Tuesday, February 6, 2024

In Pursuit of Love in Bottle: 5 to try this Valentine's Day!

Whether you are looking to treat your sweetheart or yourself, Valentine’s Day is a time to show your partner how much you care about them, but also a good opportunity to Wine indulge! Here are 5 recommendations that will surely impress your loved ones, besides being perfect pairings for any romantic meal.

Any Valentine’s should start with a fantastic sparkling wine, such as this Bichot Crémant Rosé NV, a delicious Crémant de Bourgogne, featuring a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gamay grapes. It displays fruitful raspberry and strawberry notes, with a touch of zesty citrus and brioche hints. Elegant and crisp, its lively mousse linger into a lovely finish. $31

Crios Sustentia Chardonnay 2022 is an alternative for white wine lovers, but also for those that are trying to lose weight or who want to consume less alcohol this year. This wine has only 9% Abv vs your regular 14% of most wines and only 90 calories per glass, but all of the flavor! Made by Susana Balbo the top female winemaker of Argentina, this refreshing white is made from 100% Chardonnay from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, showcasing tropical notes of pineapple and mango and refreshing floral hints. $18.99

In the mood for something spicy? Try the Varvaglione 12 e Mezzo Primitivo 2020 from Puglia, a 100% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) red. Velvety and mouth filling, it displays blackberry and raisins with hints of licorice, chocolate and spicy cinnamon. Certified organic, it has very balanced alcohol, surprisingly as most Zinfandels I have ever tasted were usually 16% and up and overripe; which makes this wine not only refreshing but truly different. $15.99

Are you feeling extra romantic? Yet your wine palate tends more to the classic blends? Try Château Amour 2016,  an expressive Médoc (Bordeaux) red featuring equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A classic and very seductive wine shows flavorful black/red currants and plum notes, with tobacco and savory coffee hints.  Polished  and medium-bodied, it integrates fruit, acidity and very supple tannins. Bonus, this a Bordeaux true value at only $22. 

And finally, Calcu Fotem Cabernet Sauvignon 2018,  a powerbomb with lots of personality and style from Colchagua, Chile. It shows explosive black cherries and plums with a touch of herbal green pepper notes. Very textured and structured with a solid length and nice cigar box hints on the finish.  $55


 Hoping you will soon give all these a try. Happy Valentine’s Day to all, cheers! Silvina.

#Valentine’sDay #thoughtsoflawina #Valentine’swines #drinkupamerica

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Wines of Altitude

Great wines share some common denominators, factors that directly impact their greatness. Among these, Altitude. Altitude makes great wines and it has always been a key element in vineyard selection, affecting wine style, ripeness, freshness, acidity, tannin and flavor.

All of us know that a successful wine usually comes from the right matching of location, climate and vine variety, a concept known as Terroir. Certain grapes require extra or less warmth, specific types of soils, sunlight and good drainage. Solar radiation, temperature variation, ventilation and winds all come into play when growing grapes. Depending on location and climate, altitude affects the amount of direct sunlight that vines receive, which affects their phenolic concentration and acidity. Altitude wines normally have more weight, acidity and structure from the valley floor counterparts, a direct result of the amount of sunlight they receive.  Sunlight increases with elevation, as UV rays intensify with each 1,000 feet increase. Sunlight and wind exposure also affect tannins, forcing the grapes to produce thick grape skins that provide color and structure to wines. Thicker skins protect grapes from extra solar radiation, from brave winds and from temperature changes that take place at higher elevations. Here is where the famous nocturnal/ diurnal shift of warm days and cool nights is important, because it allows grapes to keep their acidity adding complexity and elegance, which are essential in fine wine production. The temperature shift also promotes a long and slow maturation that will allow grapes to develop more compounds, expressing even more grape flavors.


Altitude also affects drainage, though storms can hit these vineyards hard, because of their inclination, water usually drains to the valley floors, reducing moisture and preventing fungal diseases. The lack of water will force vines to dig their roots deeper into the floor, gathering all types of nutrients and minerals. The water stressed plants usually focus their attention on the development of fruit and not so much on green foliage, which happens with water excess. Of course elevation and inclination has its costs, as most work has to be done by hand.  And all of  this is, not even considering climate change and its effects on viticulture. As global temperatures rise, growers won’t have a choice but to go higher, in order to continue creating the styles of the past when vintages weren’t so warm. This happens because temperatures drop one degree Celsius for each 100 meters of altitude increase.  This is also the reason why winemakers are currently experimenting by planting vines at different altitudes.


