Vinous – 97
Dinner comes to an end with Romano Dal Forno’s 1997 Recioto. Pure nectar in the glass, the 1997 is a rare treat to taste, as the master of Illasi bottles this wine with notable infrequency. We polish off two bottles, both of which are superb.
Robert Parker – 98
The magnum 1997 Recioto della Valpolicella is a tremendous wine that catapults you to a whole new level of intensity and is, honestly, unlike anything you will ever taste. It pours out of the bottle with inky, impenetrable blackness and the thick consistency of olive oil. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes are harvested and air-dried for up to half a year, then aged carefully in 100% French oak. The bouquet opens in slow motion. Tones of chocolate, hickory smoke, prune, cinnamon cake, prune, black plum, root beer, crushed granite and licorice have the bright intensity of primary colors on a painters’ wheel. The mouthfeel is solid, thickly concentrated and delightfully sweet. The most magical aspect of the wine is how that sweetness hits your senses. It’s as if you don’t expect it: It creeps up on you suddenly. There is a tight tannic backbone that keeps the wine stitched firmly together. Almost indestructible, a wine like this will age longer than most. Drink 2015-2045. The wines of Romano Dal Forno are always a highlight of my annual tasting calendar. In many regards, these radically unique wines put the wine critic to the test, not the other way around. I approach the evaluation with a certain level of apprehension and am willing to bet that many of my wine-writing colleagues experience similar emotions. Dal Forno’s wines throw so much at you at once, in machine-gun rapid-fire succession, you need extra time to recover from the whiplash, gather your thoughts and assess them correctly. They are nearly impossible to taste blind because the enormity of the sensorial characteristics, the stratospheric intensity and the utterly impenetrable appearance are dead giveaways. These wines shout their true identities at ear-piercing decibels. Tasted too young, they are not even likeable. The exaggerated extraction and astringency make them unapproachable for years. Amazingly, beyond the cacophony is melody. Once I â€œgotâ€ these wines, I started to consider them like unique works of art. A painting could hold violent splashes of color but still bring peace to the viewer. A fashion design could be outrageously modeled but still bring comfort to the wearer. Loud percussions can still be part of beautiful music. By the way, the 2007 Amarone was not produced, so production will skip ahead directly to 2008. At press time, I was informed that Dal Forno is no longer represented by Vias Imports in the United States. Folio Fine Wine Partners is the new importer, so these prices may change once Folio brings their new inventory over. Importer: Folio Fine Wine Partners, www.foliowine.com
Anticipated maturity: 2015-2045