Amarone questions / Decanting

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 636
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Amarone questions / Decanting

#1 Post by Sh@n A » April 3rd, 2019, 5:55 am

I have a 1981 Bertani Amarone on tap for this weekend. I am relatively new to Amarone, having had only a couple, which have been on both sides of spectrum... one a more plush and (sweeter sensation) raisinated wine (a < 10YR old wine of a producer I cannot recall)... the other a more big and powerful wine but not as raisinated (1998 Allegrini).

Accordingly, I have two very different questions for the Amarone experts here:
1) I have stood up the 1981 for a few weeks now, and will decant for sediment. But how much in advance should I decant an older bottle? My ideal plan would be to double-decant in the AM, taking the bottle with me to the office and then to dinner. But perhaps I should be double decanting right before dinner to be safer? From a brief note on the 1998, it struck me that wine needed an hour to open up; it was one of many bottles on the night so the tasting note doesn't follow it post.

2) How does one predict how raisinated an Amarone will be? Is it a function of producer, vintage or age? Would you generally expect an older Amarone to be more or less raisinated?

Kind of a side question... I realized I have a 2006 Zenato laying around as well. My initial plan was to do a Barbaresco to start (want to try one of the 2016s), but I imagine there would be an education in having the 2006 Zenato first with the 1981 post to compare. A high class question, for sure.

Thank you in advance for thoughts & advice.
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
Kris Patten
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3792
Joined: February 1st, 2009, 6:25 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#2 Post by Kris Patten » April 3rd, 2019, 6:36 am

I wouldn't decant an 81 for more than an hour and only for sediment. Bertani makes traditional Amarone, not in a syrupy way. Should be a very restrained wine.

I definitely wouldn't decant all day as suggested.

No clue what is on tap for dinner, but a young Amarone and older seems like a lot of Amarone to me.
ITB

User avatar
GregT
Posts: 6919
Joined: April 15th, 2009, 3:12 pm

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#3 Post by GregT » April 3rd, 2019, 8:42 am

Yeah but it depends on how many people are around. We've done Amarone dinners without much collateral damage. There are Cabs and Zins and Rhone blends that come in at pretty high alcohol levels as well.

As to the OP's question regarding how raisined the wine will be - a lot depends on the producer. In addition to the location of the vineyards, the producers have a number of options in the exact blend of grapes they use, how much they dry the grapes, and how dry they make the wine. Some, like Dal Forno, are fermented completely dry but they still have a lot of weight in the mouth because of the glycerol, which also gives them the sensation of sweetness even though there's barely any residual sugar. And then sometimes there's botrytis, which also changes the character of the wine.

Usually the less expensive wines from the biggest producers tend to have a bit more RS, but that's not necessarily true in every single case. Bertani is one of the oldest producers and if I'm not mistaken, the biggest or one of the biggest. At least they're the most ubiquitous. Masi wines often tend to come in at the lower end of the alcohol spectrum for Amarone and Zenato at the higher end with a little more chocolate and RS.

In fact, although you read these descriptions all the time, Amarone is the only wine I've had where I sometimes pick up distinct notes of chocolate. And even though I think chocolate is a foolish pairing with wine, when it's part of the flavor profile, it works. [cheers.gif]
G . T a t a r

User avatar
ky1em!ttskus
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4449
Joined: January 27th, 2012, 7:38 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#4 Post by ky1em!ttskus » April 3rd, 2019, 8:49 am

Pleeeeease post notes!

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 15820
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#5 Post by John Morris » April 3rd, 2019, 11:47 am

GregT wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 8:42 am
Amarone is the only wine I've had where I sometimes pick up distinct notes of chocolate.
Have you ever had Banyuls? I often find a marked chocolate note in them.
“The writing of legislation is perhaps the highest art form the United States has yet achieved, even more original and compelling than the television commercial.” – Gore Vidal, 1974

It's hard for a $35 zin to compete with a $100 cabernet that tastes the same. – me, 2018

User avatar
Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 636
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#6 Post by Sh@n A » April 3rd, 2019, 12:29 pm

Thanks for the thoughts/advice; will report back.
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 636
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#7 Post by Sh@n A » April 13th, 2019, 6:41 pm

Here's my tasting note of the '81. Curious for thoughts on the cork quality/bottle being compromised.

Decanted for sediment two hours before consuming. No sediment??? Cork was soaked 50 percent through (outright wet). Clearly the retailer misled on how other bottles of their case showed on the cork.

Nose: Cedar. Plum. A little perfumed, dusty floral note. Over time a candied red plum note. With the cork issue, I was thinking the cedar could have been a slightly corked wine, but over time, I didn't think this wine was corked.

Palate: Silky mouthfeel. Black and purple plum. Over time this turned into sweet prune and red cherry - a quite nice albeit slightly sweet combination. Sweet ripe fruit but not jammy or cloying, or overly dense. A touch of sweet vanilla from resolved wood. A little damp soil.

