In This Newsletter:
Soldera: Seminal Sangiovese
Low in Price but Not Quality:
Vinopolis Bargains That Can’t be Missed
Crown Jewel of Chilean Cab:
Don Melchor arriving Friday
The Count of Monte Rosa
Canary Island Cannon
Haart of the Mosel:
German Gems in the making
Elite, Exclusive, Elusive
Dal Forno’s Benchmark Amarone
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Easily the rarest Sangiovese in the world, Soldera has become world famous for its uncompromising standards, spectacular quality, and a novel’s worth of intrigue. Coming from the spectacular 2016 vintage, this is one of the last bottlings personally attended to by the legendary Gianfranco Soldera before his unexpected passing in 2019.
These are cult wines based on the personality of Gianfranco, and absolute treasures when you consider how few bottles are ever made every vintage. In previous years, these were labeled as Brunello Di Montalcino and would sell out without any “Pre-season” reviews by wine press. This momentum continued even after Soldera’s explosive falling out with the Consorzio di Brunello di Montalcino in 2012. Act fast, we only managed to secure a half case of this beauty!
Arriving September 17th
Soldera Case Basse Sangiovese Toscana IGT Tuscany 2016 750ML ($799.95) $649 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
Crown Jewel of Chilean Cab:
Don Melchor arriving Friday
Arriving ETA September 10th
You’ve heard of Concha Y Toro and their work establishing Chile as a major wine hub but did you know that they have one of the most awarded Chilean wines in their portfolio as well? Don Melchor is their top cuvee from the Puente Alto region, a high elevation growing area at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Sourced from 30 year old vines (Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) planted in alluvial runoff from the latter mountains, this is a perfect snapshot of Chile’s best terroir. If that wasn’t enough, the 2018 vintage is considered one of the best in recent memory, with no adverse weather and ideal conditions throughout the season. With an élevage entirely in French Oak (75% new) this is a collector’s item built for the long haul.
Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto 2018 750ML ($139.95) $108 pre-arrival special, 11 bottles arriving
James Suckling 100 points “This is amazing. The vibrancy and energy in this wine is stunning. The complexity of aromas are breathtaking with flowers, blackcurrants, raspberries and peaches. Full-bodied, yet ever so refined and polished with impeccable texture and beauty. The length is marvelous. This is a testimony to balance, harmony and transparency in a great red. Drink after 2023.”
The Count of Monte Rosa
You’ve heard of sister regions Barolo and Barbaresco but did you know that there is a third sibling that also specialized in Nebbiolo? Alto Piemonte as it’s known by the locals is located at the base of the Italian Alps. These mountains were formed during the shift of the African and European tectonic plates, creating one of the most diverse mix of soils in the world.
You see everything from prehistoric marine sediment, schist, fractured limestone, granite and even sandstone. There is so much complexity that only the locals have dared to try classifying the contents of their soil, with Alberto Arlunno of Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo leading the charge. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period according to archeological digs conducted, with winemaking occurring before the incursion of the Roman Empire. The Arlunno family has been farming in their home village of Ghemme since the 16th century, with their vineyards located primarily in Monte Rosa. The high elevation, varying soil types and ancestral knowledge of the site delivers a wholly unique interpretation of Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo.
The marginal growing conditions combined with the naturally high acid and tannin of Nebbiolo makes these among the most long lived wines in all of Italy. These climactic conditions are also conducive to weathering climate change, with warm vintages still displaying a perfect balance between ripeness and acidity. Cantalupo especially is a master of delivering fruit driven Nebbiolo that’s still loaded with secondary characteristics like botanicals, earth, minerals and truffles. Cantalupo was among the first in the area to label their wines vineyard specifically, not unlike how the Riserva line of Produttori in Barbaresco is classified.
These are benchmark wines that are critically undervalued…for now. As climate change advances Alto Piemonte is considered to be the “Next Barolo” as balance becomes harder and harder to achieve with Nebbiolo’s famous precociousness.
In stock and available now:
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Carolus Bianco, Piedmont NV (2018) 750ML ($21.95) $17 special, 4 bottles in stock now
VinopolNote: A blend of Erbaluce, Arneis and Chardonnay. This wine is all about contrasts–bright and crisp, but with some texture from the Chardonnay. It has a melange of stone fruit on the nose and palate, but also a pleasant herbaceousness and a touch of spice. Pairs with just about anything, including just by itself.
