Quintarelli VS Dal Forno Amarone Wine Tasting

Friday, October 1, 2021 - 07:30 PM

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Wine hath drowned more men than the sea.



And if I drowned in wine, I can think of none better than Amarone!!


This is annual event here at the Wine Watch. We show the wines of these two producers every year at a "Once in a Lifetime" tasting event and then every other year we show them against each other.   

The styles are dramatically different between Dal Forno and Quintarelli but they both make Amarone at the top level of quality and both sacrifice quantity over quality.  They are also very expensive but the price reflects the demand for these wines in the marketplace.

Dal Forno is a bit more progressive thinking aging his wines in new French Oak and making a dryer style of Amarone by not drying the grapes for as long as Quintarelli.

Although Giuseppe Quintarelli passed away last year his wines will forever be iconic examples of this ancient style of making wine by drying the grapes before fermenting.  These wines are incredibly rare and to be opening up 6 bottles on one evening categorizes this evening as a "once in a lifetime" experience.

Join us as we experience some of the top vintages for this region and some of the most sought-after wines from the Veneto in an all out battle over who's wine reigns supreme- the godfather of Verona, Giuseppe Quintarelli or the new kid on the block, Romano Dal Forno.

Toni Lampasone will be making a special menu to accompany the wines. The fee for this "Once in a Lifetime" wine tasting event is $495 + tax for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com



Quintarelli VS Dal Forno Amarone Wine Tasting
Friday, October 1st
7:30 pm

2017 Quintarelli Primofiore IGT

1991 Quintarelli Alzero
1993 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
1998 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
2006 Dal Forno Amarone Della Valpolicella
2008 Dal Forno Amarone Della Valpolicella
2009 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
2011 Dal Forno Romano Amarone della Valpolicella
2012 Quintarelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico


2004 Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella
2004 Dal Forno Romano Vigna Sere (375ml)
2007 Quintarelli Amabile de Cere Bandito Passito Bianco (375 ml)



Selection of Cheese: St. Andre, Blue Cheese, Beemster Gouda
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Sauteed with Cherry Reduction and wilted Greens
Amarone Risotto with Reggiano Parmesan
Braised Beef Shortrib with Amarone Mole reduction
Cheesecake with Amarena Cherries and Recioto reduction


The price for this tasting which includes dinner is $495 + tax for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail:  andy@winewatch.com.  Please let us know when you make your reservations if you have any dietary restrictions and chef Toni will be happy to accommodate you. 



A bit about Giuseppe Quintarelli - The Godfather of the Veneto



Known as “The Master of the Veneto,” Giuseppe Quintarelli makes some of the world’s most sought-after wines. From aperitifs to digestifs, his limited production Amarones, Reciotos, and Valpolicellas are the benchmark for excellence. Their greatness stems from the inherent quality of the terroir and natural talent of this master, whose concept of vintage approval and strict grape selection rival great Chateau of Sauternes.  Quintarelli makes stunning wines in average vintages by hand picking everything and making severe selections- sometimes going cluster by cluster and selecting each individual berry!

Giuseppe puts his wines on the market when he deems them ready, often keeping them in the cellar for decades until the right moment arrives.  Quintarelli Produces around 2,500 cases of Valpolicella, 850 cases of Amarone and 300 cases of Recioto.  Valpolicella is a terroir with a long history.  It has weathered difficult times and has now been saved by the commitment of a large number of young producers, and the example of a great one, Guiseppe Quintarelli.  Giuseppe’s winery, situated at Negrar on the gentile Valpolicella hills, has 12 hectares of vineyards at an average altitude of 240 meters above sea level.  Some of the grapes are brought in bringing the average annual production up to 50-60,000 bottles.  In the best years, Giuseppe Quintarelli makes an Amarone Riserva, and of course 1990 was no exception.  Before release, this seriously good wine spent ten years ageing in Slavonian oak barrels.  The deep garnet hue is appealing and there are sweet cocoa powder and ripe berry fruit on the nose.  The palate is generous with plums, fruit liqueur and coffee in a harmonious, lingering profile.  The Alzero, made from raisined Cabernet Franc grapes is deep ruby red and proffers aromas of red peppers, vegetables and tobacco on the nose.  The palate has remarkable finesse and hints of cocoa, morello cherries, pepper and pencil lead create a very stylish, bitter-sweet effect.  The fresh-tasting nicely rounded Valpolicella has hints of aromatic herbs, cherry fruit and liquorice, as well as good extract.

