Then there’s that one bottle that whips your head around, snaps you to attention, and generally rocks your world.
This was the 1977 Masi Amarone.
We enjoyed this bottle in Verona, the night before Vinitaly. It was a classic reminder of the local wine making traditions, and a perfect way to kick off the trade show season. I love the way the label says “Amarone Recioto della Valpolicella”. Today we think of “Recioto” as the sweet version of this wine, however traditionally both both sweet and dry-vinified versions have been denoted this way. Made from an indigenous blend of Molinara, Corvina, Rondinella, and potentially a handful of other lovely grapes, this wine was a masterpeice. The grapes are dried on mats before pressing, then vinified all the way to a dry wine. This process creates chocolatey, dried-fruit aromas and a deep, rich, silky mouthfeel.
What does a 1977 Masi Amarone taste like? First off, the color was delightful- like a Pinot Nero or Nebbiolo. The nose was indescribably complex, layered with pipe tobacco, dried carnations, violets, prunes, baked cherries and a subtle, earthy bit of tar. On the palate the experience was pure luxury- soft tannins, integrated acid and a luscious, unctuous mouthfeel. This was a revelation for me- THIS is what Amarone is capable of.
Of course, everything tastes better in Verona, a platter of cheese and some kind of cured meat on the table, and a couple of friends to share it all with.