Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella 2003

Amarone's a big part of me being in the wine trade. In a roundabout way, it's how I got my first job selling fine wine. I'm sure some of my other spectacular personality traits helped, but my love of Amarone was the only one that's ever been mentioned. My first vintage of Allegrini's Amarone was the 1988, tasted in summer 2001. I didn't take notes, sadly, but I do remember loving it. I remember the first time I tried Quintarelli's incredible (and incredibly expensive) wines and the aftermath of that tasting. I felt guilty. I decided, foolishly, that my love of Amarone held me back as a taster. I needed to seek elegance, refinement and complexity - the rustic glories and awesome power held in the Veneto's finest red could not improve my palate or knowledge. 

It was not my first, nor will it be last, bad decision. It was, however, easily rectified. 

Amarone done well is a raucous wine, summarily dispatching so many new world pretenders boasting about their super-ripe dried grapes. It balances bitter and sweet, rustic and refined, power and the antonym of power. When it's done well. Poor Amarone is a travesty - stewed, unstructured, occasionally oxidised but mostly unfinished. You get this big hit and then... woosh, gone. The big hit isn't even fruit, or flavour, but booze. Avoid poor Amarone as you would any mucky factory produced wine.

The colour's still dense, though fading slightly at the edges it's still dark and brooding at the core. 

Bramble and pepper on the nose, followed by rich dark chocolate and cocoa powder with hints of glacé cherries.

Massive palate, matched by a tight structure. Bramble and cherries, ripe but with a pleasant savoury tang, then comes the chocolate - not only in flavour but in texture too, almost to the grain. Bittersweet, slightly meaty with beautiful but never overbearing weight. The dustiness of the tannins reminds me of cocoa powder and the term chocolate leather comes to mind in terms of mouthfeel. This is great stuff and drinking a treat at the moment. Perhaps not as classy as the '04, but a real blinder nonetheless.

Tasted at Luvians Bottleshop 09/04/08