Amarone della Valpolicella DOP Classico by Giuseppe Quintarelli
An almost mythical producer, the name Quintarelli stands as a byword for the most exalted and extraordinary achievements in Amarone winemaking. Only wine which reaches their meticulous and exacting standards gets their name put on it – there have been many years from which they refused to release a vintage as the wine wasn’t up to snuff. When they do release a vintage it’s an event, and the wine invariable becomes a cult favourite, with the very limited number of bottles the subject of intense demand. As befits this most mysterious of the old school Amarone makers, they don’t even have a website, and not an enormous amount is known about their production, but then again, why should it? This is wine that really speaks for itself. A true Amarone legend.
Winemaking: relatively early harvest of grapes hand-selected with extreme care. Left out to dry in the most minimally-interventionist manner before slow fermentation and ageing in traditional Slavonian oak botti for up to seven years.
Assemblage: corvina 55%, rondinella 25%, cabernet sauvignon 15%, nebbiolo 5%, croatina 5%, sangiovese 5%.
Soil: mostly calcareous and basaltic soils
Colour: translucent purplish red, profound depth and garnet rim.
Aroma: extraordinary, ethereal, heady and haunting berry and forest floor aromas, crunchy redcurrants mix with dark cherries and soft plums, with parma violets, rosewater, and a distinct minty edge (probably derived from the unusually high percentage of cabernet sauvignon).
Palate: a huge, substantial wine of real heft, but also real finesse, elegance and subtlety. Enormous fruit character, but it’s the amazing aromatics which really linger on the palate, from cranberries to mint chocolate, figs to tobacco leaf, Maraschino to musky mahogany, not to mention cigar box, black coffee, cocoa powder, hazelnuts…this list could go on and on, and it’s all backed up by firm but velvety tannins and really surprising, mouth-filling acidity. Absolutely extraordinary.
Ageability: a true superstar that will go on and on as the decades proceed, developing even more nuances and subtleties. Wine that will reward patience and care in the cellar.
Pairing: hard to really think of a food pairing that would be better than simply drinking it, on its own, very slowly, in a quasi-meditative state.