Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Report from … Amore di Amarone – October 4, 2010

This afternoon it was an Italian wine lovers wet dream as the big names in Amarone came to town for the first ever appearance of ‘Famiglie dell’Amarone d’Arte.  The Italians are known on American shores for the 5 families (that is in thanks in no small part to the Godfather movies), but there are 12 families that make up this group from the Veneto region (where Amarone is king and where Valpolicella and Ripasso also play a part).  The goal of these families is “to establish fundamental guidelines that will ensure Amarone remains one of the world’s most iconic wines.”  Today they took that message out to the media and masses of Toronto (at the downtown King Edward hotel) and while many in attendance didn’t need the reminder it is always good to be re-introduced to old friends.

6 wines seemed to stand out from the 26 that were poured this afternoon – 3 bubbled under the 3 best – here are the wines, with a little snippet about each house that makes it (as taken from the tasting book):

Bubbling Under (but not by much) …
The Quote: “The farm that houses the Brigaldara winery has been in the Cesari family since 1928, but it was only in 1978 that Stefano Cesari began producing wine as a hobby.”
The Wine: Case Vecie Amarone della Valpolicella 2005 ($59.00) – cherry and chocolate with plenty of power from the tannins, but it’s those cherries that you remember as they quite simply pop on the mid-palate. (****)

The Quote: “The story of Masi begins in the 18th century with the purchase of the “Vaio dei Masi” vineyard near Verona by the Boscaini family.  This vineyard … gave its name to the company …”
The Wine: Campolongo di Torbe Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004 ($99.95) – a beauty in the bottle (and your glass) black cherry, chocolate, silky yet still gritty tannins, needs time but will reward handsomely. (****½)

Tenuta Sant’Antonio
The Quote: “They released their first wines in 1995, and since then tenuta Sant’Antonio has garnered accolades the world over – including a Gold Medal for their 2006 Amarone Selezione Antonio Castagnedi at this year’s International Wine Challenge in London, England.”
The Wine: Selezione Antonio Castagnedi Amarone della Valpolicella 2006 ($41.95) – “Dad likes food friendly wines.” Son of the owner Armando told me, and the wine is looking for a nibble to pair with – this one is smooth, balanced and very fruity, pleasant and easy drinking, deliciously pleasing on the palate. (****)

The Best Wines of the Day – Top 3 …
The Quote: “Musella has introduced biodynamic practices to their winery to reflect their passionate relationship with the land.”
The Wine: Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2006 ($52.00) – lovely and smooth with cherry, plum and mocha notes; this one caresses the tongue as it courses thru the mouth, and its quite the bruiser at 16% alcohol. (****½)

The Quote: “Tommasi has specialized in the production of Amorone for decades, and has become a deserved principal ambassador for this celebrated and characteristic Italian wine.”
The Wine: Vigneto Ca’Florian Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998 ($89.00) – this was one of the nicest old wines at the tasting (and there was about half a dozen), still with lots of fruit and big spice; gritty wood-like tannins poked through at first but then moved into really sweet fruit. (****½)

The Quote: “Sergio Zenato and his wife Carla founded the Zenato winery in San Benedetto di Lugana, near Lake Garda, in 1960.  The successful range of white wines he produced, using the local grape variety Trebbiano diLugana, is widely credited with putting the appellation on the wine map.”
The Wine: Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006 ($47.95) – pure sweet fruit ripe and red with plums and chocolate, sweet cherries, nice silky tannins, this is delicious both on the nose and on the palate; there is also a massive 16.5% alcohol which doesn’t hurt when it comes to appearing sweet. (****½)

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