Zeni Amarone della Valpolicella docg Classico 2013

Amarone blends deserve their place among the Great Big Reds. We enjoyed this one very much.

For those who haven’t come across amarone: it’s a north Italian blend of light red grapes, but they dry the grapes before fermenting (!!?). It’s wine made from raisins, so a lot of the water is gone but the sugar remains. This gives them high alcohol, 15% in this case, but frequently even more.


At 15% ABV, this is a big wine, with lots of flavor.


Oddly, to me this had the flavor of light red wines: fruity, with much more acidity than tannin. With the body from the alcohol level, it felt like our kind of wine.

Zeni’s website calls the bouquet “vibrant and fruity, with hints of well-ripened fruit and spices.” That seems right.


Amarone is usually rather expensive. This one from Zeni is around $30, but it’s easy to pay much more, and it seems unlikely that there are $10 wines made this way.

The blend here is 60% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara. These are not among the Great Big Reds — until you shrivel them up.

Description at Zeni.it.

At Wine-searcher

Extra tip: “Ripasso”! After making amarone with the dried grapes, the wine makers take the left-over raisin-y mass and add it to another batch of light wine, ferment it all again, and wind up with a cheaper wine called “Ripasso” that has significantly more flavor and body than you would typically get from a north Italian wine. At an Italian restaurant, I always check for ripasso.

Valpolicella is a region in northern Italy. According to Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible, it means “valley of many wine cellars”. Ah! Nice to know you can get Great Big Reds there.