Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Ripasso 2005

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Dal Forno is one of those names that immediately produces excitement but also a sense of extreme exclusivity. These wines, from the protege of the recently deceased Giuseppe Quintarelli, are both made in very tiny quantities and generally cost a fortune. How lucky I was, then, to find a seemingly mispriced bottle in San Francisco. It was time to put the hype to the test.

On the Ripasso Method

In drinking wines like these you have to remember that the Ripasso method is unlike much of anything else when it comes to making dry wines. The juice of the grapes sits on their raisinated skins for a period of time in order to provide additional extract and intensity. This technique means that these wines are generally much bigger and more alcoholic than other dry reds.

In my opinion most Valpol Ripassos and Amarones are usually uninteresting wines for the price. They are generally over-extracted and aggressive. The best can age forever and it is true that very old wines from producers like Bertani and Quintarelli are completely different from the norm, offering far more elegance. These wines nonetheless often bear resemblance to port in their pruney fruit and leather stewed compote flavours. But here we have something different.

Dal Forno Loves Oak

The Dal Forno does not shy away from extreme extraction and high alcohol. In fact, the alcohol is so high that it is reasonably astringent at this point in its development. The oak is also quite overt making this an extremely aggressive wine.

However, the fruit here is very much unlike most Ripasso method wines I’ve tasted, being much fresher and peppier than I would have expected. I suppose this is needed given the extremities of oak in this wine, but in any case if you enjoy extract and oak but do not generally like the stewed fruit flavours, this is a wine to check out. I would be curious to see if this calmed down with 5 more years in the cellar, though I’m not sure the Oak will ever be shy or subtle here. I also worry about the high alcohol drying out the fruit with too much age – but I do not have enough experience with this wine to say for sure.

In summary, this is a good wine, but not necessarily my style. I also can’t fathom the usual price.

Very Good
$45 at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant (~$250 CDN at Kits Wine)

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