Amarone della Valpolicella, or Amarone for short, is created in the Venitian region of Italy. Originally there was only one legal region, or DOC, for the Valpolicella name. These wines are made with the Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. Two sub-groups emerged, though - recioto, which is a sweet dessert wine, and amarone, which is a dry red wine with great body.
Both recioto and amarone are made with grapes that have been dried on racks, bringing out their flavors. In 1991 these two were granted their own DOCs. The land area encompassed by these three DOCs is the same, but the types of wine are quite different.
Amarone is the fourth biggest seller in Italy, behind Chianti, Asti, and Soave. This fine wine has flavors of licorice, tobacco and fig, and goes well with game and ripe cheese. Hannibal of Silence of the Lambs fame, of course, had his with fava beans. In the movie version, they had him drinking the more pedestrian chianti wine type. While some styles of amarone can be very bitter (that's where the name comes from), new styles are more fruity.
The Official history of Amarone della Valpolicella isn't a long one. The first bottle of Amarone was produced in the year 1938 but it took until 1953 before the wine was actively being traded commercially. The history of the Recioto ,where Amarone came from, however is quite a bit longer.
The Recioto was first written about in the time of the Romans. The grape variety “Retica” was said to be used to produce a full bodied red wine in the 2nd century BC by Lucius Iunius Moderatus Columella.
How Recioto became Amerone is a bit of a mystery. Rumour, however, has it that Amarone was discovered accidentally because of a forgotten barrel of Recioto which continued to ferment the sugars into alcohol and changed the wine which become stronger and dryer than the Recioto is.
The Valpolicella region has a mild to cool climate and is influenced by its close proximately to Lake Garda to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the southeast. The coolest regions are found in the Monti Lessini foothills to the north with cool winds blowing southward from the Alps. Towards the south and east, the climate gets warmer in the fertile plains of the Adige river. The mean temperature in the growing season is usually around 74.3°F (23.5°C) with average rainfall around 860mm (34inches).
The soils in the region range from dolomite residual gravel with alluvial deposits in the fertile central plains to morainic gravel near Lake Garda. To the east there are several areas featuring rich volcanic soils. The most favorably situated vineyards are to be found in the Monti Lessini foothills where the grapes ripen at altitudes between 490–1500 feet (150–450 meters).
Amarone is a dry, full-bodied wine with a great concentration of fruit. Aromas and flavors of red fruits like cherries are accented by plum, spice, licorice, tobacco, cocoa and vanilla. The drying process intensifies the flavors of the grapes giving this wine a rich intense flavour.
Being rich and full flavoured Amarone is a wine best enjoyed with strong flavoured food, like game and ripe cheese