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The Cellar: The King: Amarone

Thursday, February 13, 2014

 

One of my favorite wines in the whole world is the Amarone della Valpolicella – the ‘King of Verona.’ Growing up, this rich and delicious wine was the ‘special occasion’ wine in my family, only served on birthdays and holidays. One of the things that prevented (and still prevents) the Amarone from being an everyday wine in my house is its price point, as these wines rarely cost less than $50 per bottle. Made from partially dehydrated grapes, this age-worthy, full-bodied wine often displays rich dark dried fruits, smoked meats and herbs wrapped in firm, sometimes bitter, tannins and vibrant acidity - especially in its youth.

Amarone has always been a popular wine in Europe. However, in the past 10-20 years Amarone has experienced an increase in popularity and demand worldwide as new wine lovers (especially in the U.S. and China) have discovered these great wines and have started filling their cellars with them. Amarone received yet another boost in 2009 when it was ‘promoted’ to a DOCG wine, the highest level within the Italian wine classification system

Be Aware

The increased demand has had two consequences that you as a potential Amarone consumer should be aware of. First of all, as could be expected, the prices of the most sought-after Amarones have skyrocketed. In some cases to price points mirroring those of top-notch Burgundies and classified Bordeaux. On the other end of the spectrum a new ($30-$50) category of Amarone has been born. While some of these wines are absolutely delicious and thereby excellent values, many of them are not and the often large-scale producers behind these wines are ‘cutting corners’, i.e. using less than desirable vineyards sites, blending grapes from across the region, messing with the drying and fermentation process and meeting only the absolute minimum aging requirements for making Amarone (revised in 2009).

Keeping Things Traditional

Thankfully there are still a bunch of family owned wineries that make Amarone the traditional way. A few years ago a dozen of them came together and formed the Association of Amarone Families who made it their goal to raise awareness and maintain the reputation of the traditional Amarone. While each family makes their own unique wine they all adhere to the highest standards in doing so. Many of the producers use the traditional grapes Corvinone and Oseleta in addition to the widely planted Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. In terms of the aging of the wines, which often happens in both new and used oak, as well as in bottle prior to releasing them (yet another thing that adds cost to making Amarone) these producers simply refuse compromise. While the minimum requirement for aging is a combined 24 month, many members of the Amarone Families age their wines for up to 5 years!

If you’ve never tasted an Amarone I urge you to find an occasion to make the splash. Many of the Associations member’s Amarones are available locally including Zenato, Allegrini, Tomassi and Masi.

Cheers!

Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or learn about wine in person by signing up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy .

 

Related Slideshow: Valentine’s Day Events in Central Mass

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Valentine's Music Fest

Jillian's, Worcester

Grab your favorite cowboy (or girl) and take them to Jillian's on Feb. 14 for the Valentine's Day Country Music Festival. The event features acoustic country singer Lisa Marie and Bobby Hogan and Sugar Creek. The concert goes from 7:30pm to 1:30am.

Click here for more information.

Prev Next

Valentine's Day Workshop

Crompton Collective, Worcester

The Worcester Historical Museum and Crompton Collective will partner for a special valentine workshop on Saturday, Feb. 8 to teach participants the history behind Valentine's Day cards.  Individuals can learn the real story and make their own cards in the style of Esther Howland the artist and businesswoman responsible for popularizing Valentine's Day greeting cards in America.

Click here for more details.

Prev Next

Parent's Night Out

The Children's Workshop, all MA locations

Would you like a night out for Valentine’s Day? Bring the kids to The Children’s Workshop! They will provide supervision, fun, entertainment and snacks for the kids while parents enjoy a night off. This service is FREE and open to the community! You do not need to enroll to take advantage of this great event. Space is limited. Please RSVP by February 7th.

The Children’s Workshop has 7 locations throughout Massachusetts.

For more information, click here.

Prev Next

Valentine's Day Symphony

University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester

The Seven Hills Symphony's Winter (Valentine's Day) Concert, which will take place Feb. 14 from 7:30pm to 9pm, features an all-Romantic program. The concert will showcase the winner and runner-up of SHS's concerto competition. Winner Spencer Kim will be the soloist for the first movement of Dvorak's Cello Concerto and runner-up Miranda Waltz-Peters will be the soloist for the first movement of Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1.

This is a free event, but donations are encouraged.

Click here for more information.

Prev Next

A Lesson in Chocolate

Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston

Make the most of your Valentine's chocolate and learn which chemicals elicit biochemical reactions in the human brain. During the presentation, you will also learn how to taste chocolate for quality and the best way to enjoy it. The event features presenter Mike Cross, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Northern Essex Community College.

Click here to register.

Prev Next

Ice Skating

Buffone Arena, Worcester

Are you looking for a romantic and fun activity this Valentine's Day? Look no further than ice skating at Buffone Arena. In honor of V-Day, Buffone will host a live, ice-slide DJ event so you can skate and rock the night away.

Admission is $5 and an additional $5 for rental skates.

For more information, click here.

Prev Next

Valentine's Day Ball

Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley

Enjoy a romantic night of dining & dancing at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, just 20 minutes from Worcester. Enjoy dinner and the upbeat music of Bellevue Cadillac, known as "The Most Danceable Band on the Planet." Doors open at 6pm for dinner & seating. Showtime is 8pm.

Tickets for the performance $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show.

Click here to buy tickets.

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Valentine's Day Dinner

Publick House, Sturbridge

The historic Publick House in Sturbridge will be offering a special Valentine's Day Dinner Menu on Feb. 14. Entrees include roasted prime rib, pan-seared salmon, roasted duck, and lobster pie. Click here to view the menu in its entirety.

Click here to make reservations.

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Valentine's Day Massacre

Lucky Dog Music Hall, Worcester

Why not do some head banging this Valentine's Day? Rock out with your mate from 8pm to 2am on Feb. 14 at the Valentine's Day Massacre at the Lucky Dog Music Hall. The event features six metal bands: Deception Of A Ghost, A Faylene Sky, It Lies Within, Kerrigan, Shred Of Salvation, and Promise Of Fire.

Click here for the details.

Prev Next

Historic Valentines

Old Sturbridge Village

On Feb. 8th and 9th, children can make their own valentines and visitors of all ages can "meet" the local woman responsible for the popularity of sending valentines in the United States Esther Howland.

Admission is $24 for adults and free for children under 17.

Click here for more information.

Prev Next

Dinner for Two

7 Nana Japanese Steakhouse, Worcester

Did you know that many components in Japanese cuisine have long been known to be natural aphrodisiacs? Ingredients such as rice, wasabi, ginger, unagi, sake, even shitake mushrooms can fuel romance. So if you’re looking to start your evening with some natural and edible sparks, join 7 Nana on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, and either choose from their regular dinner menu, or make your reservation for one of their special prix fixe menu seatings and enjoy a special Valentine’s Day menu.

To make reservations, click here.

Prev Next

Chocolate Making

Old Sturbridge Village

Learn about the history of chocolate - from bean to beverage - on Feb. 8th and 9th at Old Sturbridge Village. OSV historians will demonstrate processing chocolate by hand using cacao beans in the original manner of ancient Mexico, where chocolate originates.  They will use a "metate" to grind freshly roasted chocolate "nibs" to make a hot, spiced chocolate drink. 

Admission is $24 for adults and free for children under 17.

For more information, go here.

 
 

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