Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina (40.0% – 70.0%), Rondinella (20.0% – 40.0%) and Molinara (5.0% – 25.0%) varieties. The wine was awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in December 1990.
Grapes are harvested ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, to let the air flow. Grapes are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats.
If fermentation is stopped early, the resulting wine will contain residual sugar (more than 4 grams of sugar per litre) and produce a sweeter wine known Recioto della Valpolicella. Unlike traditional Amarone, Recioto della Valpolicella can also be used to produce a sparkling wine. Ripasso is an Italian wine produced when the partially aged Valpolicella is contacted with the lees of the Amarone, including the unpressed grape skins. The lees still contain a lot of sugar and the Valpolicella undergoes a second fermentation. This will typically take place in the spring following the harvest. The resulting wine is more tannic, with a deeper color, more alcohol and more extract. The word Ripasso designates both the winemaking technique and the wine, and is usually found on a wine label.
The final result is a very ripe, raisiny, full-bodied wine with very little acid. Alcohol content easily surpasses 15% (the legal minimum is 14%) and the resulting wine is rarely released until five years after the vintage, even though this is not a legal requirement.
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Amarone Wine Information, www.wineintro.com