Astonishingly, it had been since March 2005 since we had last tasted the great wines of Amarone.
While none of the wines were poor, the top wine finished with everyone's top vote - a rare occurrence. Kristin repeated her first place finish with these wines, clearly showing she knows how to pick a top-level Amarone. And she was the only one who guessed that two of the bottles were the same wines.
First Place: Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera 2007. Tasters found butterscotch, cloves, dark fruit, dust and smoke on the nose. Kristin noted "melted warm butter", while Suzanne said it "makes me want a big steak". Joyce was reminded of something "way back in the stacks of the library", and Andy felt "this wine knows the most interesting man in the world". Flavors of black olives, bitter chocolate, and cinnamon. Powerful but elegant at the same time, with a long layered finish showing smoke and leather notes. Andy felt that this "gives your tongue a hug". Kristin correctly guessed that this was her entry. Everyone voted for this as their top wine, receiving 36 total points. Kristin's bottle. About $65.
Second Place: Salvalai Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2003. Somewhat floral aromas that included lilac, black pepper, cranberry, and pomegranate. Had a freshness to it. Andy found "fresh sawdust" scent, however Suzanne noted "something old". Flavors of ripe plum, black cherry, and leather. Andy felt that it "tastes happy". Received 17 points. Joyce's bottle. About $34.
Third Place: Zeni Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008. Hints of brown on the rim, this exhibited scents of cleanser, dates, and currants. Joyce was reminded of the mild abrasive "Comet". Totally different in the mouth, with notes of citrus rind and cocoa powder. Suzanne felt that it "tastes like a sip of orange juice", and David said that it had a "nice uplift on the finish". Received 12 points. Ali's bottle. About $30.
Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007. Looked unfiltered. Plumeria, pot roast, coffee, bitter chocolate, chlorine, and cherry coke aromas. Earthy. Andy felt that it was "inviting". A bit tannic in the mouth, with flavors of cocoa, cherry, and metal. There was a sweeter candied quality to it that Ali described as "yams from a can". Suzanne felt that it "bites my tongue a little too much". Kristin guessed it was a repeat of another bottle. Received 9 points. Andy's bottle. About $40.
Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007. Looked unfiltered. Offered a nose of dust, prune, blackberry, green pepper, and cloves. Somewhat port-like. Showed its alcohol level, with Ali noting, "I feel like you can just get drunk by smelling it". Cherries, ink, dark coffee, salty air, and bacon flavors. Ali felt that it was "a sticky black cherry", and Suzanne noted that it was "a little sharper". Licorice on the finish. Received 9 points. Suzanne's bottle. About $50.
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel de' Roari 2004. Smelled of green bell pepper, green citrus rind, dark cherry, lead pencil, cedar, red licorice, and black pepper. Had a brighter quality, but also fruity, with raisin, cherry, and Hawaiian punch flavors. Received 1 point from Joyce. David's bottle. About $35.