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo ‘Cantalupo Anno Primo’, Ghemme DOCG 2012 750ML ($44.95) $36 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni “The 2012 Cantalupo Anno Primo is a powerful, dark potent wine. Wild cherry, spice, tobacco and menthol contribute to its brooding, somber rustic personality. The 2012 is very big and dense.”
The next best price is $39.99
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae, Ghemme DOCG 2007 3L ($279.95) $219 special, 1 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 92+ points “The 2007 Ghemme Collis Breclamae shows the deeper, slightly wilder side of Ghemme. Game, smoke, licorice, cedar and tobacco are expressed with elements of burliness and rusticity. There is more than enough depth to fill out the wine’s broad shoulders. Still, what comes through most is the wine’s virile, imposing personality.”
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae, Ghemme DOCG 2011 750ML ($89.95) $69 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae, Ghemme DOCG 2011 1.5L ($149.95) $119 special, 2 magnums in stock now
Antonio Galloni 91 points “The 2011 Ghemme Collis Breclemae is heady, rich and unctuous – almost unnaturally so. This is a very big wine with notes of black cherry, pine, smoke, licorice, leather and incense. The 2011 is a powerful, virile, brooding wine with real intensity.”
Importer note “Soil is made up of moraine (glacial deposit) which is high in minerals, rocks, gravel and sand. Grapes were destemmed and delicately pressed keeping the rolls of the destemmer sufficiently distant from each other in order to avoid the ill-treating of the grapes as much as possible. After the fermentation at 28-30 degrees Celsius, two pressings a day were carreid out in order to favor the extraction of the anthocyans and the polymerised tannins from the skins, which give that characteristic velvety, sweet and at the same time austere taste to this wine.”
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae, Ghemme DOCG 2013 750ML ($79.95) $55 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae, Ghemme DOCG 2013 1.5L ($149.95) $199 special, 18 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 96 points “The 2013 Ghemme Collis Breclamae is fabulous. Deep, dark and also translucent, the 2013 possesses magnificent clarity as well as structure. Black cherry, lavender, truffle, mint, spice and new leather all develop in an ample, resonant Ghemme that hits all the right notes. A rich, substantial finish rounds things out in style. The 2013 can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring, but it also has the pedigree to develop in the cellar for many years to come. Each time I come back to the 2013 it is more impressive.”
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Carellae, Ghemme DOCG 2011 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2011 Ghemme Collis Carellae is another huge wine in this range from Cantalupo. Sweet red cherry, plum, cedar, tobacco, mint, dried flowers and licorice are all amped up here. Even with all of its natural intensity, the 2011 possesses just enough freshness and verve to keep things in check. The 2011 is very obviously a dramatic wine, but all of the elements are nicely balanced.”
The average price is $55
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo ‘Mia Ida’ Spumante Brut Rose, Piedmont NV 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 92 points “Very pale pink. Boasts extremely refined floral nuances to the vanilla and red cherry aromas and flavors. Bright and clean, with a lovely creamy presence on the palate and boasting sneaky concentration and complexity, not to mention a long precise finish. Lovely.”
Canary Island Cannon
Their Canary Island project is largely based on the island of Tenerife, where the Listan Negro vines see a wholly unique pruning technique called Cordon Trenzado. Rather than prune and tie the canes to wires as seen everywhere else in the world, the vines are instead braided together with the clusters tucked inside to protect them from the hot sun and constant wind. Due to the island’s geographic isolation (the Canary Islands are closer to Morocco than Spain) phylloxera never arrived, so the vines are ungrafted and exceptionally old. Given the highly traditional vinification and average vine age, drinking this wine is a journey into the past from the first pour. Similar to Pinot Noir or Mencia, there’s a red and black fruited character that’s plumped up by a savory and chewy texture and highly expressive aromas.
In Stock Now:
Envinate ‘Benje’ Canary Islands 2019 1.5L ($99.95) $79 special, 6 magnums in stock now
John Gilman 92 points “The 2019 Benje Tinto from Envínate is composed from its customary blend of Listán Prieto and Tintilla, sourced from several parcels all growing at one thousand meters of elevation. Each parcel is picked and fermented separately, before blending for malo and aging in older Burgundy barrels. The wine offers up a superb aromatic constellation of bitter cherry, green peppercorns, a very complex base of volcanic minerality, chicory, a wisp of tree bark, a fine array of botanicals and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish and tangy, with lovely intensity of flavor, fine soil signature and grip, modest tannins and a long, complex and promising finish. This is quite approachable today, but still fairly primary in personality and some bottle age will reveal more complexity. 2021-2050.”
