Romano Dal Forno: tradition, passion and technology

by Livia Belardelli 03/23/16
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Romano Dal Forno: tradizione, passione e tecnologia

Act One: the Veneto Hills in the fog, the Dal Forno estate

Fog often lingers over the hills and vineyards here, blanketing the vines and the valleys. Yet even in the fog the two massive gates of the Dal Forno estate can be seen from afar. And in the fog even Romano Dal Forno stands out as he comes out to greet us. In his home he leads us to an austere wooden table while his wife, who we will meet shortly, prepares Sunday lunch for the family, which today includes two of their children and a grandchild. Romano takes the child in his arms and proceeds to tell us how it all started, now many years ago. On the one had he proudly shows his affectionate, grandfather side and on the other the enthusiasm of an entrepreneur, a man who believed in what he was doing and put it into a bottle.

“This land is only good for growing corm,” the great master of Amarone Bepi Quintarelli once fondly told him, but the young Dal Forno, who was 26 at the time, took his skepticism as a challenge, being convinced, as he was, of the potential of the Illasi hills. His enthusiasm then was at least the same as now and this is what allowed him to transform his dream into reality with obstinate determination. And he did this day by day, with intelligence, foresight and conviction.

His cellar is a perfect combination of technology and passion, modernity and tradition, together something rare and subtle and difficult to find. Here technology is at the service of tradition with innovation geared to enhance quality. The cellar has large rooms filled with barrels as well as the occasional Moto Guzzi motorcycle from the 1930s, Romano’s other passion. The further down we go the more the cellar becomes opulent and intriguing with giant stone pillars supporting the weight above a treasure of shelves packed with bottles.

The tasting session was not unlike a pagan ritual. We tasted the 2013 vintage, sampling from wine from barrels that is only at the beginning of its long passage. The Valpolicella is full and concentrated, with smoky, floral and spicy sensations. The Amarone, again vintage 2013, has sensations that are even more smoky and rich along with some sweet fruit that in the mouth is already balanced by nice tannins and an excellent acidity. To taste these there, in that underground cathedral, was a most moving experience.


On our way up we stopped on the level just below the ground floor where Romano gave us a few bottles, a totally unexpected and equally welcomed and appreciated gift.

All in all the visit lasted two hours, 240 minutes that just flew by between the tour and the tasting. And on our way back to Verona we watched as the fog lifted.


Act Two: Rome, inside a living room, late afternoon

The bottles are ready as are Riccardo Viscardi, who arranged my visit with his great friend Dal Forno, and myself, both with our taste buds primed for the tasting. Before us are a Valpolicella 2010 and an Amarone 2010. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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