Wine: Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Grapes: Corvina veronese (70 percent), rondinella (25 percent), corvinone (5 percent)
Region: Valpolicella, Veneto, Northern Italy
In the glass: Speri Amarone is a deeply opaque garnet-red color with a dense, inky core going out into a tinged brick-red to orangey rim definition with sticky high-painted viscosity.
On the nose: It takes a little while to discern the olfactory notes, but when ready the wine releases wonderfully and complex layers of mature fruit with diced black plums, golden raisins, almond liqueur, saddle leather, game meat, dried cherries, dark chocolate, coffee grounds, iodine, earth-driven minerals and black currant jam.
On the palate: The wine is quite an experience because it hits like a rich semibittersweet dried fruit bomb with massive concentration, aged black plums, spiced-up cassis fruit, red cherry compote, ripe and very rustic huckleberries, then fresh walnuts, dried herbs and earthy minerals. The midpalate of this huge, full-bodied wine is very dense with flavors, showing massive tannins, yet ripeness and balance, on the basis of acidity that works with the phenols and fruit. The finish is a minute-long orgy of ripe dried plums, prunes and black cherries, with a touch of bitterness and hints of sweet currants.
Odds and ends: What makes amarone unusual is that after harvest, the grapes are dried until they are converted to ultrasweet raisins. Sometimes the grapes are even attacked by botrytis, the noble rot from which the world’s great sweet wines are made. Once made into wine, these hyper-sweet grapes yield a drink that has a distinctly bittersweet characteristic. Amarone usually costs more than $80 a bottle, but deals are available in hard times. At this special time of the year, you should try something like this. Speri Amarone goes well with all the rich holiday foods, including sweets. It should drink well through 2020.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.