Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva
The same as regular Amarone with a twist: the wine must be aged for at least 4 years in a barrel, and in practice for longer, even considerably longer. In general, wines which have been aged longer come out rounder, deeper, less sharply acidic and more densely fruity. Not that it’s as simple as that, however – there are other factors influencing the wine than the sheer length of the ageing process.
What the barrels are made from, for instance, will greatly affect the subsequent flavours, with the three different types of oak – French, the rare American and the traditional Slavonian – offering different shades and subtleties (butter in the case of French, vanilla with American and less intervention with the Slavonian – all offer trademark spiciness).
The size of the barrels matters as well, with the smaller barriques (generally holding 225-228 litres) giving more concentrated ‘oaky’ flavours, while the bigger, traditional botti (at least 1000 litres, sometimes even as much as 10,000) influence the wine less, making them favoured by many purists who consider that they allow more natural fruit flavours to shine through. Finally, while the raw wood will work, the effect of the oak can be enhanced by toasting the barrels before use – the greater the toasting, the stronger and spicier the oak will be.
Alcohol: mimimum 14% (usually 15%+)
Colour: generally reddish-brown, tending towards translucence.
Aroma: cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, vanilla, dark-fruit jam.
Palate: soft, medium acidity, full viscosity; strong spices and fruits, with more tobacco and cocao powder with age.
Food Pairing: aged gorgonzola or hard, strong cheese – but really, this is sippin’ wine, wine for drinking and thinking – a mindfulness wine.