Amarone is arguably the richest, densest and most powerful wine in the world, a veritable show stopper and without rival. Furthermore, Romano Dal Forno is known as Veneto’s ‘Grape King’, the vanguard of modern Amarone. As such, we are delighted to offer the new releases of Dal Forno’s Amarone della Valpolicella and Valpolicella Superiore 2011. These wines have scored 95 and 94 points respectively from James Suckling, offering collectors superb quality in yet another lovely vintage.
Dal Forno’s Amarone is a radical reinvention of one of Italy’s most famous wines. It is impenitent, intoxicating and a provoking wine. Dal Forno uses very low yields and an austere selection process admitting only the most exceptional grapes. The 2011 displays classic notes of chocolate, dark berries and lavender and it has a long life ahead of it. The global wine market has an insatiable demand for the world’s greatest wines and Dal Forno’s Amarone is the Petrus of the Veneto. Given tiny production quantities, older vintages are hard to find, resulting in a vintage premium; the equal scoring 95-point 2000 trades at £1,600 per case of six bottles.
Dal Forno’s Valpolicella Superiore is consistently one of the best value reds from the north of Italy, which 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 under £50 per bottle. 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.
There is such pride in the Dal Forno staple that if the vintage is not up to the highest standard then it is declassified, most recently in 2007. 2011 was blessed with a hot and dry summer ideal for these rich, ripe wines. Romano’s son, Michele dal Forno states, ‘we’re confident the wines made in 2011 will represent a milestone for many years to go.’ Both wines are made 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. Michele Dal Forno’s rigorous selection and draconian standards make these incredibly concentrated, full wines very hard to come by; at most 1,500 cases are made in one year.
A History of Romano Dal Forno
Romano Dal Forno was born in 1957, a few Kilometres away from Illais, where his family had been making wine for three generations. Aged 22 he met the grand master of Amarone, Giuseppe Quintarelli and their acquaintance became seminal for Dal Forno. Quintarelli exposed Dal Forno to what could be achieved with the vines in the region of Valpolicella, yet from this incredible base Dal Forno created a synthesis of winemaking, in many ways the antithesis of Quintarelli’s traditional style, unrelenting, ascetically driven and as many believe the ultimate mien of Amarone.
In 1990 Dal Forno abandoned traditional ageing in Slovenian oak, instead ageing in 225 litre French oak barrique; thereby bringing a Grand Cru claret style to the wine. He also experiments with the passito method and the general ageing rules, releasing the wines after a five year combined period in barrique and bottle. Dal Forno rejected the Molinara grape, replacing it with Oseleta, which he felt enhanced the wines’ colour and provides finely tuned acidity.
There is much debate over whether Dal Forno or Quintarelli is the greatest of all. Quintarelli embodies the more rustic, ascetic and traditional style, while Dal Forno exemplifies hedonism, unqualifiable power and boldness. Both make superlative cellar wines, existing in their dually fashioned binary class, yet Dal Forno must be venerated for changing the paradigm of classic Amarone’s perceived pre-eminence over the contemporary.
Romano Dal Forno Amarone Della Valpolicella 2011, 6×75 – £1,025 IB, 95 Points, James Suckling
Very dark fruits on the nose with hints of bark and dried flowers. Full body, soft and silky tannins with a chewy finish. Loads of dark chocolate and berry. Flavorful and balanced. Drink now.
Romano Dal Forno Valpolicella Superiore 2011, 6×75 – £295 IB, 94 Points, James Suckling
A powerful and dense red with so much concentration of fruit and chocolate undertones. Hints of toasted oak. Full body and a velvety texture. Fantastic and dense red as usual. Drink now.
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