VENETO - ITALY
Dal Forno produces his two wines in tiny quantities. It takes seven vines to produce a bottle of Valpolicella, and an almighty ten vines to make a single, very special bottle of Amarone. A rigorous selection process and draconian standards make these incredibly concentrated, full bodied wines very hard to come by. The 8ha estate in Illasi can produce 1,500 cases at most, although in most years far fewer are actually released. In 2015, while the quality can be considered among the best ever, harvested volumes were unfortunately among the smallest.
2015 DAL FORNO ROMANO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA
100 pts, James Suckling - “This is black as pitch in the glass and, yes, there’s a light, tarry edge to the super-concentrated prune, date and currant fruit. But even more interesting are the complex notes of bitter-orange liqueur, aged balsamic, fresh roasting herbs, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, black tea and liquorice. The more you decant in advance, the more nuances will emerge. It’s full-boded with huge concentration and lots of chewy tannin that is managing to hold the fruit back for now. This needs plenty of time to develop in the bottle. Just superb. One of the greatest Dal Forno’s ever.”
Dal Forno’s Amarone della Valpolicella is a radical reinvention of one of Italy’s most famous wines. It is impenitent, intoxicating and a provoking wine. Dal Forno uses extremely low yields and an austere selection process admitting only the most exceptional grapes. The global wine market has an insatiable demand for the world’s greatest wines and Dal Forno’s Amarone has been called the ‘Petrus of the Veneto’.
The Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner recently embarked on a retrospective tasting back to the 1990 vintage to assess ageing potential: 'The results were nothing short of stunning... Dal Forno’s greatest wines transcend vintage to bring us an exceptional portrait of one of the world’s most ambitious wines... Michele Dal Forno, one of Romano’s three sons, tells me his family is considering releasing their Amarone ten years after the harvest in order to give the wine even more time to evolve. Indeed, many of the bottles tasted in this retrospective were opened the evening before my visit to the winery. The drinking windows for the newer vintages tasted in this report extend 30 to 50 years.’
2008 DAL FORNO ROMANO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA
98 pts, Antonio Galloni - “The 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella is compelling. With a little air, the tannins begin to soften, releasing a myriad of intense dark aromas and flavors. Bittersweet chocolate, cloves, violets, plums and blackberry jam cover every inch of the palate in a stunning, headspinning Amarone that captures all of the best qualities of the year. When Romano Dal Forno's wines are on, there is nothing quite like them, and that is certainly the case here. If opened young, the 2008 needs a little air. Actually, a lot of air..”
To offset the tiny allocations available for the new 2015 vintage, Dal Forno also released an equal sized parcel of their magnificent 2008 vintage at the same time. Drinking exceptionally well now when given time in a decanter, this will continue to evolve gracefully for decades to come.
2015 DAL FORNO ROMANO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE
96 pts, James Suckling - “Such a profound nose of fresh and dried fruit with blackcurrants, dates and prunes, together with lighter notes of mild spice and pomegranate seeds. The fresher elements provide the drive on the full palate and, together with very fine, bright, fine-grained tannins, give a long, chewy yet fresh and pruney finish. Hugely concentrated, but the balance and poise is impeccable. There’s no denying the classic quality of this. Delicious to taste now, but this needs a few years to integrate. Try from 2025.”
Dal Forno’s Valpolicella Superiore is consistently one of the highest quality reds from the north of Italy, and that is true of this vintage in particular. In fact, Antonio Galloni posits that 'Dal Forno should really change the name of his... Valpolicella Superiore. This is really an Amarone for all practical intents and purposes, since 2002 made entirely from fruit that has been dried, albeit for less time than that legally required for Amarone'. Dal Forno’s Valpolicella Superiore simply offers a chance to own a pseudo-Amarone from the King of Amarone for less than a third of the price! It is hard to express how exceptional this wine is and it should be found in any fine wine lover’s cellar. It is certainly the greatest Valpolicella that we have ever tasted.