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Amarone Opera Prima 2023

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

This year’s two day event was held once again at the Palazzo Della Gran Guardia, situated in the historic centre of Verona.

The Press Day started with a Masterclass presented by J.C.Viens* and Enrico Nicolis, together with a ten bottle tasting, live media display and discussion.

Before we get to Masterclass Tasting Notes, it is probably wise to first understand the different styles of Valpollicella wine.

There are four primary styles of wines in Valpollicella. In order of intensity from the least to the most:

1) Valpollicella

2) Valpollicella Ripasso

3) Amarone della Valpolicella

4) Recioto della Valpolicella

These wines are all made from the same varieties of grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone and Molinara. It is the winemaking technique that characterises the difference.

1) Valpollicella

Fresh wine and a lighter style. I prefer this wine to be slightly chilled as a summer accompaniment to simple and lighter fare. Classico on the label means it comes from the original Valpollicella zone. Superiore on the label means the wine must age for a least one year in wood and have a minimum alcohol level of 12%. These wines are all DOC.

2) Ripasso

This is the small brother of Amarone; made by using fresh grapes, vinified following the harvest and then undergoes a second fermentation using the skins that remain after the grapes are pressed for Amarone and Recioto described below 3) and 4). This gives a fuller, richer flavour to this DOC wine.

3) Amarone

Concentrated flavours of dark fruit and raisins. Grapes are dried on mats or hung from rafters, for extended periods of time (up to 130 days) after harvest. This is process is called appassimento (to dry and shrivel). Drying the fruit concentrates flavours and sugars. This wine is classified as DOCG

4) Recioto

This is an dessert wine made from dried grapes that originates from ancient times. Similar approach to Amarone, but the drying period is longer (up to 200 days).The fermentation is halted before all the sugars are converted to alcohol, this results in a very sweet wine that still retains its natural acidity. This wine is classified as a DOCG.

So to sum up Valpollicella Classico and Superiore are made with fresh grapes.

To make Amarone and Recioto dried grapes are used, producing a fuller bodied wine, higher in alcohol, and built for ageing. To make Ripasso, both fresh and dry grapes are used.

A word about the region: the range of hills to the north of Verona are the Lessini Mountains which form the heart of the Valpollicella wine making denomination. They border on the hills of Lake Garda called Prealpi Gardesiane to the west. Vines have been cultivated here since Roman times.

Amarone della Valpolicella's "Appassimento" wine making technique has ancient origins and requires formidable expertise. During the slow drying period in the “fruttaio” the freshly harvested grapes are placed on shelves of bamboo mats where they are left to "raisinate" and decrease in weight by 35-50%.

The drying conditions encourage a fungus called Botrytis Cinerea (better known as ‘Noble Rot’) to attack the grapes’ skins. This causes the skins to shrivel, reducing the water content, therefore concentrating sugars, but also increasing glycerin. Glycerin is a viscous, colourless and odourless liquid and gives the wine a fuller, more pleasant texture, in addition it helps to smooth the wine’s harshness.

During the time in the fruttaio, Polyphenols increase: these natural compounds are responsible for the wine’s astringency and colour, as well as providing potent antioxidant effects, they are wine’s natural preservatives, assisting greatly in the long term ageing potential.

Flavonoids also increase, these are natural substances and are known to help to metabolise and for their benefits to health, such as anti - inflammatory effects.

Finally a word on Anthocyanins, they are a group of pigments in grapes which are an important quality parameter and contribute an appealing colour and antioxidant activity to dark skinned grapes.

Amarone winemakers mostly prefer natural drying to controlled drying. However, this leads to a considerable amount of time spent in the fruttaio, monitoring the temperature and humidity ...and opening and closing the windows!

Despite this long process, sugar concentration of the final product does not increase indefinitely but tends to level off after a period of time.

Enough of the science! “I hear you scream… After"raisinating" and fermentation Amarone undergoes a period of ageing of a least 2 years, starting from 1st January of the year following the harvest. Ageing usually takes place in French or Slovenian casks, Tonneau, or 225 Litre Barrique followed by a minimum of a year refining in the bottle.

Before my first set of Tasting Notes from the Amarone Masterclass, a word about the weather and style on the 2018 vintage:

Overall warmer than the average of previous years recorded in August. Wines slightly less structured, but with forward acidity, that gives, in most part, freshness and great ageing potential. Tannins are markedly less forward. The net result: not many wines are out of balance. Generally regarded as a 3 star vintage (out of 5).

Tasting notes from Amarone vintages from 2006 to 2016 (Masterclass)

Tenuta Santa Maria

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2016

Deep ruby red in colour. Rich deep blue florals. Blackcurrant, blueberry, prune, herbal notes, bitter orange peel.Warm entry, concentrated core fruit with fine grained integrated tannins and pin point fresh acidity. Secondary nuances of dark chocolate and sour white cherry. Clean long conclusion.

