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Mar 2, 2011 07:41 AM

Brunello / Amarone - $20 everyday alternative?

We love both Brunello and Amarone wines - their full body, depth of flavor, old world earthiness, etc. and would like to enjoy something similar, on the cheap!

Less expensive Chianti's, Rosso di Montalcino's, Valpolicella Ripasso's are all nice but not the same. Maybe there's a "best of" one of these types, or something else from Italy, Spain or Chile that we should consider.

So, without spending $50 to $100(+) for a Brunello or Amarone, what's a $20 everyday alternative, currently available in NYC or NJ wine shops, etc.?? Thanks!

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  1. Currently available in NY/NJ is beyond my knowledge unfortunately, The only memorable Rosso di Montalcino I've had recently is the 2007 Il Poggione for about $20.

    But here's a somewhat unusual suggestion: 2009 Coquelet Chiroubles Vielles Vignes ($23). Yes, cru Beaujolais. I had a bottle last weekend. Very ripe and extracted for beaujolais (even for 2009), but also with a deep mineral and herbal foundation that I'll attribute to the old vines. It was also slightly, but notably bretty ... which I think may have suggested "Italian" to me!

    My wife and I have been drinking our way through as many 2009 cru-bojos as we can to decide which we want to cellar, and this one struck us as quite an outlier. If served to me blind, I might have guessed Italian sangiovese. My final conclusion: not as good as the other cru-bojos - and thus not worth cellaring - but I suggested to my wife that if I was told this was a rosso, I'd have considered it an excellent value and might have purchased more.

    Which told me a lot about my current tastes: I guess I really prefer cru-Bojo, particularly the 2009 vintage, and hold the wines to higher standards. My Italian buying has been way down this year, and likely to go lower. And a final recommendation: although it didn't strike me as "Italian" in the way the Coquelet did, the 2009 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie (basic bottling, not tardive) for about $16 will give you the full body and depth albeit on a more delicate frame than the Italian options, but with a much fuller expression of what many of us perceive as "terroir". This wine does need to aerate for as much as 6 hours (good advice for many young, acidic reds), and may be starting to shutdown given some reports. But a bottle I drank last week was as gorgeous as any (of the many) I've drunk so far.

    1. For Brunello, I'd look around for a Sant'Antimo DOC from a reputable Brunello producer- the DOC falls roughly in the Brunello region, but permits other grapes in the blend, though most producers usually use +/- 90% Sangio... and they can be found for much less money.
      Amarone is harder... perhaps a Valpolicella Superiore (ages an extra year) from a producer like Marco Satori whose Roccolo Grassi winery (also the name of the single vineyard from which his wines are derived) dries the fruit for about 3 months before pressing it.
      Best of luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jdwdeville

        We haven't tried a Sant'Antimo and will now try a few. Thanks for the recommendation.

      2. Not that it helps you much, as they do not ship to NJ, but Woodland Hills wine near LA has T Bussola TB valpolicella for $ 30, cannot do much better than that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          bussola's amarones and valpos ROCK! you can probably find them in new yawk.

        2. Have you tried any Aglianico's? -- they may work for you. Also Foradori's Teroldego Rotaliano has the kind of earthiness you might like. Zenato's Valpolicella Ripasso is usually among the best examples of that type. Astor has some of these and you might also check Chambers Street WInes for interesting selections.

          1 Reply
          1. re: penthouse pup

            Thanks for suggesting Aglianico, looks promising. I'm not sure how I've missed this. Most of my many years enjoying Italian wines have been from the Veneto or Tuscan regions. We do like Zenato's and others Valpolicella Ripasso's, but of course they're not quite full Amarone's.

          2. came across this 2008 thread with a similar theme - for anyone following along...


            3 Replies
            1. re: Foody4life

              I will second Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese which is mentioned in that post. There is some of that Amarone dried fruit earthy-sweetness for less than $20.

              1. re: kenito799

                I also think it's pretty good for a cheapie. It's in our regular rotation, as the vender loves to gift me bottles.

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  we've also enjoyed the Allegrini PdT - very drinkable at a bargain price. It's our frequent choice for pizza and a movie night!