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Allegrini 2024
IN THE GLASS

Amarone 2019 presented in Verona: in the glass one of the last (rather) regular vintages

In the glass the latest vintage on the market: between climate change and new styles. Famiglie Storiche spin-off in “Bottega del vino”

The 2019 vintage of Amarone della Valpolicella is a vintage that - according to the tasting panel of the Consorzio di tutela dei Vini della Valpolicella - wins “five stars” thanks to a “high sensory quality, with olfactory and taste profiles that reflect the characteristics of the appellation in a centered and modern way. As for the longevity perspective, it presents a great aging potential without lacking in freshness and drinkability, perfectly collimating with today’s consumption trends”. It is the oenological result of a fairly regular vintage, the kind that (yes, we always say it, to prepare for a climate trend in free fall) we will see more and more rarely. The synthesis emerges from “Amarone Opera Prima” 2024, in the past few days, in Verona, where there is, moreover, the image of a territory reckoning with the market difficulties encountered by so many red wines, but still healthy, with a record Amarone value, at 13 euros per liter for bulk, a yield per hectare up to 25,000 euros today (up from 5,000 in 1993), and with a territory turnover, related to wine, around 600 million euros, and a value per hectare, in Valpolicella (where there are 8,600) that, on average, oscillates between 500,000 and 600,000 euros, values among the highest in Italy.
The Consortium’s meteorological analysis recalled a cool and rainy spring, which slowed down the first stages of physiological life development compared to the average of the previous 8 years; a very hot summer with some heat waves and some instability (also - unfortunately - in the form of hail), which sped up the pace of plant and bunch development; and a beginning of autumn with good temperature ranges that helped bunch quality and led to a harvest in line with the historical average. A season that brought to the winery grapes that tended to be healthy, suffered relatively contained pathogen attacks, and left balanced plants in the vineyard thanks to soils with good water supply, accumulated in the first half of the year.
At the production level, 2019 is positioned at a crucial moment in consortium policies to contain potential, with a maximum allowed yield reduced for the first time from 12 to 11 tons per hectare, and a maximum set-aside sorting of 4.4 tons per hectare (4.95 for “sustainable” production). This resulted in a production of 310,177 quintals in drying out of 882,831 total quintals, lower than the previous year (when there were 971,264 total quintals and 335,025 quintals in drying; the same figures for 2022 are up again with 417. 254 quintals in drying out of 931,742 total quintals) despite 109 more hectares claimed than in 2018 (8,296 total hectares compared to 8,187 in 2018 and 8,586 hectares in 2022, still up). For bottling data, the 2019 vintage stands at 15,435,467 bottles of Amarone and Recioto (growing moderately but steadily since 2010, peaking in 2021 at nearly 19 million bottles to fall back to just over 17 million in 2022). Interestingly, the growth of Ripasso has been much more sustained (rising from 7,481,867 bottles to over 30 million bottles by 2021), while Valpolicella production has dropped precipitously since 2005 (with just over 41 million bottles), stabilizing at around 19 million bottles from 2013 to the present.
In the glass, the wines generally proved to be more agile in drinking, following a trend now underway (and hoped for, even in the words of the speakers at the event’s annual conference) that leaves only a few limited examples of space for “old style” Amarones among those usually presented at the event. Fairly widespread agility, then, without, however, being able to fully integrate the important alcoholic contribution that characterizes the prince wine of the appellation. Finally, decisive tannins, sometimes still biting, good contribution of sapidity and materiality, without weighing down the sip, a freshness mostly hidden, but increasingly paid attention by producers: a performance, in short, that coincides with less uneven phenological phases than in past years, but that must be addressed better and better in the cellar: because the berries of a regular vintage, which allows a gradual ripening of the bunch, are not the same as those that go through unpredictable temperatures and fluctuating insolation, even if all in all, at the end of the cycle, they recover the final harvest times.
Among the 73 wines tasted (presented by 71 wineries) at the technical tasting of Amarone della Valpolicella 2019, according to WineNews staff, emerged - in order of tasting - the floral intensity with an iodine touch and savory grip of Albino Armani’s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2019; the elegant finesse of Bertani’s Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena, with sweet/acerbic red fruit aromas and a well-balanced sip between color and freshness; the balanced sweetness of Bottega’s Amarone della Valpolicella Il Vino degli Dei 2019, surprisingly flowing in its gustatory grit; and the shaggy vivacity of Adalia’s Amarone della Valpolicella Ruvaln 2019, with its rhythmic persistence on the palate; the clear juiciness of Contrada Palui’s Amarone della Valpolicella 2019, which has made transparency its trademark; the welcoming rhythm of Costa Arènte’s Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena 2019, citrusy both on the palate and in its aromas; the pomegranate candy of Accordini Igino’s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Le Bessole 2019, minute on the palate but juicy throughout the sip; but also the gentle full-bodiedness of La Collina dei Ciliegi’s Amarone della Valpolicella Ciliegio 2019, anticipated by the scents of fresh flowers and fruits; the minty fruitiness on the nose and peppery grip in the mouth of Massimago’s 2019 Amarone della Valpolicella Conte Gastone; the central density of Pasqua’s 2019 Amarone della Valpolicella Famiglia Pasqua, which dark and savory, manages to be delicate and smooth; the fresh grip of Piccoli’s 2019 Amarone della Valpolicella La Parte, still in barrel but already well-defined in its reveal; the woody liveliness of Santa Sofia’s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2019, which turns into calm ematicity on the sip; the classic finesse of Secondo Marco’s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2019, a cask champion, already layered, persistent and very balanced on the palate; finally, the herbaceous savoriness of Zeni 1870’s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigne Alte, again a cask champion, which well balances its fruity sweetness.

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