Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Oregon Amarone v. Amarone della Valpolicella

The Giro d'Italia started this weekend in Denmark.  The racers hit Italian soil in Verona on Wednesday May 9th for a Team Time Trial.  The Team Time Trial is a relatively unique event that does not occur in very many races.  The Giro d'Italia is one stage race that seems to offer up this unique race on a consistent basis.

Just like the Team Time Trial, Amarone is a unique style of wine that you do not find in very many places.  Verona, in the Veneto region, is one place that has focused on making this intense style of red wine.

This week the Lucha Vino challenge features an Italian original facing off against an Oregon new comer made from Columbia Valley grapes.

2008 Tre Nova Seccopassa v. 2007 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella

Tale of the Tape

2008 Tre Nova Seccopassa

71% Sangiovese and 29% Barbera from the Ciel du Cheval and Coyote Canyon vineyards of the Columbia Valley AVA

Picked and then dried for three months prior to crush and fermentation.  Then aged in 1-3 year old oak barrels.

Link to Tech Sheet

Purchased from for

Corvina and Corvinone 75%, Rondinella 20%, Oseleta 5%

Aged in three different sizes of oak barrels, each for a different length of time:
  • 350 L Barrels for 8 months
  • 500 L Barrels for 10 months
  • 3300 L Barrels for 6 months
Sample provided by Vinum Wine Importing.  Can be found at retail for $44.00.

Round 1. First Opening.

Tre Nova, the young challenger from Oregon, boldly swoops into the ring with loads of confidence and a nose that is full of rich dark fruit, black cherry, dusty brambles and leather.  The palate is also bold and brash with dark cherry, hints of tart sour cranberry, black tea and a sweet red berry finish.

Musella seems to be slightly amused by this challenger's confidence.  Side stepping and then cold cocking the Oregon challenger, Musella wastes little time establishing the pecking order.  The nose is full of dark lush fruit, coffee and tar.  The palate features dark berries, coffee and espresso bean that lingers on to the finish.

Tre Nova came into the ring like a whirl wind.  The fire was quickly snuffed out by the power of the Amarone from Verona.  Score round one for the Italian.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

After picking itself up from the canvas, the Tre Nova is back for more and isn't showing any signs of backing down.  The nose has taken on more character of pie and bing cherries mixed together with light semi sweet chocolate, spices and coffee bean notes.  The palate is bulking up with black cherry and clove spices that linger to a cedar spiced slightly tart finish.

Once again the Musella scoffs at the brash challenger.  Leaping from the top rope the Musella delivers a wicked atomic elbow drop full of evil intent.  This Amarone from Verona ain't fooling around with a dark nose featuring roasted coffee intermingled with roasted meat and notes of tar.  The palate is beefing up, like a wrestler hitting steroids, with dark toasty fruit and nice tart espresso bean on the palate and finish.

The Tre Nova is mounting a serious attack, but the Musella is one bad mofo.  Round two goes to the Amarone from Verona again.

Round 3.  One day after Opening

It's last gasp time for the Tre Nova.  Can the Oregon challenger find a strategy that will take down the more muscular Amarone from Verona?

The Tre Nova starts the third round with a sweeping leg kick trying to get nimble and confuse the Italian.  The nose is showing dusty red fruit while the palate is building slightly with dark red fruit, clove, menthol and a slightly spicy finish.

The Musella has some serious stamina for such a big Luchador.  The nose is showing black fruit, smoked meat and coffee along with some dusty spices.  The palate is equally intimidating with dark fruit, smoked meat and cedar spices that linger on to a  tart spicy espresso bean finish.

Cudos for the Tre Nova for lasting all three rounds and adjusting along the way.  Unfortunately, it was no real match for the powerful Amarone from Verona.  The final round goes to Musella.

Wrap up and over all observations

This was a fun match.  The Amarone style of red wine is truly unique in the way it is made and the characters displayed by the wine.  The Musella comes from the traditional region of Italy that has focused on making the Amarone style of wine for ages.  This longevity showed through in the character of the wine.

The Tre Nova is a youngster in comparison.  A new world fusion of Oregon wine making with Washington grapes.

I liked both of these wines and would give the Tre Nova an 88 and the Musella an 89.

One final note, to learn more about the Giro d'Italia and Italian wine be sure to check out Peleton magazine this month.  Especially the article from Lucha Vino's good friend Clive from the NW Wine Anthem.

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