Amarone is one of the Big Boys of Italian Wine made in the Valpolicella region of Verona. The unique feature of this wine, is that the grapes are picked when they are fully ripe, then left to dry out on special straw mats for a period of 100-120 days.
What does this have to do with Freeman Vineyards in the Hilltops region of NSW. Quite a bit actually! This high altitude, cool climate vineyard was the first vineyard in Australia to plant Rondinella and Corvina, the classic Amarone Valpolicella grape varieties. Freeman Vineyards was established in 1999 by Dr Brian Freeman, previously the Professor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.
He has crafted his Secco into an Amarone inspired, trophy winning wine. In a homage to the wines from Amarone, a selection of both grape varieties (Rondinella and Corvina) are dried in a neighbours solar powered prune dehydrator for 10 days. These dried or decicated grapes are then added to the fresh grapes during the fermentation process. The wine is then aged for 2 years in older barrels, (to mature the wine rather than impart oak flavour) and then 2 years in bottle before release. The 2008 is the 6th vintage of this wine, with many reviewers saying it is the best to date. 94 Points from James Halliday is a pretty good indication of the quality.
This wine MUST BE DECANTED before you even think of drinking. Don’t be fooled by the palish colour, this will need three hours at a minimum. Initially the wine will show raisiny characters, but it then opens into a wine of great complexity and character. You end up with these amazing characters of cherries and fruit cake, framed by toasty oak aromas. It has this amazing silky mouth feel that constantly evolves and changes in the glass. Very impressive indeed Dr Freeman.