My eyesight has started to deteriorate in recent months (either that or everyone’s printing things smaller these days), so I initially assumed my vision was deceiving me when I looked at the alcohol volume on this award-winning Tesco Amarone Della Valpolicella — 15.5%. Surely that’s fortified wine territory.
Well, I guess I’ve just revealed how much I knew about Amarone Della Valpolicella before trying this one. Not a lot. Here’s what my research threw up…
What Is Amarone?
Hailing from the Valpolicella region in north-eastern Italy, just west of Venice, Amarone is a highly regarded red wine made predominantly from partially dried Corvina and Corvinone grapes. These are picked late to maximise sweetness, and then left to dry out, resulting in higher sugar levels, and ultimately a stronger alcohol content — of at least 15% volume. And because so many more grapes need to be used in this process, it also results in higher-than-average costs.
Ageing for between two and ten years in oak barrels further pushes up the price, and consequently, this wine’s tag of £18 is a relative bargain compared to many Amarones (I’ve also seen it on offer for £16, which makes it even more worth snapping up).
Cascading from the bottle a delicious deep garnet/purple colour with a rusty rim, the high ethanol content gives this Tesco Amarone legs longer than Usain Bolt on stilts. And, as you might expect, the predominant flavour is raisin. It reminded me in some respects of, say, a Pedro Ximenez or a Madeira, but far less sweet, with a vaguely bitter aftertaste. I also uncovered plum jam, prune, spice and strawberry notes in there, while a touch of tar emerges with oxidation. And, naturally, it tastes pretty alcoholic too.
The Tesco Finest Amarone Valpolicella picked up a gold medal at the 2018 IWC (International Wine Challenge) Awards (as did its cousin the Tesco Finest Barolo), racking up 95 points (whatever that means to you). I wouldn’t rate it quite that highly myself, but if you’re considering diving into the Amarone ocean, you’ll be lucky to find a better-value springboard than this.
4 NINJA STARS
Tesco Finest Amarone Della Valpolicella, 2015. £18 at the time of writing. 15.5% volume.