Winery note “Benje Tinto is sourced from 1,000 meters elevation, old-vine, pie franco parcels of Listan Prieto (Mission) with a bit of Tintilla, named “Masca,” “La Zanja,” “Valle de Arriba,” and “Llano Redondo”, all of them located in Santiago del Teide. Each parcel is hand-harvested and vinified separately, some in concrete and some in small open tubs. Maceration is 10-30 days (depending on parcel) with daily punch-down; malolactic fermentation is in neutral French barriques, then raised 8 months in the same barrels without battonage or added SO2. Bottling is without fining or filtration. This is a pure and vertical expression of high elevation, volcanic Canary terrun~o with notes of red fruits, peppercorns, flowers, and volcanic soil – a beautiful wine to pair with grilled meats and mojo rojo.”
Haart of the Mosel:
German Gems in the making
Julian Haart is one of the brightest stars in the new generation of Mosel winemakers and is a cult figure in the making. With critics already comparing his work to his former teacher and wine icon Keller, you’d best grab these before they become rarities. With holdings of less than ten acres, everything is farmed organically and by hand (mostly out of necessity on account of the precipitous slope).
In Stock Now from Julian Haart:
Julian Haart “1,000L” Riesling 2020 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Importer note “This is legally Trocken in 2020 and sourced from 25-year-old vines in the Grand Cru Goldtröpfchen vineyard. The “1,000L” is so-named because it is a wine that was, originally, a chosen Fuder – a 1,000L barrel. The entire barrel was bought, and that was that. The wines are always brisk, tense with high-toned citrus, good minerality.”
Julian Haart ‘J.J.’ Riesling Kabinett Mosel 2020 750ML ($33.95) $28 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Importer note “This is sourced from vines in the Grand Cru Goldtröpfchen vineyard as well as Falkenberg which is located just above on the same slope. J.J. is both a nod to Julian’s son “Johann Josef” (also the name of his Grandfather and Great-Grandfather!) as well as a homage to the house style of J.J. Prüm, of which this ultra-light style Kabinett is reminiscent of. With 46g of RS this has an elegant interplay of sweetness and acidity, the push and pull of oppulance and tension.”
Julian Haart Wines Arriving Friday, September 10th:
Julian Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett Mosel 2020 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 pre-arrival special
Julian Haart ‘Moselle’ Riesling Mosel 2020 750ML ($33.95) $27 pre-arrival special
Importer note “The Moselle Riesling comes essentially from the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, with in addition grapes from the Wintricher Ohligsberg and Piesporter Günterslay, and was fermented down to barely off-dry levels of residual sugar.”
There are few areas in the world that have been cultivating wine grapes as long as the South of France. Originally planted by the Corinthians in the 7th century, the region is famous for her almost constant sunshine, warm temperatures, refreshing breeze and spectacular vistas of the Mediterranean Sea and amphitheater of mountains.
These elements converge to make it a veritable paradise, and exceptional terroir for wine. The best sites have often been cultivated since the Roman Empire, and oftentimes still feature the original stone terraces made by them to prevent erosion. Domaine Lafage is lucky enough to have one of these sites, with the oldest vines being over 80 years old.
Comprised of Grenache Noir and its mutation Grenache Gris (Which only occurs naturally when the vine reaches 50-60 years of age) with a sprinkling of younger Mourvèdre vines, this is a quintessential Roussillon rose. With a flavor profile that brings to mind apricots, peaches and river rock minerality, the sites proximity to the sea is evident in the glass with a refreshing salinity that is reminiscent of ocean air accentuated by oregano blossom, wormwood and marmalade.
Domaine Lafage Cotes du Roussillon Miraflors Rose France 2020 ($21.95) $18 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 91 points “White peach, orange blossom, and white flower notes emerge from the 2020 Miraflors. It’s another clean, balanced, beautiful effort with bright acidity and a clean, dry finish.”
Eric Solomon Imports note “Mourvedre, Grenache Gris, Grenache Practicing Organic 80 yr old vines. Light Pink-colored with beautiful white peach, orange zest and salty sea breeze aromas and flabros in its vibrant, crisp profile. Pure and vibrant as it gets, a classic, provencal-style beauty.”