Points 91 TW

Stefano Accordini

Il Fornetto Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2016

Deep ruby red in colour with black undertones. Crushed old English red rose petal and violet florals. Blackcurrant, blackberry, dark plum, Eastern spice, camphor, blood orange. Menthol infused herbal notes, notes of sweet tobacco. Warm rich, silky entry. Citrusy nuances. Expands across the mid palate bringing a deep textural feel. Articulated finish.

Points 91 TW

La Collina dei Ciliegi di Armando Gianolli

Ciliegio Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2015

Medium to deep ruby red in colour.Red rose florals, gardenia and bluebell. Bing cherry, pomegranate, damson, dewberry, star anise and bitter almond. Cool entry. Expands rapidly across mid palate. Showing a broad sway of plush, juicy fresh fruit. Finely textured. Balanced. Intense. Medium length.

Points 92 TW


Le Balze Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2015

Medium ruby red in colour. Dry meadow florals with an underpin of violet. Bing cherry, blackcurrant, boysenberry, rhubarb, tea tree, fennel seeds. Balanced like a ballerina. Wonderful fresh acidity keeps the rich body pulsating, and lifts the entire experience. Broad, juicy close goes on for minutes.

Points 93 TW

Famiglia Bennati

Cêrâsum Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2013

Medium ruby red in colour. Aromatics of violet, hyacinth and gardenia. Red and black berry fruits, salty liquorice, blood orange, cinnamon and black tea. Dense and sumptuous. Balanced. A shade under full bodied. Linear. Glorious citrus fresh notes on the close.

Points 92 TW


Bosan Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2013

Deep ruby red in colour. Aromas of violet, bluebell and hyacinth. Sour cherry, boysenberry, menthol notes, star anise, pipe tobacco, dark scented spice. Complex layered minerality. Needs plenty of aeration. Rose petal aromatics on the close.

Points 90-92 TW

Luca Anselmi Falezze

Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2013

Deep ruby red in colour. A heady mixture of blackberry, dark spice, sweet tobacco, herbal notes, liquorice and white balsamic nuances. Silky smooth entry. Engaging textural feel. Rich body. Fine tannins vie with zesty acidity. Everything in the right place.

Points 93 TW

Monte Zovo

Amarone della Valpolicella 2011

Intense ruby red in colour. Bing cherry, blackcurrant, blueberry, dewberry, asphalt, dark spice, liquorice and bitter chocolate. Cool entry. Light in texture. Secondary notes of orange peel. Freshness due to zesty acidity. Wave upon wave of textural richness. So developed. Concise and complex.

Points 94 TW

Domini Veneti

Amarone Mater Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2008

Deep ruby red in colour. A mixture of ripe black berry fruit, marzipan and pink rose petal. Dark cherry, raspberry, camphor, tar and caramel. Concentrated and potent. I understand 130 days of drying! Volume 17%. Not a shy personality!

Points 92 TW

Valentina Cubi

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2006

Deep ruby red in colour. Blue florals vie with dark spice. Prune, plum, and black fig. Lightly textured. Dried herbal notes. Crunchy tannins. Bright. Tons of energy. Complex. Savoury and a little wild. Shows class from the start. A beauty!

Points 95+ TW

An engrossing and informative video interview with the highly respected and knowledgeable J.C.Viens

Tasting notes of the 2018 vintage

Accordini Stefano

Acinatico Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2018

Medium ruby red in colour. Aromas of dark blue florals and rose petal. Blackberry, dark cherry, dewberry. Rich and concentrated. Mid palate showing textural depth. Broad and juicy. Full bodied with pulsating energy. Medium length on the close.

Points 92 TW

Benedetti Conte Antica

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Medium ruby red in colour. Aromas of blackberry, tar and tobacco. Blackcurrant, liquorice, orange peel, dark Eastern spice. Silky entry. Lightly textured. Juicy. Wide shoulders. Piercing acidity keeps rich body focused. Long fresh finish.

Points 93 TW


Valpantena Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018

Deep garnet red in colour. Aromatics of spring cut flowers and gardenia. Red cherry, pomegranate, liquorice. Strong unwavering savoury line. Secondary nuances of orange peel, cinnamon and clove. Sweet juicy entry, rapidly expands across mid palate in harmony, showing citrusy edged acidity and complex layered minerality. Medium length on the finish.

Points 95 TW


Le Origini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG 2018

(Wine not yet on the market)

Lifted aromas of mint infused redcurrant, boysenberry and sweet tobacco. Dark cherry, star anise, dried plum, spiced orange zest. Dry entry, showing structure of solid core black fruits. Tannins have all but disappeared, leaving low level of acidity to continue its work. Slightly unbalanced. A touch lean. Sour drying notes on the close.

Points 86 TW

Cà La Bionda

Ravazzōl Amarone della Valpollicella Classico DOCG 2018

Deep ruby red in colour. Aromatics of violet, bluebell and hyacinth florals. Blackberry, blueberry, salty liquorice, orange peel, camphor notes with caramel infused dark chocolate. Elegant silky entrance, saturates the palate with stunning depth and volume. Finely sculpted. Long articulated finish. Wow.

