Amarone 2009 Preview

Many bottles of Amarone on tasting at Amarone Preview had the label "Sample taken from the barrel authorized by Valpolicella Consortium"
Many bottles of Amarone on tasting at Amarone Preview had the label “Sample taken from the barrel authorized by Valpolicella Consortium”

The tenth edition of Anteprima Amarone took place at the Palazzo della Granguardia (XVII century) in Verona on January 26th and 27th 2013.
Anteprima Amarone has become a very important appointment for wine lovers and professionals: restaurant owners, importers, journalists and wine bloggers, the latter a category regarded with increasing respect and consideration.
The event is organized by the Consortium for the Protection of Valpolicella Wines (Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella) and aims to present a preview of the latest vintage of Amarone about to be bottled and put on the market. This year, the Amarone vintage presented was the 2009.
The event and its format certainly have limits, but for those who have the proper wine knowledge it remains an important and significant occasion for the assessment a specific Amarone vintage.

Anteprima Amarone took place inside Palazzo della Granguardia in piazza Bra, where the Roman amphitheater of Verona is.
Anteprima Amarone took place inside Palazzo della Granguardia in piazza Bra, where the Roman amphitheater of Verona is.
The inside of Granguardia.

First of all, we must keep in mind that wines presented at Anteprima Amarone are those that fall within the minimum requirements of Amarone wine producing regulations. According to these rules, Amarone can be release on the market after a minimum of two years of aging in barrels. Considering the 3-4 months of grapes drying after harvest, this means that the barrel aging of 2009 vintage started in February / March 2010 and the wine was bottled around late 2012 and early 2013. Some wineries hadn’t bottled Amarone yet and in fact they where at the preview with samples taken directly from the barrel. Considering the required months of aging in bottle, the first bottles of Amarone 2009 will appear on the market in late spring 2013.
If two years of aging is the minimum required by Amarone appellation, it is also true that there are many companies that age the wine longer to obtain more complex and evolved Amarones. These wineries usually do not take part in Anteprima Amarone or, if they do, they usually bring their younger wine. It happens for example with Bertani, that brought its Amarone Villa Arvedi but not the Classic (that has 6 years of aging in barrel).
With Anteprima Amarone there is the risk for wine makers, to present wines that are still immature, taken directly from the barrels, not ready to be tasted at their best. That is why the event is designed especially for wine experts and insiders, those who can assess all the above factors and are therefore able to evaluate with the right perspective the potentials, trying to foresee how the Amarone tasted here will be in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years.
To help with this forecast, this year wineries have been allowed to bring, together with the vintage 2009, mature vintages also, that could serve as a touchstone. Of course, every vintage is different, but it is important to have a measure of comparison. Many companies have taken the 2007 and 2008 Amarone, some wineries even older vintages.

Amarone 2009 Vintage Characteristics

A tasting of Amarone

The year 2009 was hot and dry, with a sugar content above average, partly due to high temperatures and lack of rain during the ripening of the grapes. The evolution potential of the wine is considered good.
In general, it the tastings carried out, it appeared a certain lack of acidity, which is confirmed by data collected by the Valpolicella Consortium, made available to the participants.
Low acidity, good alcohol content (almost all the wines tested were about 16%) and body seem to characterize the Amarone 2009 with a certain softness that, seen in perspective, could result in a vintage with reduced aging potential. For an Amarone this could still be 10-12 years but 2009 might be a vintage that is better not to forget in the cellar as it usually happens for other Amarones bottles.

Pastry buffet by Perbellini.
Pastry buffet by Perbellini.

This is obviously a simple estimate, which may not apply to all producers of Valpolicella. Vineyards are not all at the same altitude and for those located higher it is likely that a wider thermal range may have favored the development of a higher acidity.
Another characteristic found in many of the tasting carried out, is foxy and spice aromas, the latter probably due to the fact that Amarones with shorter ageing time are usually aged in barrique. With time, especially during the bottle aging, various aromatic compounds will blend together and harmonize.

55 wineries participated this edition of Amarone Preview. We tasted Amarones from Ca ‘La Bionda, Clementi, I Scriani, Latium, Massimago, Novaia, Pasqua, Roccolo Grassi, Santa Sofia, Secondo Marco, Valentina Cubi wineries.
Tastings were made even more enjoyable by the buffet organized by the delicatessen shop Benedetti with magnificent Monte Veronese cheeses of various ageing periods and a rich selection of cold cuts. The desserts were from renowned pastry shop Perbellini.