Elite, Exclusive, Elusive
In stock now:
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Santenay Vieilles Vignes Cote de Beaune 2018 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 29 bottles in stock now
Neal Martin-Vinous 90-92 points “The 2018 Santenay Vieilles Vignes comes from 115-year-old vines, which must be some of the oldest in the region, yielding only around 20hl/ha. It has a lovely, very pure black currant and raspberry bouquet full of nascent joie-de-vivre. The medium-bodied palate matches fine-grained tannins with a bead of acidity; this is all about elegance and purity. The caressing finish is tinged with cassis and iodine. A gorgeous Santenay from Damien and Caroline Colin.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 89-91 points “Offering up aromas of red berries, cassis, orange rind and rose petals, the 2018 Santenay Vieilles Vignes is medium to full-bodied, rich and concentrated, its powdery tannins concealed by a layered core of fruit. This may well prove to be a sleeper of the vintage.”
Sine Qua Non is one of the rarest cult producers in California. Their bottlings are so in demand they are sold exclusively through a mailing list and are almost never seen on the retail market. These are some of the most profound expressions of Californian wine in how they encapsulate developed richness with verve and lift at the same time.
In stock now:
Sine Qua Non ‘Squeezebox – Ziehharmonika’ Syrah California 2018 750ML ($299.95) $249 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 99 points “Checking in as 82% Syrah, 6.7% Mourvèdre, and the rest Petite Sirah and Grenache, the 2018 Syrah Ziehharmonika was largely destemmed and brought up in 51% new French oak. Gorgeous crème de cassis, smoked game, bacon fat, and spring flower notes all soar from the glass of this beauty, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ripe, building tannins, and a rare mix of richness and freshness. Unquestionably made in a more restrained, elegant style compared to a decade ago, it nevertheless is flawlessly balanced, has awesome tannins, and is just another magical wine from this address that’s going to benefit from 3-5 years of bottle age and keep for two decades.”
Antonio Galloni 96-98 points “The 2018 Syrah Ziehharmonika is another absolutely exquisite wine from Elaine and Manfred Krankl. Rich, deep and potent to the core, the 2018 captures a striking mix of lush fruit as well as the energy of the year. All the elements simply fall into place in a magical Syrah that will thrill Sine Qua Non lovers. The 2018 is 82% Syrah, 6.7% Mourvèdre, 5.0% Petite Sirah, 2.3 % Grenache, 2.7% Viognier and 1.3% Muscat. Interestingly, the whole clusters are just 14%, so quite a bit lower than found in the Grenache. Vineyard sites are The Third Twin, Eleven Confessions and Cumulus, all estate ranches.”
Named for the temple to the ancient god, Hermes the site is now one of the “Grand Crus” of the Nahe region. Comprised of 65-100 year old vines, a vertigo inducing slope, and soil comprised of black slate and limestone this is lightning in a bottle. Explosively aromatic and delivering currents of mineral infused fruit including everything from quince, yuzu, Seville orange, Harken peach and kaffir lime with an savory underscoring of yellow miso and chanterelle.
In stock now:
Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Nahe 2018 750ML ($99.95) $79 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Nahe 2018 375ML ($59.95) $49 special, 24 half-bottles in stock now
John Gilman 98 points “The purity and precision of the 2018 Hermannshöhle Auslese is the stuff that legends used to be made from. The bouquet is complex and utterly refined, offering up scents of pear, white cherries, bee pollen, a touch of orange zest, lovely salinity and a mineral bath of slate. On the palate the wine is fullish, racy and utterly seamless in its balance, with great intensity of flavor, laser-like focus and truly stunning mineral drive on the backend (particularly for Auslese), with an endless and magical finish. 2032-2090+.”
David Schildknecht-Vinous 95 points “Like its Brücke counterpart, this Auslese reflects genuinely botrytis-free grapes, said Dönnhoff, but ones that were too numerous and too high in sugar to use elsewhere, “and certainly not in the Grosses Gewächs, which would then have ended up with 14% alcohol.” Sea breeze on the nose intimates the sweet-saline savor of raw scallop that emerges on this wine’s lusciously lingering, mouthwateringly umami-rich finish. White peach and quince preserves feature throughout, reinforced on the soothingly creamy palate by nougat-like nut essences. There is an animating, juicy fresh-fruit aspect as well, and a wonderful sense of both focus and transparency to stony and ore-like nuances.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2018 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese is deep and noble in its finesse and purity that is paired with notes of crushed stones but also perfectly ripe and healthy fruits. Lush and piquant on the palate, with lingering salinity and finesse, this is the more graceful Auslese, which is less challenging than the Brücke but very delicate and finessed. The acidity is finer and the sweetness smoother and more charming yet less dramatic right now. Tasted in July 2019.”