Finish. At first this was slightly astringent. Felt this relaxed and disappeared with air. And then after two hours became much more astringent red cherry. With astringency being a little volatile in this, perhaps the age resulted in more volatility after opening or a taster who was in varying states of sobriety? not sure.

92-93. Maybe this was a bad bottle because the stuffing was there for 95. The volatile astringency would take this down to a 92. I have one more bottle of the same lot, and content to wait 2 years to try it... but suspect it will have the same cork issue.
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
Matt A u s t i n
Posts: 142
Joined: February 17th, 2010, 4:14 pm
Location: Walla Walla, WA

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#8 Post by Matt A u s t i n » April 13th, 2019, 7:03 pm

Cork soaked 50% through doesn’t seem that unusual for a 1981 and wouldn’t be something I would be too concerned about as far as wine quality is concerned. 92-93 is a nice score, so sounds like you did alright.
Owner/Winemaker - Grosgrain Vineyards, Walla Walla, WA - grosgrainvineyards.com

User avatar
ky1em!ttskus
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4449
Joined: January 27th, 2012, 7:38 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#9 Post by ky1em!ttskus » April 13th, 2019, 10:47 pm

Seems like a correct, if underwhelming, bottle.

I’ve had very few “older” wines that I really enjoyed. Usually, I prefer the exuberance of youth and structure. So, I’ve stopped expecting amazing moments from older bottles and am occasionally surprised.

User avatar
David Glasser
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5704
Joined: August 16th, 2009, 6:03 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#10 Post by David Glasser » April 14th, 2019, 5:19 am

Sh@n A wrote:
April 13th, 2019, 6:41 pm
Here's my tasting note of the '81. Curious for thoughts on the cork quality/bottle being compromised.

Decanted for sediment two hours before consuming. No sediment??? Cork was soaked 50 percent through (outright wet). Clearly the retailer misled on how other bottles of their case showed on the cork.
A cork soaked half way up wouldn’t concern me. Signs of seepage or an area where the entire length of the cork was wet or wine stained would be of more concern, as would a low fill.

As to the retailer's veracity, you may be right but I wouldn’t be too quick to judge. Cork integrity can vary significantly from one bottle to the next even from the same case.

User avatar
Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 636
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#11 Post by Sh@n A » April 14th, 2019, 5:32 am

Helpful knowledge on the cork, thanks!

Two questions;
1) what causes a cork to get very wet/soaked for a portion of the cork? Is this related to age and not say slow heat related damage (where the wine slowly expands up the cork and not seeps)?
2) does my tasting note re astringency make sense at all? There were times the wine felt glorious and other times it had more astringency. Could an old wine like this be so volatile? Or in my head?
3) I was surprised there was no sediment (literally none) and bottle was stood up for 2 weeks prior to opening.
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
David Glasser
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5704
Joined: August 16th, 2009, 6:03 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#12 Post by David Glasser » April 14th, 2019, 9:41 am

Could be steady slow progression up the side due to a less than perfect seal. Or episodes of progression from temperature swings. In my experience the staining is not predictive of quality on an older bottle.

I equate astringency with acidity. It’s not unusual for me to perceive variability in acid or tannin over time while drinking some bottles. I'm never sure whether it’s the wine, the influence of food, or me, so I don’t have anything helpful to add there.

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 558
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#13 Post by Otto Forsberg » April 15th, 2019, 4:30 am

Sh@n A wrote:
April 14th, 2019, 5:32 am
Helpful knowledge on the cork, thanks!

Two questions;
1) what causes a cork to get very wet/soaked for a portion of the cork? Is this related to age and not say slow heat related damage (where the wine slowly expands up the cork and not seeps)?
2) does my tasting note re astringency make sense at all? There were times the wine felt glorious and other times it had more astringency. Could an old wine like this be so volatile? Or in my head?
3) I was surprised there was no sediment (literally none) and bottle was stood up for 2 weeks prior to opening.
I'm quite confused because of your terminology. Usually "astringent" in wine talk is used almost solely in relation to tannins, not VA. Noticeable VA can cause a rough, coarse feeling and even sensation of burning in the back of the mouth and throat, but it is normally not referred to as "astringency". I wonder if you are referring to this feeling or something else?

Old wines certainly can be heavily volatile. VA comes from with extended contact with oxygen and normally older wines have had more time to be in contact with the oxygen than young wines. Apart from some very natural wines, most of the heavily volatile wines have been older Italian red wines. Because of the drying process Amarone is heavily susceptible to higher levels of VA.

If it is an older cork it is very normal for it to be soaked even up to 95% of its length and the wine can still be in pristine condition. Older corks start to become soggy with age and normally the higher the alcohol and/or acidity, the faster this happens. This is why Madeiras are normally recommended to be kept upright instead of laying the bottles on their sides.

