83 shades of Amarone 2013

Certainties and perplexities from the Anteprima in Verona, tasting a truly varied vintage

Our collaborator Raffaele Foglia went to Anteprima

Our collaborator Raffaele Foglia went to Anteprima Amarone in Verona. Here’s his report

When leaving Anteprima Amarone, at Palazzo della Gran Guardia in the historic centre of Verona, you feel like the 2013 vintage put the producers of Valpolicella to the test, both in the “classic” zone and in the “extended” one, managing to make virtues and defects of each single wine emerge. It is a known fact, after all, that the best vintages make it easier to make a good wine rather than a bad one. Yet 2013 did give a few worries.

As stated in the official press release from Consorzio Tutela Vini della Valpolicella, 2013 «will be remembered for the absolute divergence in the climate, between the first phase of the vegetative cycle and the second one, coinciding with maturation. In the first period, vines were subject to a bad climate with frequent rain and low temperatures; on the contrary, from June until maturation, plants were confronted with exactly the opposite weather». And then: «2013 is a vintage that finely represents the climate change, where variable weather conditions are more and more frequent».

Completely different from the classic process, but worth interpreting. During Anteprima Amarone, we tasted 83 different blind samples, some already bottled, some taken from barrels, which highlighted some essential elements. One of the most positive ones was the fact there was no wine showing sensational defects: all the samples were rather neat, on average (except some cork problems at times) and in any case they were of good quality.

However, the tasting allowed to notice three approaches with regards to Amarone: some were traditional, even exceedingly so; others more modern, and certainly less potent; and others seemed to hint at the international market, and were a little distant from the standard qualities of this wine considered the oenological gem of Veneto. Among the 83 tasted samples, there was a huge variety of styles and interpretations, resulting in a multifaceted vintage, with hundreds of different shades.

And then there’s the interpretation of the vintage itself. Unfortunately, in some cases, the wines tasted were rather heavy and a little dull, which are not encouraging signs for a wine like Amarone that is supposed to give its best results in the years to come. I had a few perplexities on the longevity of these wines. Those who gave a good interpretation of the vintage, instead, showed an excellent acidity, with elegant tannins.

Overall, 2013 was a good vintage, though perhaps not exceptional: those who worked well, managed to produce Amarone that can reach, over the years, the highest standards. At the moment, however, we’re speaking of potential value: the wines should all be tasted again in a while. The overall quality, in any case, was rather high.

In the blind tasting, a winery surprised me: Albino Armani in Marano, having brought two great products: Amarone Albino Armani and Amarone Classico Cuslanus (both barrel samples still not on sale). The latter is the more traditional of the two, with a remarkable note of fruits on the nose, but also excellent elegance. The second has perhaps more structure on the palate and is complex and varied on the nose; a more rustic wine that will need time.

Egle Capilupi Armani

Egle Capilupi Armani

Albino Armani from Marano produces 70 thousand bottles over 28 hectares in Valpolicella. They also have vineyards in Trentino (Vallagarina), Val d’Adige in Veneto, in the Marca Trevigiana and in the Grave in Friuli, for a total of 250 hectares. «But we’re strongly focusing on Valpolicella – says Egle Capilupi Armani – where we’ve just finished the new cellar. We’re trying to produce Amarone that can faithfully represent the territory. In particular, we’re convinced that the territory of Marano, in the Classic area, has a huge potential».

From Negrar, instead, arrives the Amarone produced by Damoli, a farm with two and a half hectares and 7 thousand bottles: this Amarone is really interesting, rich and complex, but not tiring, and with a very long finish. In order to drink it, however, you’ll need to wait a year (and rightly so): it will be sold as of 2018, the tasting was from a barrel sample. Another wine that needs some waiting is from Corte Rugolin, which will be sold as of September: but even then, it’s best to leave it to refine in bottle as it has a great potential.

Finally, here’s an unordered list of other wines worth mentioning: Degani, two wines (Amarone Classico and Amarone Classico La Rosta) both bottled and already pleasant, Roccolo Grassi, a powerful and intense Amarone, yet still “hard” on the palate, La Dama, which will be sold as of May 2018 and still needs a lot of rest, but has also got a very intense bouquet of fruit and spices, La Giuva, very elegant, Domìni Veneti, with a complex nose and good acidity in the finish, and Tezza, whose Amarone della Valpantena Riserva Brolo delle Giare has what it takes to be a champion and a remarkable range of aromas. But for this we’ll need to wait a lot: it will be sold as of 2020.

In cantina

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Raffaele Foglia


Raffaele Foglia

A journalist for La Provincia di Como, sommelier and craft beer lover. He believes every glass of wine has a story worth telling. He's part of the wine editorial staff at Identità Golose

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