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who established Amarone as a world-class wine. Today, his estate is run by his grandchildren. Production is tiny (roughly 5,000 cases annually), the wine is very hard to find, and prices are stratospheric—beginning around $300 and reaching $1,000 per bottle in a top vintage. Bertani was one of the first estates to sell Amarone in this country, beginning in the 1950s. Its approach is extremely traditional, with the wine remaining in cask for a minimum of six years and re-fermenting every spring. Prices hover in the $100 range, even for recent excellent vintages such as 2004 and 2006. Of the three top estates, Masi presents the most appealing profile for the consumer: Quality is extremely high, prices are reasonable, and the wine is readily available in retail stores as well as online. The Boscaini family purchased its first vineyard in 1772 and has been making wine ever since. Beginning in 1973 they collaborated with the Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante, to manage the most celebrated estate in the region. I recently revisited a trio of Masi Amarone and found each to be exceptional in its own way. The workhorse of the portfolio is Costasera, made from four selected vineyard

sites overlooking Lake Garda. The nose of the 2010 ($50) reveals scents of savory herbs, anise, and mint; flavors of spiced plums and black cherries linger on the palate, along with an herbal edge on the finish. The 2008 Costasera Riserva ($70) offers whiffs of mushrooms, minerals, and black fruits on the nose. In the mouth, it is even more seamless and balanced than the regular bottling, filled with flavors of plums and blackberries—an absolute pleasure to drink. The Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron 2007 ($75) is the most forceful of the three. Aromas of black plums, prunes, and walnuts soar from the glass. The wine is full-bodied and edgy, filled with pepper-tinged flavors of ripe black fruits and underlined with good acidity. «

A word on food pairing: Because Amarone is a powerful red from the northern Veneto region, look to the local dishes for the perfect entrée match; think slow-roasted meats, stews, and wild game. It also makes the perfect accompaniment to a platter of strong cheeses to conclude a meal.

By Howard walker Palm Beach Illustrated’s Automotive Editor

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