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Dal Forno

Joe H

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I was at the winery on Friday. For those who take an interest in this there are several points:

1. He believes his 2004 amarone has the potential to be his greatest ever.

2. Starting with his 2002 Valpolicella he is drying the grapes for 3 months (as he does for longer with the amarone). He did some of this with the 2001 as a test. The result is even greater concentration and a Valpolicella that is the best I have ever tasted.

3. I believe the 2000 amarone was outstanding, the 2001 a step or two below (as was the '99 and as I expect the '03 to be). His 2002 is outstanding also, I believe equal to his '96 and '97.

4. He expects to increase production by 50% as his expansion at his winery continues into its sixth year. Problems with construction continue to hinder and prolong this.

As horribly expensive as his wine is the best price is in stores immediately near Illasi, his home. The difference in cost is considerable. Valpolicella is Euro 50 there while it is 50% more in, say, Florence or Rome. For comparison, Tenuta Sant 'Antonio La Bandina (which I have raved about) is Euro 18 near Verona.

The tre bicchieri 2000 Sant Antonio Campo dei Gigli has a fantastic nose and is an outstanding amarone, almost a bargain for its excellence. Although about the same price I still prefer the 2002 Dal Forno Valpolicella to even the Campo dei Gigli amarone. This is an incredible wine.

I am also convinced that his wine is better in Italy, near Verona, than it is in the U. S. Shipping seems to take something of a toll. Anyone going to Italy should seek out his wine (about Euro 70 in several restaurants for the Valpolicella with the 2000 available). An incredible experience. For me, his amarone which is about Euro 220-225 in restaurants ('99 and '00) and Euro 150 (in enotecas) near Illasi, in several years has been the finest red wine I have ever tasted. (Note: the "famous" wine shop in Verona is more expensive than others.)

Last, Dal Forno's 2003 Recioto is expected to be not just his but the greatest sweet red dessert wine (from anyone) ever.

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I just had the opportunity to have a glass of his 93 Amarone. 93 was not a great year adn if you looked at the wine from a strictly technical point of view (body, intensity of fruit, structural elements), it might be hard to fathom what makes this wine so great. But the finish went on for minutes and the wine just brought a smile to your face. In fact, after completing the glass, the world looked like a slightly better place. I personally have some 96 and 07 valpol left and my Amarone collection starts with 99. At the restaurant we have 99 on. These are insanely good wines, though expensive, they are amazing.

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Dean, starting with about '95 he almost doubled the concentration of his amarone. (Almost doubled the price, too!!!!!!!!) Honestly, I am comparing his '02 VALPOLICELLA to the '00 Sant Antonio Campo dei Gigli (tre bicchieri) and stating that I actually prefer the Dal Forno Valpolicella to the tre bicchieri amarone. But his '02 represents the first time he has completely begun drying the grapes for the Valpolicella resulting in a Dal Forno amarone like fullness (unctuous?) and complexity. It's also about the same price.

It would be interesting to open a bottle of the '02 Dal Forno Valpolicella alongside of a bottle of '00 Sergio Zenato amarone.

I have one bottle left of his '97 Valpolicella which we'll drink this Christmas. I must tell you his '02 Valpolicella is going to be very difficult to get. I have six bottles of it but there will be a lot of competition for it. The amarone is incredible, too, at least equal to the '00 and similarly highly allocated.

The best wine I have ever tasted in my life is his '97 amarone from a magnum that I bought from him and hand carried back. If you can get a bottle of this, do it. He just released it about six months ago to the public; I bought the magnum last December.

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