Dal Forno Romano Meet its Match

Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella, 2003

I had been saving this wine for a special occasion- this is expensive stuff- definitely not “everyday wine” in the Karapetian household.  Dal Forno Romano is one of those mythic Italian wine producers who makes magic on his tiny 30 acre estate in the Valpolicella.  We had a family dinner at Marche Moderne the other night, and it just felt like the right time to break out the big guns.

I have sampled Dal Forno wines before- my memory is rusty- this was 5 years ago at a trade tasting event.  I remember the wines being VERY big and VERY modern- basically the complete opposite of your favorite Lambrusco.  It was with this in mind that I ordered the short ribs… basically the richest, most succulent plate of braised beef you could imagine.  Chef Florent Marneau truly delivers warm, cozy comfort with this dish- beautifully presented and steaming hot.

The wine was deep purple- black and viscous in the glass.  Unlike most Valpolicellas, Dal Forno uses 100% dried grapes (much like its older brother, Amarone), which contributes to its luscious mouthfeel.  The wine is also aged in small barrique for 36 months before being bottled and held at the winery for an additional year- talk about labor intensive investments!  I was honestly surprised at how well-integrated the oak seemed to be- there are no toasty sharp edges or lingering bitter notes.  The wine is large, heavily laced with black plums and blueberry pie.  There is no shortage of sticky cassis and warm vanilla aromas here.

Although it matched well with the demi-glace and rich buttery texture of the short ribs, this is also a wine I would love to enjoy by itself- the better to contemplate Dal Forno’s sheer dedication.  By the time the grapes of one vintage are picked, it is at least 4 years before the corresponding wine is ready.  Is this not the very definition of one winemaker’s devotion to their craft?