Amarone, the most highly regarded of Verona’s wines, is the product of a process that brings together three important actors: the vineyard, the fruttaio (or drying loft) and the wine cellar.
Five varietals are combined to produce this Italian excellence: Corvina veronese, a noble varietal (percentages vary from 45 to 95%) prized for its structure, aromas and smoothness, Corvinone for aromatic complexity, Rondinella (from 5 to 30%) for color and sapidity, Molinara for freshness and Oseleta for color and structure. Other local varietals (like, for example, Negrara, Forsellina, Dindarella, Rossignola …) can also be used, but in smaller proportions.
Harvesting and Drying
At harvest time, the loosest bunches are selected by hand (this prevents moisture from lingering between the berries as they dry out and mold from forming).
The bunches are laid out on the traditional “arele” (reed mats) or in wooden or plastic trays inside the fruttai, or drying lofts. The duration of the drying period depends on that year’s climatic conditions, but it generally extends until mid-December. This crucial stage is watched over with vigilance, to prevent the formation of harmful molds and to avoid making wines that are too concentrated, inelegant and excessively high in alcohol.
As they dry, grapes shed at least half their weight, their acidity diminishes, the ratio of fructose to glucose changes, the polyphenols become more concentrated and glycerin levels rise. The pressing and fermentation occur after the drying stage has been completed.
The merits of waiting
The Famiglie Storiche all subscribe to the “wait and see” philosophy for aging Amarone, patiently awaiting the right point in the maturation process to obtain a structured wine, with great balance and harmony, a wine with a long and extraordinary story.
Amarone is a remarkable wine: made from dried grapes, it delivers unexpected satisfaction in the glass: initially thought of as a wine to be enjoyed alone, it pairs well with traditional dishes but is also a fine accompaniment for any complex dish with a pronounced flavor. Although it is still perfectly fine all by itself.