The 2017 vintage of Amarone della Valpolicella in Verona was a difficult one, with warm weather and hailstorms leading to under-ripe wines. Despite these challenges, the Valpolicella Anteprima returned this year after a pandemic-induced break, showcasing the 2017 vintage. These wines are already on the market, with the current vintage being 2018.

The Valpolicella Anteprima is an annual event that allows wine enthusiasts to taste and evaluate the latest vintage of Amarone della Valpolicella. This year’s event took place in the summer, and the hot weather made it challenging to taste the wines. Temperatures consistently exceeded 33 degrees Celsius, which can affect the flavors and aromas of the wines.

Despite these conditions, several of the wines from the 2017 vintage stood out for their drinkability, fresh fruit flavors, and complex profiles. These included wines from the Classico region, such as Tenute SalvaTerra and Vigneti di Ettore, as well as those from the Valpantena region and the eastern region, such as Ca del Sette Vini and Secondo Marco.

Overall, the 2017 vintage of Amarone della Valpolicella demonstrated a wide range of styles and flavors. Some wineries used wood to tame the fruit flavors, while others showcased earthy and wild characteristics. The hailstorms and warm weather presented challenges for winemakers, but many were able to create high-quality wines despite these difficulties.

The Valpolicella Anteprima is an important event for wine enthusiasts and professionals alike, as it allows them to taste and evaluate the latest vintage of Amarone della Valpolicella. The 2017 vintage may have been challenging, but it demonstrated the resilience and skill of Verona’s winemakers and the diverse range of flavors that Amarone della Valpolicella can offer.

To evaluate the wines at the tasting, the writer conducted a double-blind tasting by randomly selecting wines from a pool of covered bottles. This ensured that the bottles were not ranked alphabetically or by region by the sommelier team.

Many of the wines had a rich, plummy flavor and some winemakers used excessive amounts of wood, which gave the wine a strong vanilla note. Of the 40 samples presented, the writer identified several that stood out for their drinkability, fresh fruit flavors, and complex profiles. These wines also demonstrated good judgement in the use of wood.

The Classico region

  • Vigneti di Ettore
    Sweet cherry notes lined with a streak of woody touch. Tannins were fleshy and supple with a vibrant backbone.
  • Santa Sofia
    An abundance of dried floral notes (potpourri in a glass) underlined with a good core of cherry fruit flavour. Well extracted and polished fruit tannins.
  • Tenute SalvaTerra
    A very classic style of Amarone della Valpolicella. Plummy nose with lightly dried figs but on the palate, the wine is fresh, bright and juicy.
  • Terre di Leone
    A husband and wife team produces a total volume of between 30 and 40 thousand bottles a year. Apparent pepper note on the nose and violets on the palate. A zesty style with its energetic acidity.

The eastern region

  • Fattori
    Red floral with a peppery undertone, giving an impression of Southern Rhone Grenache. Lively on entry; rich, round, yet lifted on the mid, and finishes off with crunchy cherries.
  • Ca del Sette Vini
    Peppery with a fresh violet undertone. Entry to the palate was vibrant and finishes with velvety smooth and balanced acidity. It appears this winery doesn’t list its Amarone della Valpolicella online and the wine of the same name was marketed as Veneto IGT.
  • Secondo Marco
    Ripe stewy fruits, almost like a cherry pie. Palate entry isn’t heavy, but tannins are taut with bright acidity. Ends with a nice cherry-compote finishing.
  • Massimago
    Light sandalwood, a touch of cacao and coffee over the cherries note. Palate sensation is very well defined. Fleshy and round on the palate but not chunky thanks to the excellent oak management. More than a century old, the winery was relaunched in 2003 by Camilla Rossi Chauvenet and certified organic in 2014.
  • Le Guaite di Noemi
    Distinctive herbal notes with a touch of herbaceous and forest underbrush. Very good structure for this wine. A strong contrast to the fruit-driven style, this Amarone della Valpolicella is more earthy and wild.

The Valpantena region

  • Corte Figaretto
    A whiff of sweet wood smoke, and intense plum core. While this did not immediately appeal to me with its plummy intensity, the balance and structure deserve merit.

During this year’s tasting of the 2017 vintage, some lesser-known wineries outside of the Classico region were discovered. This suggests that the change in climate has also benefited other valleys that have historically been cooler and less ideal for ripening grapes. This change seems to be positive and beneficial.

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