But, what is considered a high altitude vineyard? For Europeans high altitude vineyards are those planted at 500+ meters (about 1,640 feet), however in South America where we can find the highest of vineyards (most of which are in Argentina), the minimum starts higher, at 1000+ meters (about 3,280 feet). 


And now to my 3 recommendations from Bodegas Colomé. Founded in 1831 in the heart of the Calchaquí Valley, in Salta, Argentina, Bodegas Colomé is not only the oldest commercial winery but also owns the World’s highest commercial vineyards, planted at 10,300 feet. What can one expect from wines coming from such high altitudes? For starters, deeper colors, concentrated fruit, elegance and fresh acidity and in the case of reds, great tannic structure. Try them and you will discover this is indeed true. And if you have extra $$$ to spare, also try their fabulous flagship wine: Colomé Salta Altura Máxima 2014 tasted at the last Wine Spectator event, an outstanding super Malbec from the highest vineyard of the world. $130


Bodega Colomé Torrontés 2023, $14

Torrontés, the floral and exquisite white grape from Argentina, produces an enticing wine from grapes grown in La Brava vineyard planted at 5,575 feet. This full bodied white displays delicious rose, geranium and grapefruit notes, with lively acidity and a very vibrant finish.

Bodega Colomé Estate Malbec 2021, $27

This delicious 100% Malbec was made with grapes grown from four different vineyards featuring altitudes of 5,575, 7,545, 8,530 and 10,300 feet respectively. This seductive tinto shows violet, cassis, blueberry preserves, dusted cocoa and black pepper notes. Very polished, with the right balance of fruit, tannin and length. 

Bodega Colomé Auténtico 2021, $42

This single vineyard 100 % Malbec is harvested from one of Colomé's best sites located at 7,545 feet. Auténtico is savory, displaying succulent and ripe black currant, black cherries and plum pudding notes mixed with spicy clove, chocolate and graphite hints. A good combination of concentration and finesse. 

 Hoping you will soon give these all a try! Cheers, Silvina

#BodegaColomé #thoughtsoflawina #Altitudewines #Altitude #drinkupamerica #winewednesday

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Overlooked Sparklings: Crémants

I have to admit it, I love Crémants! not only because I love drinking bubbles any time/ any day but because they are a great value, with bottles costing less than $25 each, Crémants cost exactly half of any bottle of NV Champagne. 

Of course the same can be said of Cava and Prosecco, some of which are even cheaper, but what makes Crémants so special is their finesse and quality! Though, they are not exactly French Champagne, but very close and in some cases, as we will see, made from the same grape varieties. But most importantly, they are produced in appellations known for their wonderful still wines, a direct result of the combination of the right terroir, viticulture and winemaking practices, and with an AOC behind guaranteeing not only the quality, but also the typicity of every wine produced.


But what are Crémants?

The French created this term to separate Champagne from all the other sparkling wines made in France.  Yet, Crémants share a few things in common with Champagne, from starters, Crémants are sparkling wines made with a second fermentation in a bottle using the Traditional or Champenoise method. But, Crémants are aged for less time. By law, Crémants must mature on their lees for a minimum of 9 months, similar to the aging of Cavas in Spain and less time than the 15 months required for Champagne. Like in Champagne, the fruit used to make Crémants must be hand harvested for this purpose, and whole bunch pressed with a limited must extraction of a maximum of 100 hectoliters per each 150 kgs of grapes, almost the same as in Champagne. According to Fédération Nationale des producteurs et élaborateurs de Crémants, the bureau who regulates Crémant production, almost 84 million bottles are produced every year. These can be either white or rosé and must come from 8 different appellations that include the following regions: Alsace, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Die, Jura, Limoux, Loire & Savoie, all shown in the map below.



Let's explore the regions a bit further!

Crémant de Bourgogne

This is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir’s native territory, the same grape varieties that are used to make fine Champagne, are used to make Crémant here. Their terroir include soils such as limestone, granite, marl and chalk, which produce some of the most coveted table wines in the world. Let’s not forget that Bourgogne is located south of Champagne and enjoys its cool climate conditions, producing delicious acidity needed to create elegant sparkling wines. Bourgogne produces about 19 million bottles of Crémant  a year in 4 different styles: White Crémant de Bourgogne that could be a blend of Chardonnay, Aligoté and other white grapes. Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs, made from 100 % Chardonnay, Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noirs, made from 100% Pinot Noir and Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne,  made from Pinot Noir on its own or blended with Gamay.