Muscadet was originally farmed in Burgundy, but it left the nest as Chardonnay and Aligote began to command prominence. Since the 17th century Melon de Bourgogne as it was known by in the Loire, is now one of the most prolific white varietals. As they say in Burgundy “Wine is made in the vineyard” and this is no better evidenced by the vineyard this wine is made from.
There is a refreshing acid that carries a cornucopia of apples, finishing with a deliciously savory white miso and ash salt. This is a wine made for seafood or something spicy like Dungeness crab, oysters in a half shell or green curry.
In stock now:
Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie ‘Les Gras Moutons’ Loire 2019 750ML ($24.95) $20.90 special, 17 bottles in stock now
Importer note “Gras Moutons is a lieu-dit made up of two parcels totaling 1.8 hectares in the cru of Monnières-Saint Fiacre. The soils consist of sand, limestone and gneiss. The constant winds in the area make for grapes that have to be harvested later than the rest. While released young, this wine always benefits from a few years in bottle.”
Alexandre Chartogne is single handedly credited with reviving the reputation of his home village of Merfy. Located just northwest of Reims in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, Alexandre Chartogne took over his family’s 28 acres in 2006 after apprenticing under legendary Champenois, Jacques Selosse. At its peak acclaim in the Middle Ages, there were more grapevines planted in Merfy than the entire Marne region of Champagne thanks to the local monks.
Alexandre instituted organic farming methods, horse plowing and restorative cover crops, while phasing out all chemical based inputs on the estate. Call it technical skill, or exceptional farming either way his entry level easily hits at a $75-$100 price point. The tutelage under Selosse is evident from the first pour, with beautiful aromas of autolysis and barrel fermentation like cream, toasted bread and vanilla at an undeniable level of intensity. These notes are bolstered by a spectrum of citrus, white flowers and pomme fruit like golden apple, lemon pith, quince flower and orange blossom.
In Stock and available now:
Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($51.95) $44 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Ste Anne, Champagne NV 750ML ($299.95) $249 special (That’s $41.50 per bottle!)
John Gilman 90+ points “The current release of Alexandre Chartogne’s Cuvée Ste. Anne non-vintage Brut is from the base year of 2017. The vins clairs were raised in a combination of both stainless steel and oak and the wine was not bottled up for secondary fermentation until July of 2018. The cépages is its customary blend of nearly equal parts of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and the wine was disgorged in February of 2020, with a finishing dosage of just over five grams per liter. The wine offers up a vibrant bouquet of apple, white peach, a fine base of soil tones, brioche, gentle smokiness and a topnote of white flowers. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a good core, elegant bubbles, fine balance and grip and a long, zesty and quite classy finish. This seems a touch longer on the backend to me than the last couple of iterations of this bottling that I have tasted and is first class, non-vintage Brut. But, this is still a fairly young wine and I would be inclined to give it some bottle age to let it start to blossom properly. 2022-2040.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90 points “The latest release of Chartogne’s NV Brut Sainte Anne is based on the 2017 vintage, complemented by 40% reserve wines. Disgorged in September 2020 with five grams per liter dosage, it opens in the glass with aromas of crisp yellow orchard fruit, white flowers and fresh pastry. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, it’s elegantly textural, bright and precise, with a seamless, harmonious profile.”
Dal Forno’s Benchmark Amarone
You’d be hard pressed to find a producer more synonymous with their region’s production than Dal Forno. When it comes to Valpolicella, the Dal Forno family does just that. For more than 30 years, Dal Forno has been producing deeply concentrated Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto.
Romano Dal Forno, the current winemaker/owner, took over the farm in 1983. Risking everything, he invested a large amount in 1990 to update the winery and refine Dal Forno’s process. The extremely bold flavor of the Valpolicella Superiore is a great example of Dal Forno’s commitment to perfection and their respect for traditional winemaking. Just short of an Amarone, it’s made entirely with fruit that has been dried, though for less time than that legally required for Amarone. A key to the Dal Forno style seems to be an incredibly low yield from their vineyard: each bottle of Valpolicella takes six vines worth of grapes to produce!
