WorldWine News

2010-11-25

Italy: Amarone fights for its identity

Stop mass production and the resulting loss of quality and identity of the Amarone! This is the motto which 12 family wineries of the Valpolicella area near Verona in Italy, the "Famiglie dell'Amarone d'Arte", have started fighting for, more than a year ago. The 12 winemakers (Allegrini, Begali, Brigaldara, Masi Agricola, Musella, Nicolis, Speri, Tedeschi, Tenuta Sant'Antonio, Tommasi, Venturini and Zenato) have decided to protect and promote the real, the true Amarone, which comes from the best vineyards in the historic production zone and is produced according to traditional rules.

Amarone is produced from the same grapes as the red Valpolicella (Corvina veronese, Rondinella, Molinara and others), but the grapes are, for some three months after the harvest, dried on straw, wooden frames or in special climatic chambers. As a result, the berries contain an enormous amount of sugar which, with the help of special indigenous yeasts, are fermented to alcohol levels of 15 or 15,5 degrees and over.


Verona, the capital of the Valpolicella region where Amarone is produced (photo: E. Supp)

In recent times, the small area in which Amarone used to be produced, was more and more enlarged, and instead of the traditional, long lasting drying process, the grapes were dehydrated with the help of modern "air-conditioning"-machines in only a few hours or days. Production of Amarone rose, between 2008 and 2009 alone, from 6,75 to 9 million bottles, while total earnings went down by 16 % in the same period - an unprecedented fall in value.

As a matter of fact much of the Amarone has lost, during the last decade or so, its organoleptical qualities and properties and has become a faceless "internationally styled" red wine. Although the motto of the "12 families" seems just and valid, it sounds strange that many of the most prestigious Amarone producers like Dalforno or Quintarelli are not participating in the association. This raises suspicion that, in the end, the "Famiglie dell'Amarone d'Arte" could just be another piece of blunt, although well-intentioned, marketing.


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