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"Amarone-esque" wines?

Over the past few years, I've grown increasingly enamored of Amarone as one of the most distinctive and delicious wines available on the market. But obviously, even the lower-end Amarones don't come cheap.

Can you think of any wines that you'd consider "Amarone-esque", but perhaps at a lower price point? Are there any wineries outside of Veneto/outside of Italy that employ the Amarone-style winemaking process of drying out the grapes before pressing?

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  1. Drying grapes = less juice left and higher risk of rot = higher price for final product.

    Lots of traditional wine appelations are based on the idea of drying the grapes and concentrating the flavors, but there's no escaping the above math.

    I'm sure knowledgeable Members of the Board will provide fairly complete listings. Stay tuned.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RicRios

      > Drying grapes = less juice left and higher risk of rot = higher price for final product.

      Totally understood. Of course you're conceptually right, and I'm certainly not expecting to find a four-dollar bottle that magically has the structure and subtlety of a full-blown Amarone.

      That said, I feel like there must be upstarts elsewhere in the world that are partially mimicking the Amarone process, but have at least a nominally lower price because they're (a) not bound by Italy's stringent DOC guidelines and/or (b) a relatively new upstart trying to get their name out there.

      Any info, including on other similarly-priced and similarly-structured wines, would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

      1. re: finlero

        "there must be upstarts elsewhere in the world that are partially mimicking the Amarone process, but have at least a nominally lower price " .

        Possible, and interesting.

        I tried wine-searcher.com with keywords "Argentina Amarone" and "Australia Amarone". The first one returned zero hits. The second, only one:

        Mitolo Serpico ( http://www.mitolowines.com.au/wines_s... )
        As per their web site: "The grapes were left to dry on the 10kg drying racks for 7 weeks and 3 days in the traditional Amarone manner resulting in 30% bunch weight loss. "
        Unfortunately, math rules above do apply: minimum US retail price around $60

        1. re: RicRios

          A very old post but came upon on a different search. Joseph vineyard in Australia had a Cab Sauv MODA that is made in Amarone method. Had it there some time ago. Was not priced too badly and was wonderful. Do not know if imported and current pricing.

    2. If you are looking for something that's affordable with a nicely concentrated flavor you might want to give Taurino's Salice Salentino a shot. It's in the $10-15 range, at least the last time I bought some. It seems I'm overdo for another case...;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: TongoRad

        Interesting, I like that wine a lot. Taurino's Patriglione is substantially better still, although much harder to find.

      2. You might try Allegrini Pallazzo Della Torre - about of 1/3 of the grapes are subjected to an appassimento - it's $12-15

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sam B

          It runs a little closer to $20 in the Boston area where I live, but I quite like it. I had no idea about the appassimento on some of its grapes, but in hindsight (hind-taste?), it makes perfect sense.

          Allegrini's La Grola is a little less in-your-face, but a really nice mid-$20s bottle.

        2. just an fyi, since it doesn't fit your price requirement -- illuminati does a passito style wine on montepulciano grapes called nico.

          1. This is akin to seeking a Sauternes-like wine, but at a killer price-point. Given what goes into Amarone, you are not likely to be very lucky. Me, I'd look for Amarones, within my price range, rather than a substitute.

            My personal comments,

            Hunt

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              >>>Me, I'd look for Amarones, within my price range, rather than a substitute. <<<

              You and me, both!

            2. I'd check out the better Ripassos.

              ~ $20, the Zenato is a great value.

              ~$35, the Bussola TB is a dead ringer for an Amarone. Phenominal.

              My *HUNCH* based only upon my appreciation for the winery, is that the 2005 Begali Ripasso available for $15 at finewine.com (and no where else online) is probably a screaming deal.

              For Amarone-esque, earlier today I had a 2004 Dettori Rosso from Sardegna. Very good. Maybe a bit of VA, but not too much. Finish was similar to an Amarone (nose more similar to a Priorat). Really old-world styled but high octane, just like an Amarone, too. Sadly, while the 2004 is $73ish, apparently the 2005 is going to be $176!!!

              While they don't taste similar to Amarones, Spanish Toro's can have a similar sensibility. I'd look to Numanthia which, at $50, is probably slightly less expensive than most of the popular Amarones on the market.

              2 Replies
              1. re: whiner

                Note: The Bussola TB mentioned above is the Valpolicella which may or may not actually be a ripasso but is certainly not a typical Valpo either.

                1. re: whiner

                  I like Whiner's Ripasso della Valpolicella suggestion. Tommasi and Bertani make excellent Ripassi, but the price point will not be much lower than Amarone. Bill's suggestion of splurging on more affordable Amaroni makes sense. Here's an article on the topic that you might find useful:
                  http://thepour.blogs.nytimes.com/2007...

                2. Another wine to look for are the sfursat/sforsato/sforzato wines of Valtellina in Lombardia that are made using a similar process but with nebbiolo. Not that these will help the budget aspect of your search.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Nathan P

                    Wines based on raisiny grapes are certainly numerous.
                    I was hoping some of our in-board experts would post a comprehensive list but hélas, I'll have to live for now with the passitos, amarones, sfursats, and the botrytized families as artificial horizon...

                  2. Stumbled across a response to my own question this evening:

                    Opened a bottle of 2005 Tenuta di Trinoro "Le Cupole" Super Tuscan tonight. Strikingly concentrated, dark, piney, and caramelly. Perhaps a little too syrupy and sweet after 2+ hours, but in the $30 - $40 range, definitely a nice find.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: finlero

                      A nice find may be, but nothing "Amarone-esque", as per their own statement:

                      http://www.trinoro.it/vini/details.ph...

                    2. I recall purchasing a bottle of California Zin that was 16.5% abv. I asked the manager about it and he (maybe jokingly) told me that the grapes used had to be super ripe or damn near raisins to produce a wine of that high of a %abv.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chinon00

                        Very ripe? Yes.

                        But 16.5% is not uncommon for CA Zin. Turleys can get up there. Carlisle and Martinelli routine do. Maybe others as well. In fact, Martinellis often clear 17% (labled, meaning they are probably actually clearing 18%).

                      2. You should search for ripasso style wines. That is the Valpolicella wine from the Veneto passed over the lees of the Amarone must to give the wine a touch of that rich Amarone taste. There are many producers of Ripassa, Cesare comes to mind. Also Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon is 10% dried grape so that too would have an Amarone quality without the price