Tasting T2.9 Amarone and the Veneto

We move to the beautiful landscape that is Veneto in northern Italy. This tasting focuses on arguably the most prestigious red wine from the area. Amarone della Valpolicella. Vinified from grapes using the appassimento technique, these wines are rich, full bodied and intensely flavoured. They can age for many years. Mainly vinified using the Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara grape varieties. 

However, let’s start at the beginning. The Veneto region is home to well-known cities such as Venice and Verona. It has many macroclimates from the Alps, to Lake Garda to the Adriatic Sea. As a wine region, Veneto is shrouded in history. The region produces extreme volumes of the beloved Pinot Grigio grape… (beloved by some not necessarily me!). Also producing Prosecco, however when delving further we see it also produces incredible Valpolicella and Amarone wines, along with Soave and Bardolino.

Looking at Valpolicella, the Alps are on its norther border and the region covers 95 square miles across the western front of Veneto. Wines with the standard DOC of Valpolicella are made here along with of course the rich and concentrated wines of Amarone della Valpolicella with DOCG being a more quality driven standard.

Corvina is the main grape variety used, the trademark for higher quality wines is the sour cherry note. There are four key ‘styles’ that are made in Valpolicella which range from least to most intense: Valpolicella, Valpolicella Rippaso, Amarone della Valpolicella and Recioto della Valpolicella. All are generally made with the four same grape varieties so it is merely winemaking technique that changes their look and feel.

Valpolicella produces fresh and vibrant wines with fruity notes. Lighter in style generally, some wineries have started to use different techniques to bring about a fuller and more complex wine.

Valpolicella Ripasso DOC is more intense due to the method of producing these wines. Ripasso meaning ‘re-pass’ was awarded DOC status in 2010. Wine is first fermented from a basic Valpolicella DOC vineyard, then a second fermentation is started using the grape skins left over from Amarone or Recioto. This creates a wine that is fuller and has more depth of flavour.

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG became huge in the 1990’s. When done correctly this wine brings intense concentration with structure, balance and elegance. Dark berries, cocoa and raisin are the main flavour profile. These grapes are then fermented to dryness creating a robust and high alcohol wine.

Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG is a dessert wine made from dried grapes. The fruit for these wines is dried for far longer than those used in Amarone close on 150-200 days. This further concentrates the sugar and the flavours that the grapes in part on the wine. Fermentation is stopped before all of the sugar converts to alcohol therefore creating a sweet wine.

The Appassimento Technique

This is where the grapes are laid out on bamboo racks to concentrate their aroma during the winter months. It is the process of natural partial dehydration of grapes. This is in order to produce greater concentration of colour, aroma and flavours in the wine. Since this also increases the concentration of sugar in the grapes, this technique produces very concentrated wines. This technique dates back to being in use since Roman times.

Now that you’re all up to speed! The wineries we are tasting today are some of the top in the region along with lesser known but very good smaller wineries.


In 1772 the Boscaini family first harvested grapes from the prestigious vineyards in the ‘Vajo dei Masi’, a valley in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico region. 200 years later the family is still producing fantastic wines.

Producing an entire range of wines from Soave to Valpolicella to Amarone della Valpolicella. This family has been making gorgeous wines for decades. 

Monte Santoccio

Located in Fumane, in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico area. Nicola and his wife Laura Ferrari produce 25-30,000 bottles each year from 4 Hectares sat at an altitude of 350 metres. Nicola Ferrari was 26 when he first started working at Giuseppe Quintarelli, this is a very prestigious Valpolicella winery.

He then set about buying his own vines as he quickly realised the importance of controlling the entire wine making process. He now makes a whole range of wines from Valpolicella Classico to Amarone to Recioto and a rose.

Dal Forno Romano

Arguably the best winery in Veneto. The Dal Forno family have owned vines in Illasi for many years. The fruit was always sold to the local co-operative winery however. In 1983, however, Romano Dal Forno, upset with the low prices he was getting for his grapes, decided to make his own wine.

With extremely little knowledge and experience he learnt everything as he went along. He built a brand new, state-of-the-art winery and replaced Molinara with two other grape varieties. Croatina and Orseleta which bring complex sugars and intensity of flavour, colour, tannin and acidity. They are now known worldwide as pure and elegant wines.


The Speri family has been making wine since 1874, this is proven as the original barrel still resides in their cellar. In 1885 Carlo Speri purchased plots of lands that had vines, mulberry trees and other plants. In 1911 the company Speri Carlo e figlio is registered for the marketing of wines in Pedemonte.

Three generations of the family have been making wine in this estate, they have been the first to use modern techniques and continue to pioneer in Valpolicella. Their entire production is certified organic and sustainability is at the forefront of their vision.  


Founded in 1902, this winery has become a key signature for quality across four generations of the family. Giacomo Tommasi was the original founder and the estate is now run by his nine great-grandchildren.

Tommasi produces wines from 242 hectares of vineyards, they now also own 6 other wineries across Italy. Each one is in I a different region on Italy and the focus is to create beautiful wines from different grape varieties and terroirs.

Monte Zovo

In 1925 Carlo Cottini founded this farm. As well as cultivating vines the family also grew cherries, plums, apricots and olives. He also raised cattle. It was the second and third generation that grew viticulture. In 1965 Raffaello, Carlo’s son, bought the Caprino Veronese estate where the cellar still stands today. The estate covers roughly 50 hectares of vines across Valpolicella.

