Amarone near Venice?
My wife are going to be traveling through Italy with a few days in and around Venice. Amarone is one of our favorite wines and we'd love to visit some producers there. Has anyone had good experiences with vineyards or tours? What about winemakers who also have rooms to rent? If not, I'd love to get some recs as to what we should taste while we're there.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Jeremy, leaving aside Dal Forno for the moment, by far, the best producer in the Veneto is Quintarelli. By far, #2 is Tomasso Bussola. My *easy* #3 is Begali. Dal Fornos can be as expensive as Quintarellis and some people like them as much, but others, myself included, find them too chocolatey.
I *think* all three -- Quintarelli, Bussola, Begali -- are open to the public if you call for an appointment first. (Quintarelli is a bit of a question mark, but Bussola and Begal I know people not ITB who have visited.) Dal Forno I have no idea about.
Other producers to look out for:
Masi (for the Sergeo Alighieri bottling)
Many of these producers have more than one Amarone. Where there are several you should look for Cinque Stella from Castellani, Sergio Zenato from Zenato, TB from Bussola, etc. Quintarelli can cost as much as Dal Forno, i.e. E 250-275 depending on where you buy it. I would also suggest the '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella (E 70-110) is superior to much of the amarone you will taste. You should also give serious consideration to Tenuta Sant Antonio's Amarone and the Valpolicella from Tenuta Chiccheri, particularly the '04 for each.
I would not buy Amarone in Venice: it is expensive. If you have a rental car drive into the countryside when you buy it, particularly the area between Vicenza and Verona and travel north. Also many of the wineries that are not open to the public will host you if you contact them via e-mail or call. You will also find that the restaurants in Venice will have a great deal of variance in their stock as well as their prices. Generally, I believe the two best wine lists are at Il Ridotto (he owns the adjacent enoteca which may be the best in Venice) and Fiaschetteria Toscana where the latter is one of the best in Italy but a bit more expensive. Alle Testiere has a short wine list but he always stocks a good Amarone about E 65 or 70-almost the same price in a store. Il Ridotto had Dal Forno's '03 Valpolicella for E 110. This is the greatest Valpolicella anyone has ever made. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/605395
re: Joe H
>>Many of these producers have more than one Amarone<<
Oh, most deffinitely. Most do. But, for example, with the Bussola, I think the bg, the TB and the TB Vigneto Alto are all good at their respective price points. (And while, Quintarelli and dal Forno are similarly priced, the Quintarelli Riserva? HOLY GUACAMOLE!!!) Actually, if you are going to go $$$$ in Veneto, I think the Quintarelli Alzero is generally the wine to get.
Whiner, I've been fortunate to meet and know Romano Dal Forno-we have become friends with him and his family over the years. FWIW he believes that his 2004 Amarone (which is not yet released) is the greatest wine he has ever made. For myself, his '97 amarone is the best wine (of any) that I have ever tasted. I've been truly honored to taste his wine from the barrel and look forward to the release of the amarone. His '03 Valpolicella I would prefer over many other amarones.
re: Joe H
Thanks, Joe. Good to know. His '97 Recioto was absolutely brilliant, imo. One of the two best non fortified sweet reds I've ever had ('93 Quintarelli Recioto being the other). I didn't get to try the Amarone that vintage. His Amarones can be a little extreme chocolate for me but '04 is an *excellent* but quite well structured vintage, I have found, so it could bode well for him. I'll be sure t be on the lookout for good deals or tasting opportunities. Thanks!
re: Joe H
Joe, Just wanted to ask if Dal Forno cellars allow visitors- other than personal friends? We are going to VinItaly soon - we own a small wine consulting business in MN but are mainly wine lovers. My husband who just turned 70 has been checking things off his bucket list - running with the bulls in Pamplona, Carnival in Rio, & now VinItaly - but it would be more complete if we could visit Dal Forno. He has yet to taste Dal Forno amarone - but it's on his "bucket list". One day I know we'll splurge on a bottle - not sure how soon though.
Meanwhile my husband recently got to taste Ornellaia's Masseto '06. He thinks it might be the best wine he's ever tasted to date - just thought I'd pass that on!
Can't find a working website for Del Forno - can you offer any help?
Anyway just thought I'd ask for your advice.
Italian wineries are terrible with websites. Here is dal forno's: http://www.dalfornoromano.it/ and contact info is Loc. Lodoletta, 4 37030 Cellare di Illasi - Verona
Tel: 045-7834923 Fax: 045-6528364
Anyone can visit, but you have to call ahead and make an appointment (wonder if he'll have time around vinitaly, but asking is the best way to find out). I do not like his wines (too oaky) and neither his "chateau" (new money) but his cellars are very impressive and he is definitely a very nice person. I have also met one of his sons. If your husband liked the ornellaia, he will like dal forno amarone (which you won't necessarily get to taste there, maybe a barrel sample) and if it is on his bucket list, then he should def. Do it!