While I have been quite a fan of the Quintarelli wines for a while, as the prices rose, there were less opportunities for tastings them. I also must admit that while I appreciate Amarone & the immense skill & effort needed to grow & produce one, I have not been so wow-ed by Amarone in general. The wines were often too much about ripeness for me & less about terroir.
(Please understand, I once fortunately had a 25 plus year old Quintarelli Amarone & therefore understood that once the wine had a chance to resolve itself through considerable bottle age, the terroir would show itself once again, surrounded by harmony & real thoroughbred class).
Eventhough I was so impressed with the magnitude of Quintarelli Amarone (& Dal Forno Romano & I would also include Quintarelli Alzero), I just couldn’t bring myself to buy them because of the high price tag & more often than not, chose to instead spend my money on something else.
It was therefore quite thrilling to again sample a couple of of Quintarelli red wines that had some bottle age. I was anxious when I first saw the bottles & most thankful to sample such wine treasures. And, while they were not Amarone, they were standouts & very memorable in their own right.
2008 Quintarelli “Ca’ del Merlot”–just in case readers are not familiar with Quintarelli wines, this wine is NOT at all about Merlot, & as far as I know, has NO Merlot included in its blend. This is a single vineyard (limestone, clay & basalt dominated soils), rising up to a hillside near & above the town of Negrar with the Veneto region of northeast Italy. It took me a while to understand this bottling, as it is typically a blend–mainly of Corvina & Corvinone with a small percentage of Rondinella & a smattering of other grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc, Nebbiolo, Croatina & Sangiovese. The key word to describe this wine is “graceful”. It is really graceful as it smoothly glides down the palate, yes, with more viscosity & density & I was really taken by it. It is also much more than ripe fruit, opulence & a raisiny edge. It was unique & memorable. 50% of the grapes are immediately pressed & initially made as one would a still red wine. (The other 50% is dried for 2 months.) This juice is then added to the Amarone lees which creates a secondary fermentation (ripasso). Once that is complete, the wine is then racked into large Slavonian oak barrels for at least 7 years. Yes, Quintarelli is world renown for his patience & great care when making his wines, which is mostly why his wines are so individual, highly revered, sought after & pricey. We are quite the fans of this wine.
1990 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore”–I was actually initially given this wine blind. I had NO idea what was in the glass & I was really quite taken with what I was smelling. The wine had lots of class & vinosity, was VERY captivating & VERY harmonious. When I was told what it was I just dove back in again & again. The perfume really was very unique, compelling & virtually incomparable to anything I remember having before. There was a delicate, sweet oak presence though very well integrated with dried fruit & a wonderful savoriness, lush, viscous texture, nuance after nuance & a very long finish.. Though obviously aged, it was quite surprisingly youthful in its core. What a wine! Not necessarily Grand Cru in its intent, but certainly a very intriguing, provocative, unique & a special bottle of wine. Thank you Mike for sharing!
Both of these wine treasures reaffirmed the masterful talent of Quintarelli, that’s for sure.