We have six wines today.

1st up is..

Masi Costaserra Amarone Classico 2016

Overlooking Lake Garda and named after the slope of the vineyard which faces the sunset (Costasera). The vines receive a milder climate and a longer day and benefit from the last of the day’s warmth from the reflection of the sun off the lake. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara in equal parts form this wine.

Note: Starting with beautiful aromas of cherries, coffee leather and plums. Strong tannin comes through with mouth watering acidity. This rounds out a gorgeous dark fruit profile. Coffee and leather echoing on the palate with firm tannins griping to your cheeks. This is still a baby and has a couple of decades in it. Cellar and it will be incredible.

Monte Santoccio Amarone Classico 2016

40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Pressing of the grapes, maceration and fermentation for nearly 30 days. Aged in barrels for 30 months.

Note: Intense cherry aromas with dried fruits and plums. An absolute powerhouse on the nose. On the palate those powerful aromas do not disappoint. Gorgeous fine tannins emerge with intense dried fruit notes once again taking control. Elegance is key here, whilst the wine is powerful it does not blow you away, rather sinks into its high acidity and is unctuous. Again many years ahead of this wine and extremely impressive so far.

Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore 2015

Whilst not an Amarone, the Valpolicella Superiore from Dal Forno is made from 100% apassimento grapes that are dried for between 20 and 25 days. 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Oseleta, 5% Croatina.

Note: Extremely herbaceous with rosemary and thyme, slight dampness with hints of forest floor aromas. Leather and dried fruit aromas coming through. Extremely warm, checking in at 15% alcohol, however not overpowering and no immediate sense of alcohol. Lovely and supple but again a lot of baby fat to shed for this young one. Gorgeous acidity and ripe tannins prove it has a couple of decades in front of it. Fruit is still very sweet and will age over time in bottle. Really amazing.

Speri Amarone 2013

Corvina and Corvinone make up 70% of this wine, with 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Grapes are dryed for 100 days, they are destemmed, pressed and fermented in stainless steel with maceration taking place as well. The wine is then put in 500 litre French oak tonneaux for 24 months. Aged in bottle for a year before available on the market.

Note: Sweet intense fruits, herbaceous again with rosemary, sage and thyme. Dried prunes and plums are intense on the nose with cherries and blue fruits. A highly perfumed and luxurious wine. Tannins are broad and well-integrated. A luscious, well-rounded wine with strong acidity still showing form. This will continue to have another decade in it. Truly a great wine and I highly recommend. 

Tommassi Amarone Ca Florian 2012

75% Corvina, 20% Corvinone and 5% Rondinella. The grapes again are left to dry for 100 days. Pressing is carried out and the fermentation takes place slowly for 30 days in oak vats. The wine is aged for 1 year in barriques, then 3 following years in Slavonian oak barrels. Aged in bottle for at least a year before release to the market.

Note: Dried dark fruits, plums and prunes showing elegantly on the nose. Leather with notes of herbs and slight perfumed aromas. Luscious body, structure is bang on the money with elegance running through the body of this wine. Supple and smooth, this wine is drinking beautifully but still has many years ahead for development. A beautiful longing finish gives rise to this great wine. Cellar for another 8-10 years and start to enjoy. 

Monte Zovo Amarone 2011

70% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella. Fermentation takes places in stainless steel tanks, the wine is then aged in barriques for 24 months. The wines are then blended and remain in barriques for another 6 months. The wine is then aged in bottle for 12 months before release.

Note: Smoke, tobacco, really intense stewed fruit aromas. The smell of the sugars from the grapes is emanating on the nose. Leather and lovely Italian herbaceous aromas surround the nose. The wine does not disappoint on first taste. The aromas transfer almost automatically onto the palate and the body and tannin bring a fantastic depth to the stewed fruits. The depth of flavour has honestly been unmatched so far. Strong acidity aids the sweet fruit notes and seamlessly gives rise to the fact that this will continue to age gracefully. Even if it is drinking superbly now! An absolute star and would 100% recommend. I would cellar for another 5-7 years then enjoy.


This was an excellent tasting, I have personally always loved Amarone wines so another great treat for me!

All wines were fantastic and very different, something to be said about Amarone wines is that each winemaker can very much leave their own mark. Something that other regions cannot always seem to do. I would highly recommend all of these wines and the beauty is they will age, generally, for decades and continue to bring great pleasure.

The scores:

Masi Costaserra 2016 – 91 Points

Monte Santoccio 2016 – 93 Points

Dal Forno Romano 2015 – 95 Points

Speri 2013 – 96 Points

Tommasi 2012 – 97 Points

Monte Zovo 2011 – 98 Points

Now clearly we are getting older wines as we move through the tasting. The clear reason here is to showcase how Amarone ages over time. Therefore the younger guns are still showcasing body fat and a desire to improve, whereas the 2012 & 2011 are already beginning their prime. All of these wines at a certain time in their life will become extraordinary in their own way.

Apologies for the delay in this article… it’s been a little busy over the Easter period!

Thank you for reading, as always, and next week we will have an Up from The Cellar article showcasing wines from 1995! Stay tuned 😉


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