According to archaeological evidence vines were growing in the Valpolicella area some 40 million years ago, but winemaking probably came about around the 5th century BC somewhere that is now referred to as Fumane, the home of one of the most famous Amarone producers, Allegrini.  This wine was referred to as Retico and came from the county of Catullus, Verona.  Late in the Roman period the name Retico changed to Acinatico.    Cassiodoro, a famous Italian minister to the Ostrogoth king Theodoric, has been quoted making reference to Acinato:  “It has a pure and exceptional taste and a regal color, so that you may believe either that purple got its colour from the wine or that the wine is the epitome of purple.  Its sweetness is of incredible gentleness, its density is accompanied by an indescribable stability and it swells over the tongue in such a way that it seems either a liquid made of solid flesh or else a drink to be eaten.”

Valpolicella, according to some accounts, means “valley of many cellars,” which seems fitting.  It is derived, they say, from the Greek word poli (many) and the Latin cella (cellar).   This area is approximately 27 miles long and 5 miles wide, it passes north and west of Verona, extending from the Adige River to the Cazzano Valley.  Bardolino and Lake Garda lie to the west and Soave to the east.  The land ranges in altitude from 490 to 1,475 feet above sea level.  The vines in the classico district to the northwest of Verona, are planted on the hillsides and mountain slopes of the valleys of the Adige tributaries and the Fumane, Marano, and Negrar torrents.  Some of the vineyards are terraced with stone.  The cretaceous, calcareous soil is of glacial origins.  And volcanic activity in this area contributed elements to the soil as well.  

The area around Sant’Ambrogio is considered the heart of the Amarone production zone.  Within this area, northeast of Gargagnago, is a valley called Vaio Armaron, which may have given the wine its name.   The blend of grapes typically used in Valpolicella is Corvina (40%-70%), Rondinella (20%-40%), Molinara (5%-25%) and may contain up to 15% Negrara Trentina, Rossignola, Dindarella, Barbera, and/or Sangiovese.  Before 1989 producers were allowed to add as much as 15% of grapes, must, or wine from outside the zone to correct problems from a weak vintage, but this practice is prohibited today.  Corvina contributes color, body, bouquet, flavor, and the basic Valpolicella character to the wine.   Rondinella, which is resistant to disease and rot, is added for its color and strength, tannin and vigor, it also adds some refinement to the azromas.  Molinara, or Mulinara, is also known as Rossara Veronese and Rossanella, is blended in to make the wine lighter and more drinkable.  It also contributes dryness and acidity, as well as that characteristic bitterness.  Negrara, adds softness, freshness and early drinkability.

The first dry Amarone, according to writer Cesare Marchi, was the result of a fortunate accident.  In the early 1950s, Adelino Lucchese, Bertani’s cellarmaster, discovered a barrel of wine in the cellar that had been overlooked and neglected for some time.  Certain that it had spoiled he was about to discard its contents, when curiosity prompted him to take a taste just to see what had happened.  He was astonished to discover that the forgotten wine had a velvety texture and a penetrating perfume, a slightly bitter taste, but not at all unpleasant.  There is however evidence that the Romans made a type of bitter Recioto for diabetics or other people who couldn’t take sugar.  Sandro Boscaini of Masi pointed out that some of the oldest families in Valpolicella, the Count Campostrini and Count Serego Alighieri, as well as his own produced an Amaro, a dry Recioto.  This would seem to indicate that Amarone is considerably older that Marchi admits.  According to another book called Valpolicella Spolendida Contea Dei Vino, written by Lamberto Paronetto, the name Amarone has been in use since the eighteenth century.  It became popular at the beginning of this century and the name could very well be derived from the Italian word amaro, meaning “bitter” (scholar Scipione Maffei, writing in the first half of the eighteenth century, refers to an amaro, a dry wine from the Valpolicella area), or it could come from Vajo Armaron, where some highly regarded Amarones have been produced for ages. 


