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Report 2013: Two Splendid Weeks in Northern Italy

By Engred from Oregon, Fall 2011

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Page 7 of 14: Amarone Pilgrimage

After a lovely breakfast, we started our Valpolicella pilgrimage! After a 130km drive (about 80 miles) we arrive at Masi, one of the amarone producers of Italy. We met Francesca Brunelli who led us on a tour of Masi’s amazing production facility and cellars. Hopping back in the van, we followed Francesca down a dirt road lined with cypress trees to another group of buildings, which were the drying rooms for the grapes. She led us through the rooms, explaining the drying process and the material from which the drying racks were made. Very interesting to learn about and see the process which results in one of our favorite wines!

Leaving Masi, we stopped for lunch at a charming restaurant, Locanda ‘800, located adjacent to an old farmhouse, Vigna ‘800, outside of the town of Negrar in the heart of Valpolicella. The farm on which the farmhouse and restaurant are located dates back to 1799 and the grounds surrounding the restaurant and farmhouse are beautiful. We had a fantastic lunch, which included a lovely plate of prosciutto (of course) and a fantastic lobster salad. It was a great meal in a beautiful setting, and I would love to come back and stay in the farmhouse some day!

After lunch, we made our way to one of the other great Amarone producers, Dal Forno! The winery is located in the town of Ilasi and was recently remodeled and a significant addition was constructed, with architecture similar to a French chateau. The winery is owed by Romano Dal Forno, who released his first vintage in 1983. We were greeted by Mr. Dal Forno’s son Michele (he has three sons, all of whom work in the winery) who apologized for his attire as he had been working in the vineyard all day. Michele took us on a great tour of the winery, including the new drying rooms. He did a wonderful job of explaining Dal Forno’s Amarone production process, which interestingly is slightly different than Masi, using a different style of racks, drying process, etc.

Leading us down to the cellar, he even gave us a barrel tasting, taking great care to properly clean the barrel stopper before inserting it (seriously, he should have been a surgeon). At the end of the tour, we thanked Michele and asked to use the bagno before we departed. He led us into the portion of the property where his parents live where we all took turns getting ready for the long ride back. Suddenly Michele came into what appeared to be the dining room with a small bottle of wine and announced that his father was going to stop in and enjoy a glass of wine with us! We were stunned and while Michele left to find Romano, we looked at the bottle and discovered that we were going to be trying their dessert wine, the Vigna Seré, a sweet red wine. Mr. Dal Forno arrived, wine was poured and we had a nice visit with translation assistance by Michele and Guido.

Reluctantly, we piled back into the van for the long drive back to the hotel. Little did we know that a wonderful dinner was in store when we returned to Asolo. We freshened up at the hotel and then had a short drive down the hill to Baggio Ristorante. It was a charming family-run restaurant, filled with locals enjoying their wine and food. You can tell it had been a long day, because I have no notes about what we ate. But I recall it was a very good meal with very good wine – a wonderful end to a truly exceptional day of wine!

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