Amarone is one of the world's most distinctive wines. Made in the northern Italian area around Valpolicella, the grapes used to make them (Corvina, Rondinella, & Molinara) are partially dried to concentrate their flavors and sugars. This results in a uniquely Italian wine of big, ripe flavors and alcohol contents of around 15%.
Because of the effort needed to make them, these bottles are generally not inexpensive, but those on a tight budget can find good values. Be careful not to buy the sweet dessert version of these, which usually come in small bottles and are labeled as "Recioto di Amarone" or " Recioto della Valpolicella". The bottles you will be looking for come in the regular 750ml bottle, and are normally labeled "Amarone della Valpolicella" or simply "Amarone".
Kristin had a huge win, not only for the landslide of points, but also for the relative value of her bottle. Only one taster did not give Kristin's wine their top score, and most praised it for its opulent texture and concentration of flavors.
The race was very close for the second place prize, with only 2 points of separation.
First Place: Remo Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998. Appeared a little cloudy, and very thick in the glass. Exhibited a bit sharper nose, with pronounced lavender and mushroom notes. Stephen felt the nose was "fecal", and not unlike a Cotes du Rhone, while Ali noticed "wet earth". Flavors of raisin, prune, fig, leather, blackberries, and flowers. Long, long finish. Andy suggested that it went well with the pate. Alcohol shows up on the finish, along with wood and hints of rubber. Gilles said that it was "voluptuous", and Stephen proclaimed that it "showed up like J. Lo on the red carpet". Received 36 total points. About $35. Kristin's bottle.
Second Place: Salvali Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000. Kristin nailed the description of this wine's nose with "cherry coke", and Ali said that she could "smell the effervescence". Aromas of licorice, dried herbs, crème brulee, and flowers. Andy noted scents of chocolate chip cookies. Tasted of plums, sweet chocolate, licorice, and blueberries. Looked thick in the glass, but tasted thinner. Not as tannic. Received 16 points. About $35. Ali's bottle.
Third Place: Santa Sofia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998. Nose of cedar, plum, currants, and leather. Flavors of ripe plum, preserves, blackberries and ink. Less pepper notes, and was more smooth in texture. A little hot from the alcohol. Pleasant. Received 14 points. About $50. Andy's bottle.
Ca' Del Monte Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1995. Dark color, thick. Very port-like nose, with aromas of apple cider, maple syrup, almonds, and cinnamon. Gilles felt that it smelled of "hot jello" or "sake". Tasters noted flavors of licorice, black cherry, caramel, raisin and celery. Some tannin on the mid-palate, and an slightly hot finish. Received 12 points. Originally $50, but was on sale for half price. Gille's bottle.
Viviani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998. Smelled of honey, dried herbs, anise, smoke, shoe polish and brown sugar. Possessed flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, black pepper, blackberry and tobacco. Moderately long finish, with some rough tannin. A little thinner in body compared to the others. Andy claimed that it "works well with 4 to 6 of the grains" in the 7 grain bread. Received 11 points. About $50. David's bottle.
Villabella Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1999. Andy felt this wine showed aromas of "pot roast" or "cheese", while Kristin felt it was more like "feet". Other tasters noted band-aid, tomato skin, and bell pepper. Ali said that it was "aloof and frustrating", and Andy described it as "not as boisterous". Overall, the wine was neutral and thinner than the rest. Only 3 points. About $40. Stephen's bottle.