Great ideas always happen while drinking wine, and this great idea is no different. It is such a great idea, infact, that it involves drinking even more wine! It all started when my friend wanted to have a wine night because she had received a bottle of Amarone for Christmas. I decided that it would be fun to pick up a bottle of Amarone myself, then we could compare the two. I made my way over to Plum Market after work to pick out a bottle and decided to make things a little more interesting than just trying two different bottles of Amarone della Valpolicella, so I bought a bottle of an Amarone style blend from Argentina. Same style of blending and wine making, just from a different place. It was during this taste test dinner that I decided to start a new series for the blog, called Dueling Wines (I get all the best ideas for names from my friends). Here you have it, ringing in a new year with a new blog series!
Amarone is a Valpolicella blend made from three grapes grown in the northern region of Italy, Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. Earning the name Amarone della Valpolicella is not an easy feat, there are pretty strict guidelines that are in place that dictate exactly how this style of wine can be made. You will often see wines that have some clever variation on the name Amarone because they are the same style of blend, but do not follow the exact specifications needed to earn the name, such as the Argentinian wine I will tell you all about later. The Corvina grape is the star of the show in an Amarone, and can comprise up to 75% of the blend, giving the wine its acidity and cherry flavors, while the Rondinella grape gives the wine a deeper color and body.
The first bottle we tasted was the Capitel de’ Roari Amarone della Valpolicella 2011, a very typical Amarone from Veneto, Italy. On the nose it was a little earthy with some spice and red fruit. The color was deep purple. To taste there were hints of an earthy graphite and cherry, along with some deeper plum flavors. It had a medium long finish with a hint of smokiness, which was very pleasant. The tannins and acidity were both medium high, and I think the wine would age pretty well for a few more years. I think it was balanced pretty well and definitely opened up after a while. I think it was a good representation of an Amarone, from what I have been able to find online, the bottle costs somewhere in the $35-$40 price range, which is fairly inexpensive for a decent Amarone. Taking everything into consideration I give the wine a 9.2 rating, pretty good!
Now, on to the interesting part, the Argentinian Amarone style blend. The Allegrini & Renacer Enamore Amarone style blend (2013) was immediately different from the Amarone. Much fruitier on the nose and more of a deep red color, rather than purple. The back of the label noted how this wine was made in the same style as the traditional Italian Amarone, using the old appassimento technique, where they use a variety of their best grapes and dry them to increase their concentration. For the Enamore they blended together 45% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Bonarda and 5% Cabernet Franc, making it interesting to compare considering the different grapes being used. Drinking it back to back with the Amarone it was much sweeter, the attack has a little bit of spice to it, while it fades into a much fruitier, dark fruit and cherry flavor. The finish was not as long as the Amarone, yet still present with a slight earthiness. I paid about $17 for this bottle at Plum Market, and I would say it is well worth the price. When I bought the bottle I was warned not to expect it to be like a typical Amarone, and that was very true. Overall, I give it a 9.0 rating. The bottle may be an Amarone style blend, but it definitely cannot be considered an Amarone, although a good bottle, and a great alternative to an Amarone for a cheaper price, when drinking them side by side I would have to say the traditional Amarone wins this one.