A Big But Gentle Amarone
In one of the most famous scenes in “The Silence of The Lambs”, Anthony Hopkins talks about eating the liver of a census taker with fava beans and “a nice Chianti. But in the Thomas Harris novel the movie is based on, the wine chosen by Hannibal Lecter for his cannibalistic banquet was actually an Amarone. The Hollywood producers decided to change it because Amarone was little known and they were afraid that filmgoers wouldn’t understand he was talking about a wine. They were probably right. That was 1991 and, even in Italy, Amarone was very little known outside of the Veneto region where it is produced. In the book Hannibal calls it “A big Amarone”, and that’s an apt description for most Amarones. They are often big powerful wines because they are made with grapes that after the harvest have been left in special drying chambers for up to four months, until January or February. That way a good part of the water evaporates from the berries and the juice contains a much higher level of sugar and of the substances that give the wine body and aromas. The result is a remarkable concentration of aromas and an equally remarkable alcool content. That is also the reason why an Amarone can sometimes feel somewhat overpowering. That’s not the case with this Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Doc - that’s the full denomination - by David Sterza, a small winery with an excellent track record for quality and reliability. With sixteen per cent alcohol by volume, there can be no doubt that it is “big”. But it also shows a somewhat unexpected freshness on the palate, with a complex bouquet in which we detect rich spicy aromas together with a fresh fruitiness. So this is a very robust wine that is also quite gentle. As for food pairings, I really have no idea whether it would go well with plate of human liver - with or without fava beans - but I wouldn’t suggest you try that... Better drink it with something like braised meat, or with an assortment of strong-flavored cheeses. Or, actually, just sip a glass of it - or two - with nothing more than the company of a special person. As far as I’m concerned, that’s actually the way I like it best.