Legend has it that Amarone was invented when a winemaker making Recioto forgot all about it once it started fermenting. Rather than stopping the fermentation for a sweet wine, it kept going until all the sugar converted to alcohol. Hence Amarone, the 'big bitter'—a rare, non-sweet passito or 'straw' wine. Rich, ripe, raisiny with a savoury notes, packed full of taste and alcohol (the legal minimum is 14%), it is generally put on the market five years can be aged for 40 years or more—and can cost a fortune. It's been DOC since 1990, and DOCG since 2009.
Also see Ripasso, made in part from the grape skins left after pressing Amarone.
Images by: Don LaVange