Dal Forno Romano is a family-owned and operated estate winery established in 1983 in Val D’Illasi by Romano Dal Forno. Though the winery is relatively new (built in 1990), the Dal Forno family has owned the property where their vineyards sit for four generations and produced wines previously for the majority of that time. The wines since 1983, however, launched the Dal Forno family quickly to prominence with their big, beautiful, and true to variety style. The estate’s vineyards are all traditionally farmed and planted to indigenous varieties of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta, and Croatina, while Romano practices more modern techniques in the cellar. Though Dal Forno typically achieves incredibly high-quality fruit (barring any vintage challenges), they remain wildly rigorous in the selection process come harvest. The fermentation process is designed to extract as much character from the grapes as possible, while aging in oak barriques provides enough backbone to the wines without completely stealing the show.
Today’s Wine: 2013 Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta
70% Corvina and Corvina grossa, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina, and 5% Oseleta; 14.5% ABV
The 2013 Valpolicella Superiore is opaque deep ruby in color and almost black at its core. Given about 90 minutes to open up, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, plum, blackcurrant, cedar spill, violet, smoked meat, cracked pepper, chocolate, and slate. Once in the mouth, this opulent yet elegant wine displays notes of blueberry, blackberry, tart cherry, rich tobacco, scorched earth, tar, chocolate, baking spice, and vanilla. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but velvety tannins, and a long finish.
Price: $100. I think this is well worth its price tag, and Dal Forno Romano provides consistently delicious and high-quality wines across vintages that I’ve tried. This is also my go-to by the glass wine at one of my favorite wine bars here in Los Angeles. Pair with ribeye steak, roasted chicken with fig, or charcuterie and aged cheese.
Tenuta Santa Maria was established by the Bertani Family, a family with deep roots in the Valpolicella region of Veneto. Documents place the family in Valpolicella as early as the mid-1500s, though it was brothers Gaetano and Giovan Battista Bertani during the mid to late 1800s who ventured to create a new standard for their family’s wines. After being exiled to France, Gaetano Bertani returned and brought back an appreciation for the Guyot Method and the brothers practiced it when planting their vineyards with high vine density to reduce yields and create more concentrated fruit. Though Santa Maria follows traditional winemaking methods for the Veneto region passed down through generations of vintners, they also appreciate technological advancement and utilize modern techniques to produce the highest quality wines possible. Today Tenuta Santa Maria is guided by Gaetano Bertani, the great-grandson of founding brother Gaetano, and his sons with utmost respect for their history and fact that they are one of the oldest Italian winemaking families still in operation.
Today’s Wine: 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva
The 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva is medium to deep garnet with ruby hues. I decanted this for around 3 hours which greatly helped the wine blossom, however right out of the bottle this was a beauty. On the nose, I get aromas of cherry liqueur, sweet plum, fig, anise, purple florals, dried leather, crushed rock, cinnamon, and spice. Once in the mouth, this wine displays notes of sweet cherry, boysenberry, prune, licorice, dried rose, tobacco, dried rocky earth, brown sugar, nutmeg, and chocolate. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, velvety medium tannins, and a long finish. It’s amazing how incredibly well-balanced this wine is, particularly given the 16% ABV which you would never guess.
Price: $74. Great QPR on this bottle, especially when compared to Quintarelli or Dal Forno Amarone that sells for $300+ (and more for the Riservas). Now I’m not saying this is the same calibre as Quintarelli or Dal Forno, but its elegance, balance, and quality are enough to make me think of them. Pair this with Wagyu filet mignon, wild boar, or parmigiano reggiano.