Points 96 TW

Azienda Agricola Camerani Marinella

Adalia Amarone della Valpolicella

DOCG 2018

Medium garnet red in colour. Dusty dark purple florals vie with toasted tobacco powder present the arpmatics. Bing cherry, dark dried plum, white smoke, boysenberry. Smooth entry. Lightly textured. A touch tense on the mid palate but fruit quality attends to a long articulated rich finish.

Points 90 TW


Col de la Bastia Amarone della Valpollicella DOCG 2018

Medium purple in colour. Pink rose petal, violet and hyacinth aromas on the nose. Dark cherry, crushed raspberry, camphor, dusting of sweet scented spices. Cool entry. Expressive notes of graphite minerality. Persistent, long, juicy finish.

Points 92 TW


Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018

Pale ruby red in colour. White cherry. Mulberry, orange peel, Mediterranean herbal notes, blonde tobacco and black pepper. Silky entry. Good energy. Has poise and harmony. Secondary nuances of sweet spice and woody tones. Medium length on finish. Leaves a fresh clean mouthfeel.

Points 94 TW

Le Guaite di Noemi

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Dusty red and dark blue florals.Bing cherry, wild strawberry, blackberry, blueberry jam, lead pencil minerality, tar and distant dark bitter chocolate. Secondary nuances of woody tones and spice laden orange peel. There is a lot going on here. Very expressive. But needs time to put itself in order, relax and come together.

Points 93-95 TW


Conte Gastone Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018

Medium ruby red in colour. White cherry, dewberry, goji berry, liquorice, cedar shavings, blood orange, spice and herbal notes. Delicate and flavourful. Citrusy character. Balanced. Fresh entry that coats the palate with rich fruit and dark chocolate powder, all heightened by complex and layered minerality. Back end showing natural energy to a long close.

Points 93 TW


Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Medium ruby red in colour. Pale rose petal aroma with gardenia. White cherry, dewberry, mulberry, liquorice, notes of pomegranate and blood orange. Blonde pipe tobacco, a dusting of cinnamon and white smoke. Velvety entry, showing finesse, balance and zesty acidity. Broad long and juicy on the close.

Points 92 TW

Roccolo Grassi

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Medium ruby red in colour. Red cherry, pomegranate, blood orange, dark plum, menthol infused herbal notes, liquorice and balsam nuances. Savoury with a saline infused energy. Compact. Balanced like a tight rope walker. Clean and fresh linear close.

Points 95 TW


Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2018

Medium garnet red in colour. Red and black fruits. Potent. Inward looking. A touch one dimensional. Liquorice and espresso aromas on the close.

Points 88 TW

Santa Sofia

Amarone della Valpollicella Classico DOCG 2018

Medium to deep ruby red in colour. Red cherry, blackcurrant, sweet tobacco, liquorice, humus, dark Eastern spice, candid orange peel, cigar box. Secondary nuances of violet florals, crushed rook minerality, and distant balsam notes. Silky smooth entry, completely woven tannins and acidity. Fresh. Complex. Intense and flavourful. Lingers on the close.

Points 95 TW


Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Deep ruby red in colour. Heady bouquet of violet, hyacinth and gardenia. Blackberry, blackcurrant, dewberry, tobacco, liquorice, balsam and blood orange. Rich. Lightly textured. Totally focused. Engaging. Expressive. Articulated finish.

Points 94 TW

Secondo Marco

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Intense ruby red in colour. Delicate florals of rose petal, violet and bluebell. Wild black and red berry fruits. Salty liquorice, sweet blonde tobacco, juniper, citrus peel. Dusty tannins vie with fresh zesty acidity. Light in texture but showing great depth. Medium length on the finish.

Points 92 TW

Valentina Cubi

Morar Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Deep ruby red in colour. Elegant bouquet of dark florals and black fruit. Blackcurrant, blackberry, dark cherry, graphite, clove and orange peel. Extraordinary juicy. Medium bodied. Lightly textured. Great depth. Poised and persistent. Tons of energy. Broadens of mid palate and loiters on the close.

Points 95 TW

Villa San Carlo Wine

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Medium ruby red in colour with pink highlights. Aromatics of violet and floral underbrush. Red and black berry fruit, blood orange, salty liquorice, dried plum. Light in texture. Compact tannins with tight zesty acidity. Hopefully will add weight as the years progress.

Points 90-92 TW


Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2018 (barrel sample)

Intense ruby red in colour. Extraordinary heightened aromatics of blackberry, prune, black tea and florals of violet and hyacinth. Tip toes across the mid palate enticing the senses to riot. Each footprint firmly impressed on the memory bank. Seductive in the extreme. A liquid pleasure bomb!

Points 97+ TW

© Tony Wood Italian Wine 2023

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Mar 23, 2023

Thanks Prof. 99.9 I’ll take that as a pass then.😂


Dear Tony
Once again enjoyed your professional tasting notes
I am a member of a Belgian wine forum, the wine lovers  
I have also posted a link to your site on the forum -->
Mar 23, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your kind words. Good fine hunting.Tony.