February Diary 2019

The Annual Anteprima Amarone Tasting of the 2015 vintage  

We then stopped by the stands of our historic favorites and tasted some producers that were new to us.

Generally speaking, 2015 was a very good commercial vintage. Practically every wine we tasted had a juicy richness.

As I chatted with producers the themes that have been cropping up for the past four years once again emerged. 1) The Consortium should stage the Anteprima Amarone tasting in a major city in the USA and in China.  2) The Consortium should make peace with “The Amarone Families – Famiglie dell’Amarone d’Arte”. Those of you who know what this last entity is need no explanation. Those of you who do not – well, you really don’t need to know. It just concerns some squabbling among local producers and does not affect you in any way. 

English Lesson: Squabble is such a fine word. As a noun squabble means a noisy quarrel about something trivia.  As a verb “to squabble” means to quarrel noisily over a trivial matter.

I decided to dig in my wine closet and haul out three old Amarones…just to see how they had fared. The triumph of trio was the 2005 Nicolis – a lively, fresh undertow buoyed the clean velvety fruit. I have been fond of Nicolis since I first tried the wines in the 1990s and was happy to see that this Amarone went the distance.

I will not name the producers of the two other wines – a 1990 and a 2006. Suffice it to say that both had won major international awards. A sip of these wines left me feverish. This has happened to me with certain wines since I entered the wine trade 30-some years ago. In recent years this reaction has abated because general hygiene and winemaking techniques have improved.

I used to feel like the canaries they sent down in the mines. if a wine made me feel feverish, I refused to write about it – even if it had won a ton of prizes and the producer wanted to buy major advertising in the magazines I wrote for. My feeling was that if I had tasted through several samples of wines from the same area and supposedly made from the same grape varieties, using the same methods as prescribed by the DOC/G laws, and one of these wines (out of all the wines in the flight) made me ill, then that meant that that one sample was not a wine I would ever recommend to others.  

For those of you who do not understand the reference to “canaries sent down the mine: (from Wikipedia): Etymology. An allusion to caged canaries (birds) that miners would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.