The Veneto’s Most Exciting Red

The Veneto’s Most Exciting Red

A splurge that's 'absolutely worth it'

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Amarone is the Italian Veneto region’s most distinctive red wine. The “Recioto” version is the older iteration and vinified sweet. The “Amarone,” which combines shriveled grape unctuousness with a dry finish, has only been in existence since the 1950s. Older vintages of Bertani Amarone have always been my touchstone; but today’s wine exemplifies Amarone in its own fascinating way. Brigaldara, only producing wine under its name since 1979, makes a wine of extreme balance so that the higher alcohol is tempered by a structure and dryness that is remarkably rich, yet svelte. (People who admire the California wines of Helen Turley will love this.) Today’s example is their “Case Vecie” bottling, with grapes coming exclusively from two of their finest sites. Expensive, but absolutely worth it.

2012 Brigaldara “Case Vecie” Amarone Della Valpolicella $80-90 srp

An opaque, blood red color. A pure, sensuous nose of raspberry and Amarena cherry compote. Complexity notes include cinnamon, licorice, tobacco and even caramel. Stunningly interesting, it’s almost unnecessary to drink it! The mouth texture is velvety and luxurious, with elements suggesting dried plum and fig. What’s remarkable is the “lift,” lithe and extraordinarily balanced acidity that keeps this so fresh to its long, spicy dry finish. No sense of heat on this balanced beauty despite its 16% alcohol. (A mix of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and field blend grapes.) Try with lamb, a black truffle risotto or a big cigar! Drink now-2025.

95/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.