Back in the mid-1980s, even the most diehard optimist could never have imagined that less than 25 years later, Amarone della Valpolicella would have emerged as one of the trendiest wines on the Italian wine scene. Or that the Valpolicella zone would have shaken itself free from its state of semi-crisis and emerged from its provincial viticultural doldrums. Production of Amarone (and Recioto) rose from 1.5 million bottles in 1997 to almost 5 million in 2003 and 5.7 million in 2004. Estimates for the 2006 vintage are in the 8 million range, and for 2007 the estimated figure is in excess of 10 million bottles. Huge numbers of grapes have been put onto drying mats: the 8.2 million kilograms dried in 1997 had risen to a whopping 25.7 million just 10 years later. Those semi-dried grapes are a very large chunk of the 70 million kilos of grapes produced overall in Valpolicella. Far too many, in the eyes of some.
The February 2009 issue of Decanter includes an “Italy” supplement, featuring articles on 2004 Barolo by Tom Maresca and Campanian whites by VinoWire contributor Tom Hyland.