Get to know Amarone


Amarone is an underappreciated fine wine that may be new to many wine drinkers.

Amarone comes from northern Italy and is made in a process requiring the grapes be dried before being pressed for their juice.

This column is another in a series of interviews with winemakers, owners and families about their passion for winemaking.

Pierangelo Tommasi is a member of the fourth generation of Italians making Amarone wines. The Tommasi family owns several Italian estates and makes a variety of Italian wines. Pierangelo is something of a family spokesman. He works to market the Tommasi wines.

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When a family business is rooted with such history, the passion is easy to understand.

“The time, labor and materials that go into crafting each bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella Classico set Amarone apart from other Italian wines, as few are as distinctive or precious as Amarone,” Tommasi said. “Our Amarone is produced from indigenous grape varietals, Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta grapes, all of which have thick skins, allowing them to dry for 100 days on bamboo racks with constant air circulation.”

The process of aging is unique for Amarone. During that drying period, the grapes lose about half of their weight, but the juice is concentrating. The wine is fermented and gains the color from skin along with the tannins and structure needed for a great wine. After fermentation, the wine is aged for three years in large oak casks.

Amarone is known as a wine of great depth and richness. And obviously, it’s wine made from grapes, which most Americans have never heard of previously. It is unlike other wines.

“Amarone is a complex wine, but it is one of the most historical and beautiful expressions of one of the most esteemed Italian wine regions,” Tommasi said. “Consumers should not be intimidated by the blend of grapes that go into Amarone. They should instead focus on the long aging potential of the wine and the full-bodied yet smooth and elegant characteristics that make it a favorable wine to pair with food.”

While the drying period is typically 50 days, Tommasi lets the grapes dry for longer than the minimum 100 days to maximize the flavors.

Amarone wines are not inexpensive. The labor and time involved in making and aging the wine push the average retail higher than many bottles. The minimum range for Amarone is around $50 to $60 with prices going up from that entry-level bottle.

“Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is a wine one can proudly serve for special occasions, paired with red meats and ripe cheeses,” Tommasi said. “It is also a fantastic standalone wine with the perfect balance of intense berries and soft tannins to make it easy to sip on its own. An ideal companion to enjoyable conversation.”

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