Hannibal Lechter is the ultimate gourmet. Sure, his taste in meats was a bit over the edge, but his selections of wine show true oenophile instincts. The movie version of the book Silence of the Lambs does not do him credit, though. They 'dumbed down' his fine wine passion to a pedestrian wine - Chianti. His true passion was for a much bolder red - Amarone della Valpolicella!
What is Amarone?
Amarone della Valpolicella, or Amarone for short, is created in the Venitian region of Italy. Originally there was only one legal region, or DOC, for the Valpolicella name. These wines are made with the Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. Two sub-groups emerged, though - recioto
, which is a sweet dessert wine, and amarone
, which is a dry red wine with great body.
Both of these wines are made with grapes that have been dried on racks, bringing out their flavors. In 1991 these two were granted their own DOCs. The land area encompassed by these three DOCs is the same, but the types of wine are quite different.
Amarone is the fourth biggest seller in Italy, behind Chianti
, and Soave
. This fine wine has flavors of tobacco and fig, and goes well with game and ripe cheese. Hannibal, of course, had his with fava beans. While some styles can be very bitter (that's where the name comes from), new styles are more fruity.
Amarone can be drunk young, while still a ruby purple, but they also age magnificently to a dark garnet for thirty years or more. A typical drinking age is 10 years. Amarone should be served around 60 F.
What are some good Amarone?
Here are some tasty, reasonably priced amarones I've had in the past.
1994 Capitel de Roari Amarone della Valpolicella
We opened this bottle over a meal of angel hair pasta with basil sauce. The color was interesting, a deep raspberry. The aroma was delicious, of tobacco and fig and other fruits. Then the taste! Again, tobacco, complex, with perhaps carmel or butterscotch or something in there. Long finish. Quite a treat.
1990 Villa Girardi Amarone dell Valpolicella
At 14.5% alcohol, this dried-grape-wine is a dark garnet color and a rich, fruity flavor - plum is strong. This one's slight bite of tannin is smoothed by the other fruits in its flavor.
1990 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
We tasted this at the Nantucket Wine Festival. Very smooth feel, full, with berry flavors - raspberry, blackberry. Quite smooth tannins too. Long, delicious finish.
Chianti Wine Information
Amarone Wine Information
Wine in Movies, TV Shows and Books
All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.