classified into several types according on the grapes’ growth area and production procedures.
DOCG Amarone della Valpolicella Types
- Amarone\sClassic Amarone
- Riserva Amarone
- Riserva Amarone Classico
- Valpantena Amarone
- Valpantena Riserva Amarone
Amarone is a wine made to particular specifications from grapes grown in any of the authorized zones.
Amarone Classico is a wine made from grapes grown in the towns of Negrar, Marano, Fumane, Sant’Ambrogio, and San Pietro in Cariano in accordance with the requirements.
Amarone Valpentena is a sub-category of Amarone that contains distinct cultivars, production processes, and organoleptic qualities.
Amarone that has been aged for at least four years.
Amarone Riserva Calassico
Amarone Classico that has been matured for at least four years.
Amarone Valpantena Riserva
Amarone Valpantena Riserva is a four-year-old Amarone Valpentena
All of these definitions and restrictions are in place to protect you, as the consumer, not to cause confusion or complicate things. Only valuable items that represent the expression of a particular people’s territory and tradition are given the DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin). Valpolicella, for example, has a soil and microclimate that is unlike any other in the world. As a result, the denomination is a sign of genuineness!
Believe it or not, these strict rules have been put in place to fight the ever popping out scams and counterfeiting on precious wines. Purchasing high-quality, locally produced goods is thus almost a moral imperative.
Amarone’s organoleptic qualities
What distinguishes this highly appreciated product from others? Let’s go try one of the Luigi Righetti winery’s Amarones.
The Luigi Righetti estate is a modest to mid-sized, family-run winery located in Valgatara, in the heart of Valpolicella Classico. Since 1909, when Angelo Righetti first established himself as a talented winemaker, the Righetti family has focused on creating high-quality wines at a reasonable price. The wines of Righetti have a remarkable blend of fruit, oak age, acidity, and alcohol.
As a result, a line of wines has been created that has good ageing potential while also being suitable for immediate drinking. The practice of drying grapes prior to pressing is the most interesting tradition to emerge from the Veneto region. Traditional beneficiaries of this procedure have been Amarone and “Campolieti,” the Valpolicella ripasso.
Gian Maria (Gianni) Righetti is the Righetti family’s fifth generation to continue the family’s winemaking history. Luigi, Gianni’s father, took over winemaking in the 1940s and was the first in the family to go beyond meeting local demand. Since taking over the winemaking duties in 1985, Gianni has expanded the range to include single vineyard offerings as well as wines with international appeal.
In the vines, Righetti works naturally, using no pesticides or fungicides. In the winemaking, they also use relatively little sulphur. Their wines have free SO2 levels that are barely above or below those that can be measured in a lab, and substantially below those that are acceptable in organic production.
Their 2015 Amarone Della Valpollicella
- It has a deep ruby red color that is gradually turning garnet as time passes.
- The aroma is strong, fruity, and spicy. Small wild berries, cherry, and morello cherry are perceived.
- It’s a robust wine; with a temperature of 16.5 degrees, it’s rich, warm, and structured in the mouth.
- It’s made from a blend of Corvina & Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, (80 percent between the first two , 10 percent and 10 percent respectively).
Uncork the bottle, pour the wine into the glass (or decanter), and set it aside to breathe. After all that time inside the bottle and in the darkness of the cellar, it needs time to “recover” in order for you to appreciate all of its fragrant characteristics! The optimal serving temperature is 18 ° C.
Like they say in Italy, (a cent’anni)….cheers!
How to pair it with food
Amarone is a perfect wine for game, braised meats or traditional meat dishes (Pastissada de caval), stews, braised Amarone, roasts, baked lasagna, gnocchi with cheese, but also with the great classic of the Venetian kitchen which are bigoli with duck sauce.
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