Quintarelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Wine Tasting

Friday, May 20, 2022 - 07:30 PM

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“In wine there is truth”
 Roman Proverb

Wine is one of those things that brings me back to a place in time and I remember the first time I tasted a wine from Quintarelli.  Toni and I were up in Washington DC and it was the day before we got married.  We were out to dinner at a famous Italian restaurant in DC which the name now escapes me, but I ordered my favorite wine at that time or one that I just loved to say, Braida Barbera Bricco Dell Uccellone.  The sommelier informed me that this wine was not available and recommended the 1990 Quintarelli Valpolicella.  If he had not brought the bottle to the table, I may have continued my search on the wine list but the hand-written label intrigued me and I went with his suggestion.

I knew Valpolicella as a simple wine, one that was the entry level into wines from this famous wine region near Verona, the home of one of the world's largest wine fairs, Vin Italy.  One smell of this wonderful elixir and I was hooked, the bouquet of dried flowers, meats, that play dough/clay like minerality that complimented the tart red cherry fruit was complex and unique.  I remember thinking of what an interesting wine this was, and it was like nothing that I had ever had before from Valpolicella or anywhere else.

When I got home to Fort Lauderdale, I found who the US importer was and contacted them in hopes of obtaining everything that I could from Giuseppe Quintarelli.  The importer at that time was Robert Chadderdon and his representative here in South Florida was Bill Pelzer.  Bill informed me politely that I would have to take a selection of wines from their portfolio just to get a few cases of the Valpolicella and that if I wanted to get some Amarone it may take a little while and a lot more cases of Chadderdon wines in the store.

That was 20+ years ago and today the Wine Watch no longer has one of the best selections of Quintarelli wines in the United States but we still give our wine drinking people a chance to taste these legendary wines once a year at our annual Quintarelli tasting.
The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $595 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com.

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Quintarelli Wine Tasting - The Godfather of Verona
Friday May 20th
2006 Quintarelli Rosso Ca Del Merlo (Magnum)
1993 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
1997 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
1998 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
2004 Quintarelli Amarone Della Valpolicella
2009 Quintarelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Riserva
1986 Quintarelli Recioto Della Valpolicella
2004 Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella
2007 Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella 375ml
2007 Quintarelli Amabile de Cere Bandito Passito Bianco 375ml
Cheese and Charcuterie Selection
Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Cherry Pie Sauce
Foie Gras Torchon with Blackberry jam and Hummus fries
Amarone Braised Pork Belly over Black Risotto
Chocolate covered Bacon and Blackberries

The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $595 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions when you make your reservations and chef Toni will be happy to accommodate you.


A bit about Giuseppe Quintarelli - The Godfather of the Veneto

Known as “The Master of the Veneto,” Giuseppe Quintarelli makes some of the world’s most sought-after wines. From aperitifs to digestifs, his limited production Amarones, Reciotos, and Valpolicellas are the benchmark for excellence. Their greatness stems from the inherent quality of the terroir and natural talent of this master, whose concept of vintage approval and strict grape selection rival great Chateau of Sauternes.  Quintarelli makes stunning wines in average vintages by hand picking everything and making severe selections- sometimes going cluster by cluster and selecting each individual berry!

Giuseppe puts his wines on the market when he deems them ready, often keeping them in the cellar for decades until the right moment arrives.  Quintarelli Produces around 2,500 cases of Valpolicella, 850 cases of Amarone and 300 cases of Recioto.  Valpolicella is a terroir with a long history.  It has weathered difficult times and has now been saved by the commitment of a large number of young producers, and the example of a great one, Guiseppe Quintarelli.  Giuseppe’s winery, situated at Negrar on the gentile Valpolicella hills, has 12 hectares of vineyards at an average altitude of 240 meters above sea level.  Some of the grapes are brought in bringing the average annual production up to 50-60,000 bottles.  In the best years, Giuseppe Quintarelli makes an Amarone Riserva, and of course 1990 was no exception.  Before release, this seriously good wine spent ten years ageing in Slavonian oak barrels.  The deep garnet hue is appealing and there are sweet cocoa powder and ripe berry fruit on the nose.  The palate is generous with plums, fruit liqueur and coffee in a harmonious, lingering profile.  The Alzero, made from raisined Cabernet Franc grapes is deep ruby red and proffers aromas of red peppers, vegetables and tobacco on the nose.  The palate has remarkable finesse and hints of cocoa, morello cherries, pepper and pencil lead create a very stylish, bitter-sweet effect.  The fresh-tasting nicely rounded Valpolicella has hints of aromatic herbs, cherry fruit and liquorice, as well as good extract.

