Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva DOP Classico 2003 by Quintarelli
Some vintages are universally terrific, handing out their bounty in equal handfuls to every grower – and indeed some are universally mean, egalitarian in the meagreness of the gifts they begrudge to all. Some vintages however are profoundly variegated, with some wineries for whatever reason flourishing while others struggle, and 2003 was a profound example. While the extremely hot weather was difficult for many, Quintarelli’s vineyards flourished because of their altitude, cooling down at night and ensuring wonderful acidity and a long ripening period. If there’s any vintage which shows off Quintarelli’s particular genius, it is this.
Winemaking: incredibly careful grape selection, and if insufficient bunches qualify the wine doesn’t get made. The grapes in the fruttaio are encouraged to develop noble botrytis as well as drying out, to further encourage sugar concentration. The grapes are then crushed, fermented for a rather long 45 days, then placed into medium-small Slavonian oak barrels to age for an astonishing ten years.
Assemblage: corvina 55%, rondinella 25%, nebbiolo, sangiovese and croatina 15%.
Colour: purplish, but now with profound rose-petal tinges.
Aroma: gentle, enveloping, layered, yielding, remarkably fresh fruit but now giving real depth and astonishing variety, from cacao to cigar box, balsamic to rosewater, clove to to pink peppercorn. Extraordinary.
Palate: full but exceptionally soft, beautifully integrated tannins, notable freshness, elevated fruit and spice and a very long finish indeed.
Ageability: coming up to 20 years after harvest and 10 since bottling, this wine is, incredibly enough, still growing, still changing, and still approaching its absolute peak.