This evening I had the extremely pleasure to attending a private tasting of wine from the Valpolicella and Soave DOC’s located in the Veneto Region of Italy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneto) I have always been more of a Bordeaux First Growth, Washington and Argentinean wine fan with some regards for Californian, Spanish, Chilean, Australian and New Zealand wines thrown in for good measure. I have had a couple of nice Italian wines, but never any that really knocked my socks off. Well tonight that changed. Thanks to Arnie Milan at Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle, (http://www.esquin.com/) I was invited to a tasting in their “Sky Lounge” of a selection of “fine and rare” Italian wines. Needless to say they did not disappoint. The wines and producers tasted included: Suavia, (http://www.suavia.it/index_eng.html) Le Salette, (http://www.lesalette.it/index_en.php ) and Dal Forno Romano (http://www.viaswine.com/regioni/schedaAzienda.asp?cantina=56).
A total of 10 wines were sampled during the tasting that included a mix of whites, reds and desert wine covering the Soave, Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto styles of vino. Each of these producers make incredible wines, but the true rock star of the night, the first Italian wine I have had that fits nicely in my top producer wine list is the Amarone della Valpolicella from Dal Forno Romano. We were lucky enough to taste the 2003 vintage, which scored a 95 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and 96 from the Wine Enthusiast. This wine is an equal in quality to the best LaTour and Cheval Blanc’s of the wine world. The wine is almost pitch black, with highly concentrated and intense aromas. It is enormous in the mouth with a smooth long finish, that has a smoky taste of deep dark fruit, dark chocolate, minerals and licorice. Only one cluster of grapes is allowed to grow on each vine in the vineyard, as such it takes seven vines to make a bottle of wine. With such low yield in the vineyard, it is easy to see why the price for this wine is very high. Needless to say the care and quality that produce a wine that is equal to, and may exceed, the great French first growths is worthy of the same prices that the greats command; as such it is not an every day drinker, but a true rock star of the cellar.