One of the most iconic red wines in the world, Amarone wine comes from a region in Northern Italy called Valpolicella. It is a red wine made with partially dried grapes that is savoury, rich and smooth and is loved and collected by many wine enthusiasts around the world.
?Looking to level up on your date night experiences and pairings? Check out Chef Andrea Bolis smoked beef tartar recipe below for a combination that is built to impress anyone.
Italian Amarone & Valpolicella Wines
Valpolicella is in the province of Verona, within the large Veneto and has a cooler climate Notable and iconic well-known wines have been produced in the Valpolicella region ever since ancient times.
In Italian, the name Amarone translates to “The Great Bitter“. This name was created as a way to distinguish it from the sweet Recioto wine that is produced in the same region. There are multiple grapes used in the production of Amarone wine and they are all indiegenous to the area. Their names are Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella (traditionally also the Molinara grape has been used). Amarone is also made by partially drying out the grapes before pressing them and making them into wine. This process is called appassimento. Grapes are picked and then gently placed on plastic rows in a temperature controlled zone for a period of time before pressing. This process dries out the water in the grapes and concentrates the sugars helping to create a more complex and fuller bodied wine. Amarone wine is made in the region of Valpolicella, hence the name Amarone della Valpolicella.
Curious about Amarone but can’t fathom spending the money on the purest form? Try Valpolicella Ripasso (what they call the poor man’s Amarone). It is a red blend wine made from the same regional grapes as above. Valpolicella Ripasso wine uses the grape pomace leftovers from the Amarone wine to add more complexity and body to the final wine of Valpolicella Ripasso. After initial fermentation, the red wine re-passes over the dried grapes used for the Amarone wine and the re-fermentation on those skins – hence the name Ripasso.
Amarone della Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso are basically sibling wines, but with different flavour profiles. Amarone tends to be full with more weight and Valpolicella Ripasso is medium to full bodied and softer in style.
Three of my favourite wines of this style are from Monte Zovo. The name Monte Zovo comes from the area where the cellar is located, the locality of Zovo, in Caprino Veronese (VR) and it is owned by the Cottini Family. The initial 20 hectares of vines were bought by Raffaello Cottini in 1965 and the property expanded thanks to Mr. Diego Cottini, and sits now at 140 hectares handed down over 100 years through four generations! Today Diego runs the company together with his wife Annalberta (who the wines are also named after) and their sons Michele and Mattia. I was able to visit this winery back in 2018 and spent a few days learning all about Amarone production – by the end of the trip I was known as Angela Amarone and it left a truly special place in my heart.
Diego Cottini is deeply convinced that climate is going to change fast and that vineyards cannot be considered as rigid organisms anymore, but that they need to become flexible and resilient. Therefore, he has shaped his productive philosophy accordingly, looking for high-altitude vineyards. The winery also has a deep respect for nature, has biodiversity certification, uses energy from biomass and uses lightweight bottles, not to mention they are also heading into organic certification.
SWG Wine Recommendations
If you’re looking for the perfect food pairing for these wines, and trust me there are a lot of great ones. I have teamed up with one of my favourite Italian Chefs Andrea Bolis and he’s pulled together a Smoked Beef Tartar recipe. So this way you can open a bottle of wine, put on some Frank Sinatra and indulge in learning how to make beef tartar and sip great Italian wine.
SMOKED BEEF TARTAR RECIPE
- 6oz aged beef tenderloin
- 1 tbs chopped shallots
- 1tbs chopped capers
- 1tbs chopped pickles
- 1tbs chives
- 1tbs dijon mustard
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt & pepper
Chop beef tenderloin in small cubes, mix in finely chopped shallots, capers, pickles and onions, add salt and pepper to taste. Display tartar neatly (use a cookie cutter for shaper or put into ball shapes) on a plate and crack egg on top of tartar for guests to mix on their own. Use a smoker to lightly smoke the tartar for a pure and stunning combination. Pair with Cottini Wines and enjoy!