I've had dry reds from the early 30's that showed almost no sediment whatsoever. Nothing particularly weird there either, although most Amarones tend to drop some sediment with age.

User avatar
Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 636
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#14 Post by Sh@n A » April 15th, 2019, 6:29 am

Thanks Otto and sorry. I learned many things in your post. Including, (i) I definitely use the term astringency in terms of a burning sensation akin to harsh alcohols, which appears patently incorrect. I'm a little surprised that astringency is used instead for tannin, but something astringent is technically drying so I guess it makes plenty of sense. I will have to find a time to go back and edit old tasting notes for clarity / not use the term going forward as it may be ambiguous to laypeople and (ii) In terms of volatile acidity, I am 0 for 2 here on consistent wine parlance (I will do better). It was less question/comment about "volatile acidity" as much as "acidity which could be perceived as volatile over a tasting experience" (and not a reference to "acetic acid" specifically).
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 558
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#15 Post by Otto Forsberg » April 15th, 2019, 6:54 am

Yes, astringency in wine parlance is normally the same thing as the tannic grip, i.e. when they make your gums dry out, since astringency means chemical constriction (and the resluting drying) of body tissue - not just generic harshness or bitterness, as some seem to think. However, some very high-acid white wines seem to also have this characteristic; normally high acidity makes your mouth water, but some very high-acid wines seem to dry your gums at the same time as well. I really have no idea if ths is related to high acidity or if the wines actually have some tannins that contribute to this effect.

However, your new explanation made me even more confused. I really don't understand how acidity could be perceived as volatile yet not really talk of volatile acidity. Although VA might increase the overall acidity of the wine somewhat, VA and normal acidity are quite distinct from each other and I really don't follow when you mean they could be somewhat confused with each other.

You're not talking about the "amaro" in Amarone now, i.e. the bitterness that is quite typical of these wines? That'd be a thing wholly unrelated to both acidity and volatile acidity.

User avatar
Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 636
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#16 Post by Sh@n A » April 15th, 2019, 7:22 am

Otto, I felt the wine was perceived as more or less acidic at different times of consumption (and no issues with tannins or bitterness). I have limited experience with old wines (over 20 years), so there was a bit ambiguity to my question as to why I perceived the wine this way. The variables I can ascribe to this are (i) air time, (ii) food, and (iii) my own progressive alcohol consumption. I have a second bottle... so if you are come to NY soon we can open it then! Indeed, now I am curious and probably won't wait out my plan to open it exactly 2YRs from now (it is a birth year wine).... or two years from now I'll be drinking it ahead of any festivities and by myself over hours in the pursuit of knowledge.
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 558
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#17 Post by Otto Forsberg » April 16th, 2019, 7:09 am

Sh@n A wrote:
April 15th, 2019, 7:22 am
Otto, I felt the wine was perceived as more or less acidic at different times of consumption (and no issues with tannins or bitterness). I have limited experience with old wines (over 20 years), so there was a bit ambiguity to my question as to why I perceived the wine this way. The variables I can ascribe to this are (i) air time, (ii) food, and (iii) my own progressive alcohol consumption. I have a second bottle... so if you are come to NY soon we can open it then! Indeed, now I am curious and probably won't wait out my plan to open it exactly 2YRs from now (it is a birth year wine).... or two years from now I'll be drinking it ahead of any festivities and by myself over hours in the pursuit of knowledge.
I thank you for the opportunity, but unfortunately I have no plans in visiting the US in at least the next few years, so if you feel the urge to pop the bottle open, do go ahead. Please do report your findings on your 2nd bottle as well!

User avatar
John Kight
Posts: 546
Joined: September 7th, 2009, 5:45 pm

Re: Amarone questions / Decanting

#18 Post by John Kight » April 18th, 2019, 6:06 am

Sh@n A wrote:
April 15th, 2019, 7:22 am
Otto, I felt the wine was perceived as more or less acidic at different times of consumption (and no issues with tannins or bitterness).
I think the better terminology would be "variable" rather than "volatile", as "volatile acidity" is a well-defined concept, so any use of the word "volatile" used in association with the wine's acidity will be interpreted as referring to volatile acidity. If I understand, you're just saying that the acidity of the wine seemed to wax and wane over the course of drinking the wine. As a prior post indicated, it's impossible to know with certainty whether that's the wine, or just your palate and personal perception. Everyone experiencing the way a wine appears to vary of the course of a glass or bottle must struggle with the same question. While we all know that wines tend to change with air time, I strongly suspect that MOST of the variation people perceive has more to do with your palate "adjusting" to the wine, and also changing as you consume different foods, etc. A simplistic example of this is how your first sip of wine (for the day/evening) may seem slightly shocking in its acidity, making your salivary glands react, but subsequent sips don't produce this effect to nearly the same extent.

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”