All of the Quintarelli Wines in the store:



A bit about Romano Dal Forno



A few years ago the last day of the Vinitaly we left early to go see one of the producers that does not show his wines at the fair- Romano Dal Forno.   We just happened to be doing a tasting with this producers wine in a few weeks after my return, so I was anxious to learn more about this producer from the horse’s mouth.

Although Romano’s wines have become some of the most sought after in all of Italy, there are not many people that know a lot about them, many people believe that he was a pupil of the great Giuseppe Quintarelli.  Well it is true that Dal Forno is a good friend of Quintarelli and that it was Giuseppe’s passion for winemaking that inspired Romano to get into the wine business, however he never worked for Quintarelli like so many wine experts have claimed.  Romano’s family had been land owners in Valpolicella for several generations and they owned vineyards, but they had always sold their grapes to other producers.  Romano never went to enology school, he is a self taught winemaker, his first vintage was 1983 and over the course of the next few he quickly became one of the rising stars of this area. 

His approach to making Amarone is very different from Quintarelli and collectors usually will like one or the other rather than both.  Quintarelli dries his grapes for upwards of six months before crushing them.  This causes the resulting wines to be rather sweet in style.  Romano prefers the taste of dryer wines so he only leaves his grapes to dry for one to two months, thus the resulting wines are fairly dry in style.

When you walk down to the cellar, the stairs are made of white marble tile that has been tumbled so that the surface is not slippery, everything that Romano does is well thought out, he is a perfectionist and it shows in his cellar and in his wines.  The brick work on the ceilings of the cellar is a mosaic and really makes the cellar one of the most attractive that you will encounter.  The barrles are stained in the centers so you will not notice the drippings from topping off.  It seems like every little detail has been thought out.

His greatest recent vintages are:  1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, and the 2004 which is still in barrique.  The Valpolicella is one of the most concentrated and rich that you will encounter and is rich enough that it could be mistaken for Amarone.  The magical elixir, Recioto was declassified in 2003 because it failed the tasting panel from the DOC and will from this vintage on be simply entitled late harvest with the name of the vineyard, Vigna Sere.  There are two tests that Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto have to pass before they are allowed to carry the DOC title.  One is a chemical analysis that measures both the sugar content and the grape varietals.  The second is a physical tasting that the DOC panel conducts to ensure that the wine resembles the style of wines that are produced in this area.  The Recioto in 2003 passed the chemical analysis but the tasting panel failed this wine for being to astringent, this may have angered Dal Forno as he stated that this wine will no longer be submitted for DOC status. 

We were like kids in a candy store during our visit as the exuberant wine producer showed us his newest wines that were still in barrique.  Romano is very passionate about his wines and you could tell that he was glad to have a group of his fans in his home to learn more about what makes this producers wines so unique.

His journey stared with the 1983 vintage and every vintage he has continued to improve his wines by making progress in the vineyard as well as developing new techniques in the winery.  He began a complete renovation and expansion of the winery in 2005 and it was completed by the end of 2007 just in time for the harvest.  One of the things that he stresses is cleanliness.  Some producers of Amarone like to have a bit of "Noble Rot" in their wines.  Romano feels that there is nothing noble about rot, therefore he goes to every extreme to ensure that there is none in his cellar.  The new facility has a series of fans to circulate the air in the cellar so there is very little moisture, which is one of the largest contributors to the formation of mold in the cellar.

Any great producer will tell you that great wine is made in the vineyard and Dal Forno is no exception to this rule.  Dal Forno spends a lot of time tending his vines and has planted several new acres of vines to increase the size of his production which now hovers at around 20,000 cases of the four wines. 



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