Amarone/Recioto

Photo: La Foresteria Serego Alighieri

Amarone/Recioto

Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina (45–95%, of which up to 50% could be substituted with Corvinone), Rondinella (5–30%) and other approved red grape varieties (up to 25%). Valpolicella is in the province of Verona, within the large Veneto region near Venice. Notable wines have been produced there since ancient times. The wine was assigned Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in December 1990. On 4 December 2009, Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella were promoted to the status of Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). The name Amarone literally means "the Great Bitter"; originally, this was to distinguish it from the Recioto produced in the same region, which is sweeter in taste.

Grapes are harvested ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, to let the air flow. Grapes are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats. This process is called appassimento or rasinate (to dry and shrivel) in Italian. This concentrates the remaining sugars and flavours and is similar to the production of French Vin de Paille. The pomace left over from pressing off the Amarone is used in the production of Ripasso Valpolicellas.

Modern Amarone is produced in special drying chambers under controlled conditions. This approach minimizes the amount of handling of the grapes and helps prevent the onset of Botrytis cinerea. In Amarone, the quality of the grape skin is a primary concern, as that component brings the tannins, color, and intensity of flavor to the wine. The process of desiccation not only concentrates the juices within the grape, but also increases the skin contact of the grapes. The drying process further metabolizes the acids within the grape and creates a polymerization of the tannins in the skin that contributes to the overall balance of the finished wine.

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