Monday, March 21, 2022

Amarone Amarone

Amarone Amarone casual quaint Italian dining NYC

In NYC for team meetings, we dined at Amarone, a quaint casual neighborhood Italian restaurant on Ninth Avenue between the Hell's Kitchen restaurant district and the theatre district. 

Amarone serves traditional classic Italian dishes and offers a basic modest Italian wine centered winelist. I don't know if it's fallout from the Covid disruptions or what, but even the limited two page wine list, the number of selections actually available was limited to perhaps single digits. 

No less than five of my selections were not available, and I was offered a modest Chianti Classico table wine. That left a handful at best of remaining options, one Ultra-premium Antinori Tignanello, and this Amarone. At least this was a DOCG classified label and was moderately priced - hence the obvious choice. 

For our entrees, two ordered menu pasta selections, and two of us ordered from two daily specials, a pork chop or a veal chop. I opted for the veal chop in a cheese sauce with spinach and roasted potatoes. 

Both dishes were large generous portions in were dramatic artistic presentations, as was the caprese starter, all shown below. 

Salvalai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Classico 2016

This is from Salvalai, who have been been producing estate wines since 1870 from the grapes grown in the vineyards on the hills overlooking the Verona shore of historic Lake Garda. Salvalai makes wines from the popular Ripasso to the inimitable Amarone, as well as three "Classico" wines of the Verona area (Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella) .

Salvalai was one of the first wineries in the area to successfully export its wines beyond Italy's borders in the late '60s.

Produced in the classic Valpolicella method and style, this is a blend of the classic traditional grape varieties made up of 70-75% Corvina Veronese, 20% Rondinella and 5% Rossignola e Negrara. 

The grapes are sourced from estate vineyards, the twelve acre Vejo vineyard vines exceed 20 years of age, with distinctive terroir of particular soil and climatic, excellent east-west exposure with natural ventilation provided by the cool breezes coming from the nearby Mount Baldo and a mild climate due to the beneficial influences of Lake Garda.

The twenty five acre Sole Vineyard has rich alluvial soil with great exposure of the vines, located in a narrow valley, the vineyard receives a long and consistent exposure by the sun. 

Only perfectly unblemished and dry clusters are selected for the Amarone blend, harvested 1-2 weeks earlier than those for the Valpolicella wine and subjected to the ancient grape drying practice. They are left to dry in selected well-aired locations, called “fruittai”, to avoid being attacked by mold until the end of January. 

By the end of the drying period, the grapes have lost 30-40% of their weight, and their concentration of sugar, an indispensable element during the following fermentation stage to ensure a noteworthy alcoholic level has increased. Maceration is carried out on contact with the skins for a period of 20-30 days, after drawing off the lees, the product is fermented in steel vats, then matured three years and further aged 12 months in large barrels (Slavonian oak) and 30% in small casks, barriques and tonneaux (French oak), finally, prior to the release, matured for at least 6-8 months in the bottles.

The result is intense, concentrated big round ripe fruit forward wines, an acceptable pairing for our food entrees, but a bit intense, not for the feint of heart.

Dark garnet colored, full bodied, sharp intense, concentrated ripe fruits accented by raisin, smoke, notes of creosote and fig with long warm length on the finish. 

RM 88 points.