In stock and available now:
Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2008 750ML ($349.95) $319 special, 2 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 98 points “The 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella is compelling. With a little air, the tannins begin to soften, releasing a myriad of intense dark aromas and flavors. Bittersweet chocolate, cloves, violets, plums and blackberry jam cover every inch of the palate in a stunning, headspinning Amarone that captures all of the best qualities of the year. When Romano Dal Forno’s wines are on, there is nothing quite like them, and that is certainly the case here. If opened young, the 2008 needs a little air. Actually, a lot of air.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 points “Production was skipped over in 2007 due to extreme hail damage. The fruit that would normally be destined to Amarone went to the lower tier Valpolicella Superiore instead. The 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta marks a return to a slightly cooler vintage with a longer growing season slowed down during the summer’s moderate temperatures. Indeed, harvest was wrapped up during the first days of November. The blend is mostly Corvina, at about 60%, with smaller parts Corvinone, Rondinella, Croatina and Oseleta. The new Dal Forno winery was finished in 2008, complete with the unique vacuum-sealed fermentation tasks that help to avoid any intrusive oxygen during winemaking. Indeed, this wine is balanced and elegant with fruit that is still crunchy and very much alive. The tannins are firm and nicely integrated into the wine’s thick, fleshy consistency. This vintage is characterized by a very elegant and graceful approach, which must be taken into context given the enormity of a wine of this caliber. Happily, there is no doubt that this vintage should still evolve steadily over time.”
Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2010 750ML ($349.95) $319 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Decanter 98 points “2010 is a more considered vintage compared to the outright opulence of 2009, but it’s no shrinking violet, especially in Dal Forno’s hands. This has a meaty nose with savoury hedgerow fruit , surprisingly open already. I had to put an exclamation mark after writing ‘elegant’ in my notes, as it seems incomprehensible that a wine of this magnitude could still have such balletic balance. It is broad and juicy, with chalky grip and clean, fresh acids followed by a hint of warmth on the long finish.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “This was an excellent vintage in much of Italy, but unfortunately the weather was not as pleasant in this specific area of the Valpolicella. The season saw a lot of rain, and a good amount of fruit was cut and left on the ground because it could not be used. Considering these difficulties, Michele Dal Forno tells me he is “more than happy with the results.” I tasted the 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta next to the 2009 vintage, and having these two wines side by side reinforces just how different they are. The 2010 vintages is sharper, more pointed and direct in comparison, and there is a tiny point of sourness on the close. This wine does not reach the same threshold for fullness, density or richness. It does come close. The wine’s residual sugar measures between 5 and 6 grams per liter, which is normal for this wine, and the bouquet is redolent of familiar black fruit, raisin and spice. However, the wine feels a bit stuck in its tracks at the moment and is evidently experiencing a shy phase in its evolution. It has retreated.”
Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2011 750ML ($419.95) $369 special, 7 bottles in stock now
Decanter 99 points “The strongest wine in my selection, yet this magnificent Amarone’s alcohol is barely visible thanks to its astonishing depth, texture and sumptuousness. Pressed black fruits seep with fruit essences; smoke and cinders; herbal complexities; teasing floral notes, all engraved into a palate that expresses creamy finesse but without a trace of superfluous fat, heat or obviousness. Beautifully crafted, as dignified as any grand Barolo.”
Ian D’agata-Vinous 95+ points “Fully saturated ruby. Very deep, intense aromas of blackcurrant, plums macerated in alcohol, soy sauce, coffee and underbrush on the complex nose. Rich, dense and balanced, with nicely focused flavors of dark berries and aromatic herbs that have a noteworthy savory tang. The long finish features repeating hints of soy sauce, espresso and underbrush. Dal Forno’s is the recognized master of a uniquely powerful, ripe, and concentrated style of Amarone.”
Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2012 750ML ($419.95) $319 special, 8 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 97 points “A decadent nose of treacle tart, chocolate, tar, tons of black fruit such as blackberries and mulberries and even ash and licorice. A dense, layered mouthfeel makes for a full-bodied palate that’s explosive yet somehow so refined and pretty all at the same time. The finish goes on and on. Incredible now, but better to wait for this giant to settle well into 2020.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta is a beautifully complete wine, even at this young stage in its life. You feel the youth of the wine in the tightness of the tannins and in the finely knit texture of its concentrated flavor profile. The big surprise is the wine’s fresh acidity that has been carefully safeguarded despite the heat of the vintage and the drying process so deftly executed at this landmark estate. The wine shows no sign of oxidation or evolution, not yet. There is intricate fruit layering with cherry, blackberry, spice and mesquite delivered with such precision, that level of detail defies the very bold and opulent essence of the wine. It has only just started its evolutionary journey.”
Decanter 96 points “Romano Dal Forno took control of his family’s 25ha in 1980, aged 22, quickly turning to Amarone maestro Giuseppe Quintarelli for advice and tutorship. Dal Forno focussed on a dramatic reduction of yields, replacing the oxidation-prone Molinara grape with the rare Oseleta, and set about introducing a system of manual sorting to remove less than perfect grapes. It takes nine vines to create one bottle of Dal Forno’s Amarone, with a drying period of three months leading to 15 days of fermentation in temperature-controlled steel tanks. Ageing takes place in new oak for 36 months, followed by another 24 months in bottle. It’s a blend of 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Croatina and 10% Oseleta. Michael Garner: Exuberant, dense and chewy with peppery black fruit flavours, while showing some delicacy of aroma. Intense and will develop further, perhaps offering more power than grace. Andrew Jefford: It’s not showy on the nose but is super-attractive, and it just grows more so the more time you spend with it. On the palate it’s rich, deep, magnificently tannic and long – an absolutely unbridled Amarone, yet at the same time of extraordinary resonance, authority and subtlety. An Amarone masterclass! Monty Waldin: Its evident concentration really comes through on the palate, with a mix of smooth and slightly more savoury, drier tannins that mingle amicably under some ripely sweet red fruit, while finishing with a distinct brightness.”
Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 750ML ($419.95) $319 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 98 points “The 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta is my favorite wine in the retrospective, along with the amazing 2011, 2009 and 1996 vintages. This wine was released at the beginning of this year, and because Dal Forno skipped over the 2014 vintage, this is the only Amarone we will see for a while (until the highly anticipated 2015 is released). The 2013 vintage is characterized by a slightly more streamlined mouthfeel (which isn’t saying much given the baseline enormity of these wines) with carefully etched aromas of black cherry, rum cake, dark chocolate and toasted espresso. The 2013 vintage was balanced overall without the sudden heat waves we saw in the summers of 2011 and 2012. The grapes finished a slow and steady ripening process over an extended growing season. The effect is graceful and focused. Put this bottle aside in your cellar for the decades to come.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 97 points “The 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta needs time – and a lot of it – to show all of its charms. But worry not, because you can already find pleasure in its dramatic display of rich plums and cherries dipped in mocha-infused chocolate with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and sweet tobacco. This is black as night yet truly purple in color, with depths of concentrated wild berry fruits contrasted by zesty acids that do an amazing job of lifting the expression. Grippy tannins saturate slowly, sneaking up on you and lasting throughout the impossibly long black hole of a finish, where notes of licorice, bitters and a coating of cocoa powder linger. Wow. The 2013 is built for the cellar and with tons of upside potential. If you dare to delve into one of these while young, I’d suggest opening your bottle a number of hours prior to enjoying. That said, this will be worth the wait.”
Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Valpolicella Superiore Veneto 2013 ($119.95) $94.50 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Decanter 97 points “From one of the most iconic wineries in the Orientale, this is aged for two years in oak and a further three in bottle. A proper meditation wine, great with game, strong cheeses or a cigar. It has a huge nose of stewed red fruits, ethereal bramble forest fruits and blackberry jam. Generous, with spicy, bitter cherry-stone freshness. Full-bodied with a rich, intense, spicy undertone.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “This is a terrific wine that stood out—and stood tall—despite the fact that it was tasted alongside some of Dal Forno’s most important vintages of the top-shelf Amarone. If that’s not a full-on recommendation, I don’t know what is. The 2013 Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta oozes forth with thick concentration and an inky black color. The mouthfeel is thick and impenetrable, and the senses are treated to a long succession of black fruit, tar, spice, smoke, mesquite and barbecue flavors. The wine is full-bodied and very opulent, but it carries that massive intensity with grace and precision. This Valpolicella Superiore is very nicely done.”