February 3, 2014
A Note from Sergio
often said that Amarone is a tough wine to make well, but that kind of
generalization doesn't help the wine-lover who balks at a serious
Amarone's serious price tag. So let me give you some specifics. The
average bottle of wine requires a little over two pounds of grapes.
Amarone requires around 23 pounds--about ten times as much. The reason
comes from the appassimento technique that Amarone makers use to make
the wine. "Appassimento" means "withered" or "drying," and in this
technique, winemakers partially dry the grapes, usually for about three
months, before pressing them into wine.
A long time ago,
producers would spread the grapes on straw mats and hope for the best.
These days, they have great rooms filled with trays where they carefully
spread their grapes to dry. Even with all the modern conveniences of
electric fans and humidity control, some grapes rot. So this technique
doesn't merely require much more raw material to make the wine, but it
also requires more room, incurs more loss, and needs more money for
equipment. And that's all before you even begin to ferment the grapes.
Dal Forno learned from his mentor, the late, great Giuseppe
Quintarelli, that very dense plantings and very low yields were the
foundation for great Amarone. Dal Forno has one of the densest vineyard
plantings in Italy--around 5,200 plants per acre--and one of the lowest
yields per plant--around 11 ounces of grapes. Take a moment and do the
math: if Dal Forno needs about 23 pounds of grapes for each bottle of
wine, and each plant produces just 11 ounces, the estate uses the fruit
of 33.5 plants in each bottle of wine. No wonder that Dal Forno hasn't
raised its production levels in almost twenty years. And no wonder that
he makes some of the most intense, mind-blowing, gorgeous wines on the
I give this information as a preamble to debuting the
2008 Dal Forno Amarone, a wine that's undeniably a luxury as well as
unquestionably luxurious. It's a great hedonist treat, a velvet-wrapped
experience, and one that makes impassioned converts out of the dubious.
It's also a wine whose sheer power and beauty hide all the work that
goes into it. Dal Forno hasn't made an Amarone since 2006, and this one
will sell out quickly, especially since we're debuting it at the lowest
pricing in the States.
Along with this luxury treat, I'm
delighted to offer a pair of IWM client favorites: an Argentine Merlot
from Sassicaia's maker, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta, and a rustic,
artisanal Barolo from Renzo Seghesio. Both of these wines are
individualistic representations of their genre, and both belong on your
table. You can't drink something like Dal Forno Amarone every night, but
these beautiful bottles give you delicious alternatives.