The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 26 of 108

26 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 { italy } "AMERICAN PEOPLE LOVE THIS STYLE— this creamy, oaky, cherry-vanilla style that to us may lack typicity," said Gabrielle Rappo, Zonin 1821's representative in Verona at Anteprima Amarone 2012, where about 75 producers first showed their 2012 vintages for trade and consumers. "Italians usually look for more freshness and acidity in their Amarones." Other producers, both at the event and at their vineyards throughout the region, speculated that the increasingly sweet qualities found in many contempo - rary Amarones might confuse consumers raised on the higher acids and tangy bitter- ness the wines were once known for. But many producers apparently see their for tune in Nor th America, both the U.S. and Canada where the more raisinated and fruit-plus-oak–driven wines are very popular. Many are opting for new oak barriques as they push toward the more international styles and eschew the large, well-used Slovenian barrels that some producers still swear by. Producers including Novaia and Falezze leaned more toward the classic style, while wines from Bolla and Sar tori showed more fruit and softness, for example. The valleys surrounding Verona in northeastern Italy may have been known for wine since Roman times, but its most sought-after product, the fully-fermented descendant of the older and sweeter recioto style, is rather modern, being first commercialized in the 1950s. While signifi - cant diversity exists today among produc- ers, typically Amarones are full-bodied, with high extract and high alcohol (15–16%), robust and complex with deep flavor con- centration. Once, they were known more for balance between fruit and acidity and a slightly bitter finish (hence Amarone, Italian for "great bitter") but today the wines are as likely to resemble steakhouse favorites, a Northern Italian alternative to rich and fruity Napa Valley Cabernets. At this first public group showing of wines from what most vintners called a very difficult year, caused by a torrid summer following a wet spring, both the fruit-driven and the more tangy and bitter styles could be found, although the wines themselves proved to be equally difficult in many cases. Christian Marchesini, President of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella, said while many consumers are looking for lower- alcohol wines today, this would unlikely effect Amarone, as its reputation and unique qualities almost guaranteed it a market. With the wines made almost entirely from autoch - thonous grapes—the mainstay Corvino providing backbone, body and acidity, with Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara the most common companions in the mix—as well as the beneficial influence of Lake Garda and the traditional style of drying grapes before press - ing, forces have combined to make Amarone "a wine that cannot be copied," he said. Still, other changes are being noted in the area beyond the further evolution of Amarone's style. For instance, the introduc - tion in the 1990s of Guyot vine training seems to have peaked, with many vineyards being returned to the locally traditional per- gola training that better protects the easily sun-scorched varietals from the increasingly warmer summers. Vineyards in Valpolicella. A Tale of Two Styles CATERING TO BOTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN TASTES, AMARONE ANTEPRIMA SHOWS ITS "DIFFICULT" 2012 VINTAGE by Jack Robertiello PHOTOS COURTESY OF MEDIAWINE

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