In 2013, two categories were created according to the length of the time these wines age on their lees, the longer the aging sur lie, the bigger the complexity and quality of the wines. Eminent wines are aged for a minimum of 24 months on their lees before dégorgement, while Grand Eminent wines are aged for 36 months, the same time that is required to age Vintage Champagne.

Stylistically, white wines display brioche notes combined with floral, citrus and mineral aromas, Blanc de Blancs show green apples, peach or citrus notes while rosé wines feature red fruit aromas such as raspberry, cherry, blackcurrant and strawberry.


Crémant de Loire

The Loire Valley produces about 17 million bottles of Crémant per year from vineyards located in the towns of Anjou, Saumur, Touraine and Chevery. Since making Crémant from Sauvignon Blanc is not allowed by law, producers use mostly the other important white grape of the Loire: Chenin Blanc, while.  Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are used mostly for rosé Crémant. 

Due to their northerly location, the whole Loire Valley can be considered to have a cool continental climate, with variations. Appellations in the east are influenced by the sea and closer to a maritime climate (mild and humid)  but as one goes inland to the west the climate changes. Soils also vary per region, and can include the following: sandstone, shale, chalk, gravel, sand or clay with silica. Acidity is noticeable in all Loire Crémants which most definitely will contribute to their finesse and freshness. Whites often display citrus (lime or grapefruit notes), quince, chamomile, white flowers and nutty notes while rosés showcase red fruits (red cherry and raspberry) with chalky minerality. 


Crémant D’ Alsace

Alsace produces more Crémant than any of the other 7 appellations, averaging almost 33 million bottles per year.  Crémant d’ Alsace can be made as a blend or as varietal using the following grapes: Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Auxerroirs and Pinot Noir.  That said, white Crémant is mostly made from Pinot Blanc, while Pinot Noir is used to make rosé Crémant. The influence of the Vosges mountains creates dry and sunny conditions, that combined with gneiss, marl clay, marl sandstone, shale and granitic soils, result in grapes of great quality and solid acidity. Alsace Crémants are pure and focused featuring aromas of yellow pears, green plum, white peach and brioche notes. 


Crémant de Limoux

Located in the Languedoc, South of France, Limoux produces  5.8 millions bottles of white and rosé Crémants. Limoux is very important from a historic point of view, as it is the home of the first French sparkling wine, ever produced, at an Abbey in Saint Hilaire in 1531, predating any records of Champagne production.


When dealing with Crémant de Limoux, it is important not to confuse it with Blanquette de Limoux, a sparkling wine from the same region, and also made with the Traditional method, but with a different grape blend. Blanquette de Limoux is mostly made of Mauzac, while Crémant de Limoux is mostly made from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc with a tiny percentage of Mauzac and Pinot Noir, that by law should be less than 20%.

The climate in Limoux is Mediterranean but  moderated by refreshing oceanic influences, altitude also guarantees cool nights as Limoux is located at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains. The soils are rich in chalk, sand and clay.

Stylistically, Crémant de Limoux showcases ripe citrus (orange zest, lemon pudding) and orchard fruit (white peach and apricots), with bright acidity and hints of spice and toasted bread.


Crémant de Bordeaux

Produces about 6.5 million bottles per year. The climate here is maritime, influenced by the sea and humid, featuring mild winters and sunny summers. The grapes used here are Semillon with some Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Rosé Crémant is made from red varieties including all the locals: Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, and tiny amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère.


Crémant du Jura

Produces 1.7 millions of bottles per year. This appellation enjoys a semi continental climate with cold winters,  warm summers and mild autumns. The soils are rich in chalk, clay and shale. Crémant is made of 4 grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard.  

White Crémant must be made of 70% Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Trousseau. Rosé Crémant is mostly made from Pinot Noir, with some Poulsard or Trousseau.


Crémant de Savoie

Produces only 350,000 bottles per year. The Crémant de Savoie appellation is located to the east of Lyon. Crémants de Savoie are made from 60% Jacquère and Altesse grapes (local varieties), the rest could be complemented by Chasselas, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay. Each blend must have at least 20% of black grapes. Soils vary featuring limestone and clay with limestone, which provide finesse to the wines. 


