Coati Bruno Crosara de le Strie Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2003
Yes, this $40 wine has an exceedingly long name, but it all fits together once you look at the
constituent parts. Bruno Coati is the patriarch of the family that makes the wine in the Veneto
region of Northeastern Italy. “Crosara de le Strie” is the vineyard. And the wine, of course, is
the inimitable Amarone from the Classico delimitation of Valpolicella.
Amarone differs markedly from the medium-bodied Valpolicella we've come to know, though both wines use the Corvino grape in blends with Rondinella and Molinara. The key to Amarone is the difficult work of drying the grapes before fermenting, a process that may take many months. Unlike most dried grape wines, including its cousin, the sweet red Recioto della Valpolicella, Amarone is fermented to dryness, itself a problematic exercise when dealing with grapes that have such a high initial sugar content. When it all works, you get a wine with tremendous body, aging potential, and some hefty alcohol to boot (the Coati Bruno lists as 15.5%).
This wine is a medium, purplish ruby, with a nose of ripe blackcurrant, dried wild mushroom,
cigar box, chocolate, and toast and flavor notes of blackcurrant, red cherry, dried apricot,
cedar, tobacco, hazelnut, chocolate, and the combination I call “vanilla cinnamon toast.” I
know that sounds like a lot, but this is a whole lot of wine, and the finish has a satisfying
slope. With all that is going on, I should advise that the alcohol has a way of sneaking up on
you, as it doesn't warn you with heat as do many other high alcohol wines. This is a wine
you can age for more than ten years, if you can stand to wait, a perfect complement for wild
game, steaks or the most robust of foods, and yet a special treat all on its own.
Italy never ceases to impress me: the wines, the food, the energy.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman