Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
We all know this romantic drama of William Shakespeare and its bitter end. The English master perfectly new that the true love have a bitter-sweet taste. Like an Italian Amarone. And „amaro” in Italian doesn’t mean, as many may think, sweet but bitter.
Not so far from Julia’s balcony, on bulwarks of Verona the wines are growing. Maybe somewhere there two tragic lovers whisper their love for each other? Or maybe not. But one thing is certain – amarone and Valpolicella region are as beautiful as the story of Romeo and Juliet.
The tradition of wine drying in Valpolicella region is older that Amarone itself. It’s glorious, dry wine is made with this technique only for the last seventy years. Wines are dried after harvest for around three months (appasimento). At the end, from 100 kg of fruits the winemakers get circa 40 litters of wine. In January, or a bit later, they start the slow fermentation. The process is slower because of great accumulation of sugar. It is a big challenge for producers to balance sugar properly, because high amount of sugar can give highly alcoholic wines – sometimes 17 – 17.5% of alcohol.
In the past, wines were dried on a hooks or mates in the attics – above mists – were the air was dry, with no dump and were the temperature was chilly. Today, the drying process is made in chests sorted in warehouses.
You won’t find a lot of people questioning distinguished character of Amarone. But why this is not a rule? Why sometimes the difference between great amarone and bad one is as huge as between Caravaggio and amateur paintings?
Italian winery is epigone of its own successes. To benefit as much as possible
Italians are broading boarders of their greatest regions Chianti, Valpolicella, Soave, Prosecco, etc. And to satisfy the best winemakers they adding „classico” the main name of the wine region. Hope, that Valpolicella region won’t end up at the Slovenia border.
The problem appeared in 1968 when to the area in river Adige valley was added to area Classico. It was the time when Amarone, despite of its international success, started producing average wines. Unfortunately, it was possible because arbitrariness of wines origin is accepted in the region.
The second reason, why we can come across an average Amarone is overproduction of wines dedicate to produce this wine (up to 70% of a whole production in the region). Change of the technique of drying wine grapes (i.e. in warehouses) resulted in ten times bigger product in the last twenty years.
The summary of this controversies might be Sandro Boscaini’s (from Masi) question: Do we want to make great amarone or a big business?
Wines use to produce Amarone (it is permitted to add a few, smaller wines as well):
corvina – 45-95 % (high acidity, aromas, balanced tannins)
corvinone – 0-50% (can be use instead of corvina)
rondinella – 5-30% (very dark colour, lack of aroma)
molinara – 0-10 % (very high acidity, no tannins and aromas, pasty)