[The map of Italy, with the Vento region highlighted, is borrowed from the Italylogue.com Website.]

My husband said to me, “You don’t know what Amarone wine is?” like I really should know. “No,” I answered, “I don’t have a clue.”

With the last 25 years of my life devoted to learning about and working with wine, he had high hopes. Sorry to say, I had to burst the bubble. If there’s anything I’ve learned about wine, it’s that the depth of the subject is endless. If I asked you, “Do you know who Yegor Leontievich Chernykh is?” I’m betting that only a very few of you – if anyone reading this now – could tell me that he put the “Russian” into Russian River Valley.

Wine Blog:

In 1836, the Russians sent Moscow-trained agronomist Yegor Leontievich Chernykh, to the Sonoma Coast, in order to improve the crops being grown for their consumption. Chernykh settled in Green Valley, and established a farm along Purrington Creek. This land is just west of what’s now called Graton in Green Valley, just between today’s towns of Occidental and Graton.

My education has been elsewhere; Russian River Valley, New Zealand, Portugal, Oregon, all of California now (really), Washington State. I am, however clueless, eager to learn anything new, because it delights me to peel away more layers of this mysterious elixir. So, here we go.

#IAMarone 101 ~Let’s Explore

What is an Amarone wine?

Amarone della Valpolicella is usually known as Amarone. It’s a rich, Italian dry red wine, and crafted from the partially dried grapes from the Corvina cultivar.

  • A bit complicated, even for me, knowing that Italy has more cultivars, rivaling Portugal’s 500+ varieties, these are now new names to know and remember.
  • Amarone is comprised of 45 to 95 percent of Corvina grapes
    • Up to 50 percent could be substituted with Corvinone and Rondinella grapes (from five to 30 percent)
    • And, other approved red grape varieties, up to 25 percent

As Complicated as a Menage a Trois, right?

Let’s get down with it:

  • The Corvina cultivar
    • Sometimes also referred to as Corvina Veronese or Cruina
    • Grown in the Veneto region of northeast Italy (map above)
    • It’s an original red grape of Valpolicella (sub region of Vento)
    • See map above, borrowed from the avvinare Website
    • It is high in acidity
    • It is best grown in the Veneto wine region
  • The Corvinone cultivar
    • Corvinone is not to be confused with Corvina; they’re two different grape varieties
    • Corvinone and Corvina are both from the Veneto region
    • Corvinone is also blended into other wines, like Bardolino and Valpolicella
    • It’s less alcoholic and higher in acid than Corvina
    • It grows best on hills
    • It’s sensitive to the “noble rot,” Botrytis
  • The Rondinella cultivar
    • Translated, Rondinella means a “small swallow,” with its small berries
    • Rondinella can comprise up to 20 to 30 percent of the blend for Amarone wines
    • This wine has a high sugar content
    • It’s easy to grow for vineyardists
  • “Other”
    • Molinara ~ May contribute to an Amarone by only five to 10 percent
    • Negrara ~ Widely used in the extended Valpolicella area
    • Forsellina ~ Resistant to diseases, but it produces a small bunch = quality
    • Pelara ~ Excellent to dry, because of its very loosely packed bunch
    • Oseleta ~ High in tannins = small berries full of seeds and a thick dark skin

As I wrote, it’s a pretty complicated wine, as regards what is proper to use when it comes time to making it. If you’ve worked with it all of your life, I’m sure that it’s as simple as crafting a Bordeaux blend. For those of us just getting into the groove, we’ve now been given the recipe.

The Amarone Tours website has been extremely helpful in nailing down what grapes go into making an Amarone Wine. How to construct it? Next time, kiddies. This time, we’ve assembled the players.

#IAMarone ~ Thanks to Cesari Vineyard of Verona, one of the finest Vineyards of the Valpolicella region. Cesari Vineyard of Verona is celebrating 80 years of producing some of Italy’s greatest wines this year. To mark this occasion, Cesari invited me to be part of an elite group of 80 influencers selected to represent Cesari Amarone! Cesari will be taking over Manhattan with events and giveaways all summer that you will have exclusive access to.