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Amarone — a study in patience

Amarone — a study in patience
Krista Matthes is owner of SOMM Wines, located just off the square in Fairfield, Iowa. (Submitted)

Don’t you just love it when life comes full circle? Whether it is reconnecting with a childhood friend, or running into that crush you had in college, life has a way of giving you second chances. When I graduated from the University of Iowa and moved back to Las Vegas, I SWORE I would never live in the Midwest again. I couldn’t imagine leaving my family and halting my sommelier career- not until I met my husband. Ten years later, I’m a wife, mother, and proud business owner of my boutique wine store and lounge SOMM Wines in Fairfield. Maybe you can get it right the second time around. Maybe you just need a little time and patience. This brings me to our feature wine this week- Amarone.

The Veneto region in Italy has been home to many artists throughout history, including 13th Century poet Dante, who penned the Divine Comedy. As one of the first poets to write about “courtly love” and unrequited feelings, he coined the term dolce stil novo (sweet new style) to describe the yearning he felt during his life-long pursuit of Beatrice Portinari- he reportedly fell in love with her upon first sight at age 12 without even speaking to her. Although promised to and later marrying Gemma di Manetto Donati, Dante expressed Beatrice as his reason for living and wrote about her often. That kind of devotion reminds me of the winemaking technique appassimento, also known as the Amarone style.

Originally developed by the Ancient Romans, the Amarone method uses three indigenous red varietals- Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara- and requires an abundance of patience. After harvest, grape bunches are laid out to dehydrate for several months, intensifying flavors but also reducing the amount of wine made. After losing 40 percent of their moisture, the grapes will be pressed, and the juice fermented to make a deliciously rich, condensed dry red wine.

The Masi “Costasera,” Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy 2016 ($65.99) is a brilliant representation of the appassimento style. Boasting flavors of dark cherry, dried plum, chocolate and baking spices, it pairs beautifully with the toffee cake featured. Translating to Westward Slopes, the “Costasera” benefits from the reflecting light and cooling breeze off Lake Garda. Another neighboring winery owned by Masi, Tenuta Serego Alighieri, dates to 1353. Here’s where life comes full circle- Dante’s son Pietro Alighieri founded the estate! Now in their 21st generation, Dante himself could not predict the longevity of what his son created. The Veneto is truly a land of perseverance.

The Masi “Costasera” continues its lesson in fortitude in its cellaring. Surprisingly, the acidity and structure create depth against the intense fruits. If cellared, the wine rewards the steadfast for their restraint. Wine Spectator named this bottling #48 in their Top 100 Wines to Cellar in 2022 at 95pts. This Amarone is both an example of fortitude in the winemaking process, but also in the ability to allow it to be cellared for decades.

SOMM WINES

102 E Briggs Avenue, Fairfield, IA

702-528-8101 • sommwines.net