“Senza tentazioni, senza onore.” (“Where there is no temptation, there is no honor.”)
What is it that makes a good wine, or for that matter, a wine good? Wines can go by reputation or price. They are characterized by region and by country. They win medals in world wide competitions. They are white, red or rose’. Dry, sweet, acidic, with legs and I can go on and on. But what is it that makes a wine a good wine.The answer is taste. Taste, taste and only taste. No matter any of the foregoing, if you don’t like it, it is no good. And an excellent case in point is this wine, Amicone.
Now, if you look at the label, it speaks volumes in itself. Four, count ‘em, FOUR International awards. Impressive? Sure. But what is inside? First though, a little background.
Veneto is a northern region in Italy which is known for wine production. This region can boast of producing some of the finest wines in the world in any price range. It is sort of a given that the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) designation wines are most often based on the pinot grigio, garganera and corvina grapes which are indigenous to the area. But since the rules are so liberal, many excellent blends are also produced, most notably the bordeaux variety which includes merlo, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc. Geographically, wines from this region tend to include some of the Germanic-Slavic tradition which melds nicely with the warmer, drier Roman regions to the south. Now, it is worth noting that even though this region is smaller than other wine producing regions like Tuscany and Piedmont, it does produce more vintage wines than any other region of the “Boot.”
SCHENK Italia, a Switzerland based wine group is the producer of this wine. Founded in 1952 with the focus on producing fine bulk wines, it now covers every aspect of the wine trade from vineyard management to production to distribution. Its winery is located in Ora, a province of Bolzano in northern Italy, not coincidentally near the Swiss border. Amicone is actually classed as a “Rare red blend” which simply means that it is made from a rare or rarely used variety of grapes. This is a designation that comes in very handy in Italy because of the wide variety of not so well known grapes. These wines are complex, a veritable feast and an adventure for all the senses.
Amicone Rosso Veneto is truly an exceptional wine. Now, as I stated above, the label itself boasts only some of the awards it has won in competitions. But the test, the absolute, truest test is the taste. Specifically, your taste. After a pretty lengthy aeration in the bottle, I did not use a decanter this time, the wine poured and showed purplish hue which reflected the light beautifully. After a short toast and a brief stopover in the glass, the aroma was detectable and very distinct with essences of dark cherries, tobacco and a hint of earthiness. A slight nod also to chocolate and oak, but a little on the lighter side than say a chianti. We noticed the strong legs at once. The ultimate test, the first sip was totally satisfying. A deep, intense flavor, almost unexpected because of the color in the glass, that lasted on the palate while at the same time was rather refreshing. Clean and dry, this wine I found to be an exceptional discovery.
We served this wine to some friends with only some very light appetizers, soppressata, prosciutto and other charcuterie, and it paired very well with these. Nothing goes better with wine than cheese, but this really calls for something substantial like a chunk of good parmesan or aged swiss. I think that something like a softer goat cheese would be lost with this wine. As for a dinner, I would say try it with a good braciole, sausages (preferably without fennel if you can find it) or even roast turkey.
You know, one of the things that can draw you to a wine, or anything else for that matter is the label, the packaging. These days we are so subjected to nonsense and hype that it is hard to tell a good product from something of less quality because everything is described in the superlative. This is one of those rare cases though, where the product equals or even exceeds the hype. My guests and I enjoyed it and I will look for it again, which is high praise in itself.
Alcohol – 14%
Price – about $17
My personal rating – 9.2 out of an impossible to attain 10 grapes.