Reconsidering Amarone Della Valpolicella
“It’s a New Year, and so many in the wine media are prognosticating on what wine trends will define 2018. What wine region will now be cool? Whose star will fade? What will you be drinking four years from now, long after I discovered it in 2018?
“It can be a rather ridiculous exercise in navel gazing, especially in the hands of writers and critics who taste thousands of wines in a year. The divide between how they experience wine and what you’re looking for is immutably wide.
“However, I will say that wine is not immune to fads, so in a sense, musing on trends has its place. Wine is a dynamic beast where a region’s fortunes can rise and fall on the whims of the weather — or in the case of Amarone della Valpolicella, on the whims of fashion. Right now, low-alcohol wines are decidedly “in.” As are single-grape wines that show varietal character. And good-value wines? They are always in style.
“Amarone will never be any of these things (read our First Taste Guide to Amarone della Valpolicella to find out why), and so recently, I’ve heard a bit of shade thrown at this Italian juggernaut. It’s “too muscular,” “too tinny” (whatever that means), “too inflexible with food pairings.”
“I’ve had my share of brash and overconfident Amarone before — the phrase “bitter bombs” comes to mind — so I get some of this criticism. It is a wine that can certainly exhaust the palate and the contents of your wallet, faster than most Italian wines.
“But perhaps if more Amarone crossed our palates like Buglioni’s “Il Lussurioso,” we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
“Here’s a wine that performs more like a rings gymnast than a body builder. Uncorked on Christmas night to complement a sweet-and-savory Moroccan chicken-and-nut pie, Il Lussurioso was mightily impressive. The raisiny notes matched the cuisine perfectly, the bitter cut of coffee bean on the nose was like a drug, and its depth had a few of us pouring a second glass, seeking more answers. …”
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