This year in the folks in Valpolicella presented the 2008 vintage of Amarone, which was a fairly difficult vintage, one that wasn't particularly hot, and therefore yielded wines that are not tremendously powerful (for Amarone), with in many cases relatively lower residual sugar contents and greater freshness that we have seen in some recent vintages. They are also wines that will probably not be as long-lived as one might expect of, say, the 2006 vintage, but that will also be readier sooner and more enjoyable in the short term. In other words, wines to enjoy while we give wines from the better vintages time.
You will find my complete notes
, and a more detailed discussion of the tasting on The Italian Wine Review, my wine site. This is a quick list of the wines that most impressed me.
Prerelease sample, tasted at the winery
Deep pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich cherry fruit supported by dusky sandalwood and some vegetal notes mingled with candied cherries and some brandied berry fruit. Quite promising and impressive for a wine that has yet to enter the bottle. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful cherry prune fruit supported by slight sandalwood and dusky graphite shaving bitterness, and deft spice, with tannins that are very smooth and flow into a long clean berry fruit finish with graphite underpinning and lasting warmth. Impressive, and will be beautiful when it has some bottle age under its belt. It will be well worth seeking out.
Score: 92-4 ?
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections. the bouquet is bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by graphite shaving and greenish menthol, also considerable spice and a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's fairly rich, with bright berry fruit supported by some sweetness, tannins that are fairly bitter with a slight greenish burr, and minerality more than acidity, flowing into a bitter mineral finis with graphite shavings and berry fruit underpinning. Fairly direct, should age nicely. Very young.
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections cherry rim. The bouquet is closed, swishing brings up minerality and spice with some graphite shavings some greenish accents. On the palate it's ample and fairly rich, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by slight mentholated acidity and by tannins that are ample and smooth, flow into a mentholated berry fruit finish with hints of pepper jam. Fairly direct, and quite approachable, will age nicely and may do interesting things with time.
Deep black cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is deft, with pleasant mentholated spice mingled with red berry fruit, some berry fruit acidity, and underbrush, while there is also some sea salt. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by dusky acidity that has some tobaccoey vegetal accents mingled with sandalwood, and supported by fresh bright slightly greenish tannins. It's very, very young, but promises well, and should develop nicely with time; it needs a couple of years to work things out and make itself presentable.
Score: 85-7 (?)
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and quite young, with jammy cherry fruit supported by some India ink bitterness and fairly rich sandalwood spice as well. Pleasant in a very young key. On the palate it's bright, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and some dusky bitterness, while the tannins are fresh and rather splintery but bode well for the future. It needs another 3-5 years, but will I think prove interesting.
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with mentholated cherry fruit supported by nutmeg spice and some plum accents with underlying sandalwood. On the palate it's up front, with fairly bright plum cherry fruit supported by minerality and graphite shaving bitterness, while the tannins are warm and display a youthful splintery burr. Pleasant in a young direct key, and while it doesn't have the depth that many Amaroni have, it does have a cheeky allure.
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up wet tree bark, spice, and some greenish accents with underlying ripe red berry fruit and some savory accents. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a warm savory burr and flow into a fairly long cherry finish. It's fairly direct, in an up front sort of way, and promises nicely, though it has a ways to go. The nose is behind with respect to the palate at present, and it needs at least a couple of years to catch up.
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections. the bouquet is fairly intense, with candied cherries that bring gummy bears to mind supported by mentholated accents and some spice, and as it opens some cedar as well; with slight cocoa too. On the palate it's ample and fairly tart, with bright sour berry fruit that has some balsamic accents supported by balsam laced acidity and tannins that have a warm spicy burr and flow into a lasting balsamic finish. Pleasant in a fairly traditional key, and if you like the style you will enjoy it, though it needs a couple of years at least to get its bearings.
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with warm berry fruit laced with balsamic accents and some spice, also bright mentholated accents and hints of gummy bear as it opens. On the palate it's direct, with fairly bright berry fruit supported by smooth sweet berry fruit laced acidity, and by tannins that are fairly splintery, and flow into a dusky, splintery finish. Needs another couple of years at least to come together, and will always be fairly oaky, I think, though the brightness of the fruit is pleasant, and will allow the wine to balance the oak -- there is enough. It's just in an unfortunate stage now.
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is dusky, with fairly intense balsamic accents mingled with equally powerful greenish notes and hints of chalk dust; there's not much fruit. On the palate it's approachable, with fairly rich sour plum cherry fruit supported by moderate mineral acidity and by tannins that have a fairly strong greenish sandalwood overlay, and flow into a fairly long sandalwood laced finish. It's pleasant but still disjointed, and needs another couple of years to come together, at which point it will be spicy and rather exotic.
Deep black cherry ruby with cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and smoky, with some cedar and greenish vegetal accents supported by leaf tobacco and some savory spice. Not much fruit though there is some anger. On the palate it's ample and softer than I expected, with fairly rich, fairly bright fairly sweet cherry plum fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are ample and smooth, with slight splintery accents that flow into a warm sweet berry fruit prune finish with dusky leaf tobacco underpinning. It's fairly direct, with a peasant fullness, and the palate is ahead of the nose. If it catches up, the wine will be pleasant in a fairly direct key.
Impenetrable black cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, and fairly sweet, with peppery berry fruit supported by some mentholated accents and spice, and also by some sandalwood. Fresh, and fairly charged. On the palate it's bright, with rich cherry fruit supported by some sweetish accents, sour berry fruit acidity, and dusky tannins that flow into a warm slightly balsamic finish. Pleasant in a ripe but not overripe fairly charged key, and will also age nicely for a number of years, though at present it needs time.