According to archaeological evidence vines were growing in the Valpolicella area some 40 million years ago, but winemaking probably came about around the 5th century BC somewhere that is now referred to as Fumane, the home of one of the most famous Amarone producers, Allegrini.  This wine was referred to as Retico and came from the county of Catullus, Verona.  Late in the Roman period the name Retico changed to Acinatico.    Cassiodoro, a famous Italian minister to the Ostrogoth king Theodoric, has been quoted making reference to Acinato:  “It has a pure and exceptional taste and a regal color, so that you may believe either that purple got its colour from the wine or that the wine is the epitome of purple.  Its sweetness is of incredible gentleness, its density is accompanied by an indescribable stability and it swells over the tongue in such a way that it seems either a liquid made of solid flesh or else a drink to be eaten.”

Valpolicella, according to some accounts, means “valley of many cellars,” which seems fitting.  It is derived, they say, from the Greek word poli (many) and the Latin cella (cellar).   This area is approximately 27 miles long and 5 miles wide, it passes north and west of Verona, extending from the Adige River to the Cazzano Valley.  Bardolino and Lake Garda lie to the west and Soave to the east.  The land ranges in altitude from 490 to 1,475 feet above sea level.  The vines in the classico district to the northwest of Verona, are planted on the hillsides and mountain slopes of the valleys of the Adige tributaries and the Fumane, Marano, and Negrar torrents.  Some of the vineyards are terraced with stone.  The cretaceous, calcareous soil is of glacial origins.  And volcanic activity in this area contributed elements to the soil as well.  

The area around Sant’Ambrogio is considered the heart of the Amarone production zone.  Within this area, northeast of Gargagnago, is a valley called Vaio Armaron, which may have given the wine its name.   The blend of grapes typically used in Valpolicella is Corvina (40%-70%), Rondinella (20%-40%), Molinara (5%-25%) and may contain up to 15% Negrara Trentina, Rossignola, Dindarella, Barbera, and/or Sangiovese.  Before 1989 producers were allowed to add as much as 15% of grapes, must, or wine from outside the zone to correct problems from a weak vintage, but this practice is prohibited today.  Corvina contributes color, body, bouquet, flavor, and the basic Valpolicella character to the wine.   Rondinella, which is resistant to disease and rot, is added for its color and strength, tannin and vigor, it also adds some refinement to the azromas.  Molinara, or Mulinara, is also known as Rossara Veronese and Rossanella, is blended in to make the wine lighter and more drinkable.  It also contributes dryness and acidity, as well as that characteristic bitterness.  Negrara, adds softness, freshness and early drinkability.

The first dry Amarone, according to writer Cesare Marchi, was the result of a fortunate accident.  In the early 1950s, Adelino Lucchese, Bertani’s cellarmaster, discovered a barrel of wine in the cellar that had been overlooked and neglected for some time.  Certain that it had spoiled he was about to discard its contents, when curiosity prompted him to take a taste just to see what had happened.  He was astonished to discover that the forgotten wine had a velvety texture and a penetrating perfume, a slightly bitter taste, but not at all unpleasant.  There is however evidence that the Romans made a type of bitter Recioto for diabetics or other people who couldn’t take sugar.  Sandro Boscaini of Masi pointed out that some of the oldest families in Valpolicella, the Count Campostrini and Count Serego Alighieri, as well as his own produced an Amaro, a dry Recioto.  This would seem to indicate that Amarone is considerably older that Marchi admits.  According to another book called Valpolicella Spolendida Contea Dei Vino, written by Lamberto Paronetto, the name Amarone has been in use since the eighteenth century.  It became popular at the beginning of this century and the name could very well be derived from the Italian word amaro, meaning “bitter” (scholar Scipione Maffei, writing in the first half of the eighteenth century, refers to an amaro, a dry wine from the Valpolicella area), or it could come from Vajo Armaron, where some highly regarded Amarones have been produced for ages.