My wife and I went to Dal Forno last December and bought six bottles of his '98 Valpolicella, four bottles of '97 Recioto and two bottles of '97 Amarone. Over six nights there I drank his '98 Valpolicella on four of them in restaurants. Returning home I lost control and finished the six off over the next two months along with a bottle of the Recioto.
I bought six bottles of the Valpolicella though Woodland Hills (could not find them locally) and a bottle of the '97 Recioto while travelling. At this point I've drank three bottles of the "Woodland Hills" sourced wine and it has nothing in common with what I brought back from the winery. The same is true with the Recioto which, purchased there, is on par with the '90 Avignonesi Vin Santo which I used to think was the greatest dessert wine I've ever tasted.
The result of all this is almost a fear of buying certain wine unless I am totally confidant that it has been shipped and stored properly. I bought a lot of bordeaux from Costco in Fairfax a year or so ago because of their futures price on 2000 which they passed along. Many of these were incredible bargains. Few of these bottles have been opened but the ones that I have seem to be fine. In fact a couple are truly extraordinary.
Several years ago I bought a case of Silver Oak at Pearson's and stored it for a couple of years before opening it. Every bottle disappointed. Pearson's!
Nicolis Ambrosan Amarone from a Georgetown store about the same time had the same result. '95 Ambrosan Amarone at the source was delicious.
Having said all this I'll probably find a way to be in northwest D. C. in a day or two to try it-if there's any left! But Zora's story and my Dal Forno and other experiences only confirm some long standing fears.