2009 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera

I’ve got friends who are Amarone addicts and for a long time, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.

Amarone comes from the Valpolicella district in Northeastern Italy’s Veneto region, made from a blend of grapes (primarily Corvina) that have been dried. The grapes are picked in bunches and kept in drying rooms (with warm temps and low humidity) to “raisinate” for weeks to months. Traditionally, wines were dried on straw mats. This super-concentrates the sugars and flavors of the grapes, yielding big red wines with high alcohol and intense flavor.

When I first tried Amarone, I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly splurge for the good stuff. There is a lot of hot, bitter, cheap Amarone out in the world, but the good stuff is just lovely.

Masi Winery is one of Amarone’s premier producers and their wine does not disappoint. It is amazingly both powerful and restrained. Black and red fruits are ample, including plums and cherries, and somehow the nose and taste is both dried and raisiny, yet fresh. Medium tannins and bright acidity give the wine great structure. I probably drank it too early, this wine easily will only get better with more bottle time, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Definitely sweetness in the nose along with herbs and sweet pipe tobacco. Really well integrated, especially for being 15% alcohol, with a nice long finish. Just delicious and I’ll be definitely drinking again.