Sometimes you find a wine that is such an absurdly good value, you can’t believe it. Thanks to this blog, I can tell you when I come across one. This week, you MUST try the ridiculously good Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella.
I have a love/hate relationship with Amarone. It’s mostly love. The good ones I have had rank among the best I have ever tasted; but I have had many that were not good, and that’s a problem because most good Amarones are way out of my price range. The reason they’re more pricey is because the process to make it is so intense.
Pressing grapes after harvest usually happens fairly quickly; with white wines it’s almost immediately after harvest, and a bit longer with reds, but with Amarone, it’s a whole different deal. After the grapes (usually Corvina) are harvested, they are dried on racks for up to 120 days, losing most of their moisture and becoming almost raisins in the process. This unique “appassimento” process results in more concentrated flavors, and big, powerful wine, usually running at least $40 per bottle on the low end.
Imagine my surprise when I saw $16.99 at the Trader Joe’s wine section. I thought to myself, “Ah, this must be a really crappy wine.” So I asked the wine guy, “is this really an Amarone, or some kind of pseudo-Amarone?” The guy said “Not only is this real Amarone, it’s a really GOOD Amarone.”
Still skeptical, I bought one bottle and took it home. My first inclination was to hold it for a bigger Italian meal, but my wife and I decided – at that price – to pop the cork and give it a go.
Conclusion? This wine is a STEAL!
If you’ve never tried Amarone before, this would be a nice introduction. You’ll find the characteristic deep, rich, concentrated dark fruit flavors of more expensive Amarone, blackberry and raisin, plum and cedar, balanced with a long, round, peppery finish. It drinks like fine wine, and why it’s not selling for $30 or more is a mystery to me, but you won’t find me complaining about it.
On my five cork scale based on taste and value, I give the 2012 Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 4.5 corks!
If you’d like to try interesting wines like this at our next Wine Wednesday Tasting Party at The Wharf Tavern, click here to win a spot on the guest list!