About this WINE
Romano Dal Forno
Romano Dal Forno is a local legend. "The rest of us take vacations, occasionally play a round of golf in the afternoons,' said a major Veneto- wine producer, 'But not Dal Forno. He works every day. He not only knows every bunch in his vineyards - he knows every grape!"
Romano Dal Forno only established his estate in the 1980s but in Nicolas Belfrage's words "has climbed to the maximum heights which Valpolicella, Classico or otherwise, is capable of attending." Romano is the undisputed leader of the new wave in Verona's winemaking although his small estate is to be found outside the so-called Zona Classica for Valpolicella, at Illasi. From 8 hectares of vineyard this vigneron-winemaker gets the best out of the Corvina and Rondinella varieties with small yields and rigorous selection during the harvesting.
The house speciality is Amarone, but he makes Valpolicella with the same care as well. Fermentation and maceration are designed to extract maximum varietal character from the grapes. Dal Forno has adopted the use of barriques and has been working on ways to ferment the sugars completely out in wood, as if the wine were white. This style of vinification gives the oak a decisive role in the ageing process, without letting it dominate completely. Romano is also experimenting with an ultra-traditional red Recioto and a tiny parcel of fabulous white "passito" wine.
Valpollicella is a famous (and infamous) Venetian wine DOC north of Verona producing enormous amounts of red wine of variable quality and accounting for almost 7% of the Veneto's entire production.
Valpolicella Classico covers the original zone, an area drastically enlarged with the granting of DOC status in 1968 (energetically encouraged by the large, local co-operatives) to encompass the fertile plains as well as the superior Lessini Mountain foothills. After opening the floodgates to gallons of poor quality Valpolicella, steps have more recently been taken to redress the quality issue, notably through the removal of Molinara from the list of permissible grape varieties. Only Corvina Veronese and Corvinone can now be used, along with a small percentage of Rondinella and Croatina.
The wines are aged in large oak vessels or stainless-steel vats for no more than a year, thus retaining the fresh, approachable, black cherry fruit that can make them so attractive. While Valpolicella (and even Classico) may be light and relatively simple, Valpolicella Ripasso is altogether richer and more satisfying. Matured on Amarone lees, it begins like a slightly less full-bodied version of Amarone before finishing on a sweet, Recioto-like note.
Valpolicella Ripasso is an increasingly popular style of Valpolicella that is produced by passing Valpolicella ‘normale’ or Classico over the still warm Amarone grape pomace in early spring after the Amarone wine has been run off. This effects a second alcoholic fermentation in the Valpolicella and gives the resulting wine more body, texture and alcohol.
Corvina, Corvinone blend
Corvina is widely grown on the Veneto shore of Lake Garda and the hills of Valpolicella to the north and north-east of Verona. Sometimes known as Corvina Veronese, it is blended with Rondinella and Molinara to produce Valpolicella and Bardolino. It can be a tricky grape to cultivate, as it ripens late and is prone to rot if affected by rains at harvest time. It is a high-yielding grape and quality is very dependent on keeping yields low.
Corvina-based red wines can range in style from a light, cherryish red to the rich, port-like Recioto and Amarone Valpolicellas. Most Valpolicella from the plains is pale and insipid, and bears little comparison with Valpolicella Classico from the hills. Some producers such as Allegrini are now producing very high quality 100% Corvina wines.