Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta 2014


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“The 2014 is a unique rendition of Dal Forno’s Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta. It’s a remarkably pretty wine, displaying crushed ripe strawberries and plums with cinnamon, clove, vanilla bean and a cooling hint of mint. The textures are velvety, coating all that they touch in glycerol fruit concentration, yet somehow coming across as zesty and spry, contrasting weight with saturating notes of tart blackberry and savory spice. There’s a bit at a lull in the midpalate, yet it hardly takes away from the experience. At times, the Monte Lodoletta can seem almost salty, especially through its long, mouthwatering finish, where hints of cherry pits and herbs linger. This atypical yet truly enjoyable expression is the result of the extremely difficult 2014 vintage, when hail damaged and reduced the crop in the lower-elevation vineyards, followed by rain from August through September. As a result, Dal Forno decided not to produce their Amarone, and to instead focus all of their attention on the Valpolicella. The result is a wine that no Dal Forno fan should miss, but be aware that production was down 30% from an average year. Drinking window: 2022-2034. 94 points

The Val d’Illasi is the furthest valley east of Verona that is permitted to produce Valpolicella and Amarone. It is not part of the original “Classico” growing area, but it is the home of the Dal Forno vineyards and winery. With 26 hectares of vines planted at an average of 270 meters, the Dal Forno family is able to blend the advantages of the alluvial soils in the lower elevations, and the clay-rich soils as their vines move further upslope. The focus here is on the traditional mix of varieties: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Croatina. However, in the winery, Dal Forno depends on a modern approach, with no fear of technology, to create their portfolio of dark, massively intense, seamlessly elegant, yet wonderfully balanced Amarone and Valpolicella. Marco Dal Forno, enologist and second generation, explained that the family had recently acquired another 24 hectares of vineyards, but it intends to experiment with them prior to blending them into the production. His goal is to better understand the unique soil types within Illasi and how each variety acts differently within them, in order to plan for replantings in the future. That said, production quantity was a repeating theme of our conversations, as he also explained to me that hail is becoming more and more frequent. As I mentioned previously, these are modern interpretations of the wines of the region, but don’t let that deter you, because they are also some of the best produced from year to year. Following an extremely strict selection, Corvina grapes for the Amarone undergo three months of air-drying, followed by a first fermentation in stainless steel with automated punch-downs; and then moved into new French oak, where the wine undergoes a slow secondary fermentation that can last up to 18 months. Ultimately, the Amarone spends two years in barrel prior to bottling. It’s also extremely important to take note that even the Valpolicella of Dal Forno spends 45 days air-drying, followed by two years in new oak and three years in bottle. Basically, it’s like drinking many other producers’ Amarone, but it’s labeled Valpolicella.”

Eric Guido, Vinous (02/21)