Crémant de Die

This region produces only 202,000 bottles per year, this appellation is located on both riverbanks of the Drome river in South Eastern France. 

Crémant de Die was originally made of only one grape variety: Clairette but these days a percentage of Aligoté and Muscat Blanc are also allowed in the blend. 

Because of its southern location, it’s dry and sunny but with cool nights. With vineyards located at some of the highest altitudes in France, closer to 700 meters and near the Vercors mountains.  Soils are rich in clay and limestone. 


And now to my recommendations. Though 8 regions produce Crémants in France, unfortunately not all of them can be found in the US. The ones most widely available are: Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant Limoux, Crémant de Loire and Crémant D’ Alsace.  I chose my three favorites, hoping that you, my dear reader, will be able to enjoy them during the holidays!


Bichot Crémant de Bourgogne, NV $31

Domaine Bichot is known for producing some of the best red Burgundy wines. They also make a white and rosé Crémant. Their white Crémant is light and crisp, featuring tart green apple, ginger and lemon zest aromatics. It is made from equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 


Cote Mas de Crémant Limoux Rosé, NV $21

Showing a floral bouquet of white roses, with blood orange and peach notes. This seductive Rosé offers a lively fine mousse that invites you to keep sipping. Made from 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir.


Amirault Les Quarterons Crémant de Loire, NV $ 31.99

Made from 100% Chenin Blanc and aged for 18 months on its lees, this enticing Crémant is packed of fruit and acidity, including green pear and grapefruit with brioche and honey hints. Simply delicious!



Wishing all of my readers a Healthy and Happy Holiday season and Happy 2024! Cheers, Silvina.

#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #Crémants  #sparklingwines #drinkupamerica


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Spicy Reds: Carménère!

Spicy reds are full of personality, flavor and pizzazz. Textbook samples of spicy wines are those made from grapes such as Malbec, Barbera, Pinotage, Shiraz and of course Carménère! These happen to be some of my favorite grapes to enjoy in the fall, no wonder I keep coming back to these delicious wines every year, as we transition to cool weather.

Originally from Bordeaux, Carménère, whose name derives from the French carmin (crimson), can be considered the Cinderella of grapes, mostly because at the beginning, Carmenère’s identity was ignored, misunderstood and mistaken to be something else.  In Bordeaux, it is one of the six allowed varieties,  joining the ranks of the classics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. But there, it always played a minor role in blends. Then, in 1869, phylloxera arrived and devastated most of the French vineyards, causing Carménère to become almost extinct. When the time came to replant Carménère, the Bordelais chose not to do so, sticking to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which were better investments and easier to grow.

However, the Cinderella of grapes was destined to survive and thrive somewhere else. Starting in the 1850s,  just a few years  before the appearance of phylloxera in France, Chilean producers imported cuts of all Bordeaux grapes. They did so, like many others, to replicate the wonderful wines of Bordeaux. Cuts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménère were planted all over Chile. But here, Carménère didn’t shine on its own either.  See, the Chileans planted all these varieties, together, in a field blend and not separately as they do today, this resulted in Carménère being mistakenly labeled as Merlot.  The truth is, both grapes are siblings and share some common characteristics. But Carménère matures 3 to 4 weeks later and its leaves turn red during the fall. Because of these facts, Chilean growers started talking about 2 types of Merlot, calling CarménèreMerlot Chileno” or Chilean Merlot.  It was not until 1994, that French ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot discovered, during a visit to Chile, that most of this variety known as Chilean Merlot was in fact Carménère.  A year later, Chilean authorities recognized publicly their mistake and added Carménère to their list of grape varieties allowed by law.

Genetically, Carménère is a cross of Cabernet Franc and Gros Cabernet, having Cabernet Franc as a parent, made Carménère a close sibling of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Carménère shares with them its typical, green herbaceous notes from pyrazines, especially the spicy jalapeño, mint and green pepper found in most Carménères. Carménère also shares with Merlot its plushness, and ripe black fruit flavors that include: plum, blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry notes.  However, Carménère requires more warmth and plenty of sunshine and this is why it does better in Chile than in its native Bordeaux. It’s early budding and likes extra hanging time, deciding its ideal picking time is key to reflect the different styles, with two styles coexisting, the traditional or overripe Carménère, made so to mute the green notes from pyrazines and focusing in its black fruitiness character and the modern style which is refreshing spicy and elegant, showing hints of the pyrazines/green notes.

