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Amarone Abbondanza

February 26, 2010

There’s an echo in Boston and it’s like “ega…ega…ega” . Or rather, well, I mean….there seems to be alot of praise surrounding the terrific wine shop, The Wine Bottega, in the North End and I wouldn’t mind to perpetuate this sonic phenomenom. I’ve been a few times and always spot bottles begging me to buy them. Where else could I expect to find Romorantin, a bounty of less rare varieties of Loire specialty, bottles from Champagne’s avant-garde, more than one bottle of Freisa and countless other temptations. Usually I sulk around a shop with occasional smirks and grimaces.  The Wine Bottega leaves me wide-eyed. There are a few other places that really do it for me and I’ll be sure to write about them soon but when I consider that this place has only been under it’s current management for a little more than a year I must congratulate them on their swift and spectacularly well done job.

Anyways they specialize in Italian wine and man do they specialize because when I go to an event called “Amarone Abbondanza” I might hope, but definitely not expect ,that there be one bottle of Quintarelli. Last night there were two and although there was no Amarone from Quintarelli his Valpolicella and “Rosso Ca’ del Merlo” certainly held their own when followed by nothing but the real thing. The 2001 Villa Erbice Amarone “Vigneto Tremenel” showed the most funk out of all but mostly on the nose; the palate showed lots of soft flavors of spice and dried fruit. A pair of 2003 Amarone, from Nicolis and Bussola, proved to be the most brooding characters of the night, darker fruit and a sort of tarry spiciness in both. The Bussola was bigger and more flamboyant with a voluptuous texture where the Nicolis displayed more elegance and poise. The 2004 Brigaldara Amarone “Case Vecie” was maybe my favorite because aromatically it was so different. In a blind tasting I’d have a very hard time picking this out as a wine made from dried grapes. It was remarkably fresh and pure and smelled like crushed blackberries and blueberries, a myriad of spice and a hint of jasmine. The wine was almost as big as the Bussola but more caressing and with finer tannins and the finish was longer and sweeter. The last Amarone, a 1996 from Musella, had the ‘haunting’ bouquet of the night, just left me searching, roasted nuts and sweet spices with only a little dried fruit smell; it was unreserved and ready to drink now.

I can’t say the name of the event was misleading, because of the abundance of Amarone, but there were a few more non-Amarone wines than not. I loved the 1999 Quintarelli Valpolicella, give it a couple more years and it will surely give the Musella a run for it’s money in the ‘haunting’ and ‘searching’ category; it was super smooth and full of spice and dried fruit. The 1998 Quintarelli “Rosso Ca’ del Merlo” had plenty of stuffing but for me it just didn’t have it’s stuff together the way the Valpolicella did; it had more volatile tack to it which lended to it’s complexity but perhaps not it’s integration. Maybe it just needs some time. The 2007 Brigaldara Valpolicella was might tasty with blueberry,  cherry, herbs and a lush but refreshing mouthful.  Good Valpolicella often reminds me of a nice Beaujolais Villages, they both are very versatile red wines if you don’t mind some acidity. A late harvest Sauvignon from the Soave area was also poured, the 2006 Inama “Vulcaia Apres” Vino Dolce, it’s expression of citrus, apricots and mangoes puts so many pricy Sauternes to shame. There was not much spicy botrytis but many Sauternes lack that as well and don’t have the balance of sweet fruit and acidity that this wine has. Also notable was the 2007 Nino Negri “Ca’ Brione” which might be described as a hypothetical blend of Pouilly-Fuisse and Alsace Riesling , or you might just say it is its own tasty barrel-fermented thing.

I didn’t talk about all the wines at the Amarone Abbondanza. I’m neglecting the wonderful Sfursats, the brawny Bussola Ripasso and a few others but I don’t want to go overboard with tasting notes here. I just want to recommend The Wine Bottega’s events wholeheartedly. They do a great job with a theme, at the Abbondanza there was a little of everything. Simple everyday wines next to meditative wines to be shared with rare moments and many in between. There were young, old and still evolving wines as well at modern, traditional and truly singular styles of wine. Plus the two guys pouring the wines were fonts of information and completely amenable to my questions and random interjections. Maybe they just threw it all together, I dunno, but to me it seemed to be very thoughtfully orchestrated and I greatly appreciated it. Also they only charged ten bucks for it all, yup $10. Price of admission practically inconsequential. But I wasn’t the only one who knew what was up because the place was packed that night and people had a properly zealous gleam that I could relate to completely.

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