Amarone 2017 – Success From A Challenging Vintage

The new releases of Amarone della Valpolicella from the 2017 vintage are now becoming available in the marketplace, and having tasted through a few dozen of these wines, it’s been interesting to see how local producers were able to cope with seriously warm temperatures and far too little rain. Temperatures were warmer than normal in June, July and August, but were cooler than normal in September and October; these figures based on a 30-year average. Fortunately these milder conditions in September and October greatly helped producers craft well-balanced wines in the final analysis.

Overall, 2017 is a vintage with fruit-forward wines that are impressive now, and while they probably will not age as well as recent notable vintages such as 2013 and 2016, the wines are on the whole, nicely balanced with impressive character.

Here are quotes from two producers about the vintage:

“201t was very hot and dry. On the one hand it helped us in the defense against fungal diseases, it also helped to have a beautiful color and a good sugar content.

“On the other hand it involved the risk of having low acidity and sunburn of the grape skins. We were helped in managing this situation by the fact that the pergola (overhead trellises to protect the bunches from excessive heat and solar exposure) training system leaves the bunches in dim light and that the hillside vineyards generally produce fresher grapes.

But we also had to manage this situation by anticipating the harvest at the end of August, to maintain good acidity. We also shortened the drying process to avoid excessive concentration and exaggerated jammy notes. In the end, it was a great vintage. – Gabriele Righetti, Vigneti di Ettore (Negrar).

“For me the vintage 2017 is more uniform throughout the Valpolicella area, compared to other vintages. It is a vintage with structured but elegant wines that aim for finesse, with high quality … Climatically it was not exactly a simple vintage.” – Noemi Pizzighela, Le Guaite di Noemi, Mezzane di Sotto

Here are my notes on several recommended examples of 2017 Amarone della Valpolicella:

Secondo Marco – Bing cherry, red poppy and carnation aromas. Very good concentration, subdued wood notes, good acidity and round, elegant tannins. Outstanding harmony and beautiful complexity. First-rate Amarone from this vintage, crafted in a traditional style. Best in 12-15 years. (93)

Ca’ La Bionda – Ripe aromas of maraschino cherry, fig and anise. Rich mid-palate, notable complexity, good acidity, perfectly integrated oak notes. Excellent structure and persistence; beautifully made. This should last for at least 15-18 years. (93)

Massimago – Strawberry, red cherry and red orchid aromas. Medium-full with very good ripeness, medium-weight, balanced tannins; this offers a lot of charm. Peak in 10-12 years. (92)

Le Guaite di Noemi – Very pretty ruby red color; aromas of ripe strawberry and morel cherry. Medium-full, this is fruit-forward with good acidity, round tannins and very good persistence and complexity. Best in 10-12 years. (91)

Vigneti di Ettore – Bright ruby red; aromas of strawberry jam, morel cherry and juniper. Medium-full tannins that are well balanced, very good persistence, balanced acidity and pronounced black spice notes in the finish. Very well made in a traditional style. (89)

Bertani – This is the Valpantena Amarone from Bertani, not the famous Amarone della Classico version (that 2017 will not be released for several more years). Aromas of wild strawberry, red cherry, thyme and burnt cherry. Medium-full with very good concentration, slightly bitter tannins and appealing red spice notes in the finish. Give this a year or two to settle down; peak drinking in 10-12 years. (89)

Ca’ Rugate – Morel cherry, strawberry and red currant aromas. Medium-full, evident oak notes, very good typicity, medium-weight tannins. Peak in 10-12 years. (88)

Novaia – Strawberry, red currant and brown herb aromas. Medium-full, very good typicity and balance. A bit short in the finish, but otherwise impressive; peak in 8-10 years. (88)

Bolla “Le Origini” – Aromas of black cherry, red currant and brown spice. Medium-full, with ripe, medium- weight tannins. Nicely balanced oak notes and acidity. Give another year to round out; peak in 10-12 years. (88)

Santa Maria di Gaetano Bertani – Red cherry and red floral aromas with a hint of thyme. Medium-full with a clean, round finish, balanced acidity, moderate tannins and wood notes. Straightforward, this will be at is best in 8-10 years. (88)

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