It took Chilean producers plenty of time and much trial and error to finally figure it out! Today, their aim is to obtain beautiful black fruit, keeping fresh acidity, balanced alcohol, matured tannins and just a touch of Carménère’s herbaceous, vegetal and spicy notes. As you may imagine, sites in Chile are very important, Carménère does not like fertile soils, and it’s mostly planted in decomposed granite, stony gravel and clay (iron rich) soils. It doesn’t like too much water either, as this will exacerbate its green character. Optimal trellising of the vines is used to aid grapes to reach perfect maturity (both in fruit and tannin), and green leafing to control its natural vigor. 

There are over 10,000 hectares of Carménère planted all over Chile, yet it does better in these top wine regions: Colchagua and Cachapoal in the O’Higgins region, Maule and Maipo. Top Carménères come from the appellation of Apalta, in Colchagua, which has a unique microclimate for this grape; other important enclaves include: Palmilla, Marchigüe, Santa Cruz, Peralillo and Nancagua. Famous are the wines from Peumo, located in Cachapoal, known for their structure and ability to age for 15 + years. Pichidegua, San Vicente and Las Cabras are also very good spots, all located in the “Entre Cordilleras” or between two mountain ranges in Chile. In Maule, further south, we find spots such as San Javier, Pencahue and Talca by the Maule River; Molina and Sagrada Familia by the Teno River and Cauquenes.

Stylistically, Carménère yields delicious medium to full body reds, with ripe black fruit, featuring notes of blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry, all of these blended with a touch of leafy freshness from green pepper, kale,  jalapeño or tomato leaf notes. With barrel aging, Carménère will also show vanilla, chocolate, espresso, grilled meats and soy sauce flavors. One of the things I truly love about Carménère is its texture, while Merlot is smooth and plummy, Carménère has a delicious fleshness/meatiness on the palate that makes it an excellent food match, not only to all types of beef and pork dishes (especially BBQ) but also to many vegetarian dishes, such as corn empanadas, vegetable quiche, grilled portobello mushrooms, artichoke pizza, etc. Carménère, like its siblings, also has tannin that provides backbone to its wines, without being as angular as Cabernet Sauvignon. In Chile, it is equally vinified as a varietal (on its own)  but also in blends, providing them with texture, freshness and spice. Besides Chile, where it has become a flagship, there are plantings of Carménère in North East Italy and in Jiaodong, China, where it is known as Cabernet Gernischt.

And now, here are my wine recommendations: 

I was lucky enough to receive plenty of samples, so selecting the final six was not easy. I made sure to select wines in different price points and from different regions, including both the classic and modern styles. While researching for this article I encountered the perfect definition of Carménère as “a jalapeño chocolate bomb”, indeed, if you try them, you will find these notes in most wines made from this variety.

Primus Carménère 2020, Apalta, Colchagua, $20.99
Made from organic grapes, this chewy red was aged for 12 months in 18% new French barrels, it shows ripe plum and blackberry notes, with balsamic hints, a dash of green jalapeño and dark chocolate bits from oak.  Medium plus bodied with grippy tannins that provide tension and structure to what it could be described as a classic or traditional style of Carménère.

Viña San Esteban In Situ Carmenere Reserva 2021, Valle del Aconcagua $13
Hearty yet so smooth, this red included 5% of Cabernet Sauvignon in its blend and is aged in both French and American oak for 12 months. This expansive red shows black cherries, cumin, black pepper and tomato leaf notes. Very balanced tannins lift up the gorgeous finish.

Morandé Carménère Vitis Unica 2021, Maipo $20
A powerbomb red from Cabernet Sauvignon’s own territory: the Maipo Valley. This luscious red  was aged in 2,000 and 4,000 liters foudres (80%) and the rest in French barrels. So fruity, rich and silky, showing plum compote and pomegranate notes,  with spicy cinnamon and roasted coffee bean hints. This is a modern style of Carménère. 

Los Vascos Cromas  Carménère Gran Reserva 2020, Colchagua $23.99
Made from 100 %  Carménère, this appetizing red is saturated with ripe plum and boysenberry fruit, combined with notes of nutmeg, graphite and roasted green pepper. So delicious and smooth, it reminds me of Malbec.

