Wine of the Week: Amarone della Valpolicella Classico from Sartori

Arena

With Thanksgiving upon us, I am thinking of all the wines I have paired with Turkey in the past and what I am going to choose for tomorrow. One of the wines I often consider is Amarone. I think it is a little heavy for the Turkey but it is my Dad’s favorite wine and so this week, the wine of the week is an Amarone della Valpolicella from Casa Vinicola Sartori.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Sartori and his wine maker Franco Bernabei on a number of occasions, most recently at the last Vinitaly show in April of this year.

Others have written long and eloquent articles on both men such as this one by Charles Scicolone and this one by Andrew Chalk.

Arena di Verona

I wanted to mention a project that Sartori did this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s death. The Foundation of the Arena di Verona launched a red and a white wine that celebrated the local wines from the Consortium of Bardolino, Custoza, Soave and Valpolicella. It was the first time that some 4,900 producers and growers from the Verona area worked together to support one of the region’s most important cultural landmarks.

The white was a Garganega Verona IGT 2012 and the red was a Corvina Verona IGT 2011. Sartori is the official partner of the Arena Foundation and was behind much of the logistics and technical support for the project, including the packaging. Franco Bernabei was asked to create the wines together with the various Consorzi. The wines were offered and sold in local restaurants and wine shops, with part of the revenue given to the Arena Foundation for future initiatives.

Additionally Sartori launched a special edition of their Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 and has donated part of the sales from that wine to the Arena Foundation. The wine has been served at a number of events, including one last month in Hong Kong that also involved the Gino Strada’s non-profit Emergency. Large format numbered bottles signed by cultural icons, sports figures and singers were part of that event.

While I didn’t get to taste these wines at the Vinitaly event, I have had the pleasure of tasting their Amarone della Valpolicella. Made from a blend of grapes, 50% Corvina Veronese, 40% Rondinella and 10% Molinara, The grapes are grown in soil composed of clay and calcareous material.

A big juicy version of Amarone, I find it more approachable than a number of the others I know well. It has some spice and earthy notes that I also appreciate and that make it pair well with food.

In terms of Verdi operas, one is actually playing at the Metropolitan Opera this evening, Rigoletto. I love opera and I have been lucky enough to see Aida, Carmen and Il Trovatore at the Arena in Verona. It is an experience that everyone should have at least once in a lifetime. Even if you don’t like opera, there are plenty of occasions to attend a concert at Verdi. I saw Sting there some years ago as well, another incredible experience.

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