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Amarone Wine Tasting



The Wines

2000 Giuseppe Lonardi Ripasso de Valpolicella Classico Superiore
1988 Tommasi della Valpolicella Classico
1991 Brigaldara della Valpolicella Classico
1993 Tommasi Della Valpolicella Classico


The Food

Antelope Burgers w/Shiitake Port Sauce

Braised Short Ribs

Wine Risotto

Cottechino with Lentils

Haricots Verte

Sweet Soprasotta

Pierre Robert

Bonde de Satine

Breads:  Como & Raisin-Pecan




Several years ago I had my first tasting of Amarone.  At the time I knew nothing about it and my first sip was not all that enticing.  I realized later that this wine needs some time.  It can’t go directly from bottle to glass or at least not with the best result.  After that initial taste I was intrigued but couldn’t quite make myself pay the price for a bottle of wine that I wasn’t sure I would like – Amarones start in the $50 range and go up from there.  At some point I happened to be in a local wine shop when they were doing their semi-annual purge – removing older wines to make way for new – and found a few bottles of Amarone significantly marked down.  I grabbed two of them and a few weeks later found another at a great price.  I put them away with the idea of doing a tasting at some point. 

Well, months led to years and I’d never quite found the right time to have them.  I decided I needed to just make the right time.  Amarones are normally consumed between 10 and 15 years.  My oldest bottle, a 1988 was well past even the 15 year mark.  So last night I had a few friends over and we cracked open the bottles.  I also included a Ripasso, a wine I accidentally found while searching for wines from Lombardy for a dinner club meeting last year. 

To explain Ripasso I first need to explain Amarone.  Amarone is made in the Veneto region of Italy.  It is made from grapes that are picked and then air dried for two to three months.  This results in very concentrated sugars and a resulting full-bodied, high alcohol wine.  The drying also results in a very earthy taste.  Ripasso is the "poor man’s Amarone".  It is made by taking Valpolicella wine and running it across the lees of Amarone which causes a refermentation process.  This wine exhibits some of the attributes of Amarone without incurring the cost associated with the special handling needed for an Amarone.

Finding food to accompany Amarone is a fun challenge.  In the Veneto, Amarone often accompanies game.  To that end I wanted to find some bites that would evoke that wildness and work well.  I happen to have on hand some ground antelope, courtesy of my brother-in-law from one of his hunting expeditions.  Braised beef seemed like it might provide another good option and then I decided to round it out with Cottechino, which just seemed like it might work. 

In the next few posts I’ll cover tasting notes and recipes and let you know what I thought worked well. 

  1. 08-Mar-2006 5:18 pm

    It\’s amazing how hooked up you are!!  Great stuff.  Cheers, -BH

  2. Culinary permalink
    09-Mar-2006 6:45 am

    Hey, BH!  Thanks!  I try to enjoy every bit of life and that leads me to keep moving. :-)

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