Terranoble Carménère CA2 Costa 2020, Colchagua (Costa) $36
Fleshy red made from grapes grown in granite and clay soils, this single vineyard wine was aged for 16 months, in a mix of foudres and new 300 liters barrels. It shows appetizing blackberry and ash notes, with spicy mint notes from pyrazines and a vibrant finish. Dazzling!

Montes Wings Carménère 2020, Apalta, Colchagua $55
Outstanding red made with grapes from the Apalta vineyard which includes 15% of Cabernet Franc, planted in granite soils. This wine was aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak barrels. One of the finest Carménères I tasted lately, showing  blueberry and blackberry notes with black pepper and garrigue hints. So elegant and linear, with refined tannins, this one will definitely improve with cellar aging. 

Don’t you think it’s time to give all of these a try? I hope you do. Until the next one. Cheers! Silvina.
 

#thoughtsoflawina #Carménère #Chile #DrinkupAmerica #drinkchile #chileanreds

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Powerbomb Wine: Amarone della Valpolicella!

From the Valpolicella region, located to the north and west of the city of Verona, comes Amarone, a very powerful and expressive red wine, made from a blend of three native Italian varieties: Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella, with the occasional addition of Oseleta and Molinara grapes.

It
’s surprising that such a concentrated red can be created but this happens thanks to the Appassimento process, in which grapes are laid out on bamboo mats or plastic bins and left to air dry for a few months, becoming raisins. When this happens the grapes lose about 40% of their weight (mostly water) while sugar levels increase considerably, rendering flavor, high alcohol and glycerol. The raisined grapes are then crushed and pressed, obtaining this concentrated and unbelievable juice. The only risk is the development of mold or botrytis, which could give the wine faulty aromas and flavors, for this reason only, producers opt to raisinate grapes gradually and in special rooms under tight controlled temperature and humidity conditions.


Geographically, the Amarone area is influenced by the Adige river and its many fertile valleys where all types of produce is grown. The Alps in the north and west also have some influence in the vineyards, but not as strong as in the appellations in north Italy. The best vineyards for Amarone are located on undulating hills in the original Amarone Classica zone, and in the Valpantena zone on the east, both featuring well drained, volcanic, sand, clay and gravel soils.  
Pic of grapes air drying and map courtesy of the Consorzio della Valpolicella
 
Because the process of the Appassimento is so labor intensive and lengthy, Amarone wines are not cheap. If you want to spend less, consider trying the Valpolicella Ripasso wines. Known as “baby amarones”, Ripasso wines are made from the same grape varieties but without any appassimento. Instead, producers simply add some Amarone pomace or deposits, which allows them to have some of the concentration and intensity of true Amarones.

Stylistically, Amarones are powerbombs, with full bodies, high alcohol levels (15 to 16º ABV), noticeable tannins and medium to medium + acidity. Their intense and perfumed nose will show notes of  ripe black fruits: blackberry, tart black cherry, prunes, raisins and figs, blended with spicy notes of brown sugar, espresso, chocolate and molasses.
Amarones are usually dry but there’s also a sweet version called Recioto della Valpolicella that may contain from 4 to 50 grams of residual sugar. This residual sugar comes naturally from grapes, as the fermentation is halted before yeasts have the chance to consume it.

According to their minimum aging: Amarones are classified by law, in Normale (normal), which are aged for two years in French or Slovakian oak and Riserva, which is aged for four years. The general practice of most quality producers is to age all wines much longer and up to 10 years, before release.  Because of their massive structure, Amarones will only improve with cellar aging, allowing you to keep them for 20 years or more, concentrating their fig, chocolate and espresso character even further.

Top Amarone producers are Allegrini, Zenato, Masi, Speri,Tommasi, Begali, Musella, Brigaldara, Tedeschi, Guerrieri Rizzardi, Venturini, Begali, etc.
My recommendations include four wines presented during the Famiglie Storiche Amarone Seminar that took place on May, 2023 in New York:

*Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2017, $79.99
*Guerrieri Rizzardi Calcarole Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 $95.99
*Masi Campolongo di Torbe Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2013 $181.99
*Musella Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Riserva 2010 $59.99

Flavorful, powerful, artisanal and delicious, Amarone wines have conquered the hearts of wine fans from all over the world, a treat all of us should enjoy for sure. Cheers! Silvina.

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#thoughtsoflawina #amarone #italianwines