Gorgeous Valpolicella From Perhaps the Most Important Name in Veneto

Today’s Story: Giuseppe Quintarelli

Giuseppe Quintarelli is a legendary family-owned and operated wine estate located in Italy’s Veneto region. The estate traces its roots to the early 1900s when Silvio Quintarelli tended vines as a sharecropper in Figari with his brothers, however Silvio moved to Cerè di Negrar and established his own estate in 1924 which can be considered a more official founding date. By the 1950s, Silvio’s son Giuseppe came into his own as a winemaker and took over the family estate with an immediate mission of tirelessly improving the quality of his wines. It is this Giuseppe whose name today adorns the bottles, and he is largely considered the Father of Amarone which he worked to perfect over a 60 year career.

A staunch traditionalist and perfectionist, Giuseppe’s wines are the benchmark for quality when it comes to Amarone and Valpolicella. At the Quintarelli estate, which consists of about 12 hectares of vineyards, they eschew the use of chemical herbicides and intentionally foster low yields through strict pruning and green harvesting in an effort to bolster quality, not quantity. Harvest is accomplished with multiple passes through the vineyards by plot and variety to ensure all fruit is picked at the most opportune time, and there are very strict standards for how to qualify fruit as acceptable. As an example of how far the Quintarelli family is willing to go, they will not bottle an Amarone in vintages they deem anything but the utmost quality, instead bottling the Rosso del Bepi with declassified fruit. A subset of the Quintarelli’s perfectionism is their patience. Once the wines are transferred to Slavonian oak botti for aging, the Amarone remains for 8 years and the Amarone Riserva for 10 years before they are bottled and released only when ready. Even the Valpolicella Classico Superiore I am reviewing today spends 7 years in oak botti!

Though Giuseppe passed away in 2012 at the age of 84, the Quintarelli estate is managed today by his daughter Fiorenza and son-in-law Giampaolo Grigoli. With the help of their sons Francesco and Lorenzo, Fiorenza and Giampaolo remain steadfast to the traditions and sky-high demands passed down by Giuseppe. Similar to the longevity of their great wines, it appears the Quintarelli estate will remain a family endeavor and benchmark of the region for the years to come.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Valpolicella Classico Superiore

Blend of Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella; 15% ABV

The 2012 Valpolicella Classico Superiore is somewhat translucent medium ruby in color with hues of dark garnet. I decanted this for an hour or two, which helped the nose blossom into aromas of blackberry, plum, prune, black raspberry, licorice, cedar spill, tobacco, mint, savory green herbs, wet rocky earth, and graphite. Moving onto the palate, this rustic and complex Valpolicella displays notes of black cherry, juicy plum, cassis, anise, dried raisin, leather, cigar box, forest floor, slate, eucalyptus, wild herbs, and bitter chocolate. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a long, elegant finish.

In producing this wine, 50% of the grapes are pressed immediately after harvest and 50% are pressed after drying for two months. Following three to four days of maceration, primary fermentation begins using only indigenous yeasts and the wine is racked until February. The second alcoholic fermentation begins after the wine is racked onto the lees, and once complete moves to Slavonian oak barrels for seven years before bottling.

Price: $100 (can probably find closer to $80 in some locations). As with the other Quintarelli wines I’ve enjoyed over the years, I think this is worth every penny. There is a rare level of palpable quality in this wine and the balance, depth, and pure beauty of it did not allow the bottle to last long. If you are new to Quintarelli, I can’t recommend the wines enough.

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