Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2011
“The 2011 Valpolicella Classico Superiore saw seven months of slow and careful aging in botte grande before being deemed ready for the market. The wine takes a little coaxing before it fully opens, and it requires a few extra vigorous swirls of the glass before it begins to reveal earthy tones of baked brick and potting soil. However, the core of the wine is definitely packed tight with blackberry and ripe plum. The hot vintage has shaped a wine with extra volume and textural richness (with 15% alcohol). Drink: 2019-2032. 91 points
Tasting wines correctly at the Quintarelli family winery is not as straightforward as it could be, and my belief is that the wines suffer because of it. The process is weighed down by tradition and folklore (for example, the late Giuseppe Quintarelli reportedly didn’t approve of visitors spitting his wines) that is practiced at the winery today as a way of keeping his memory and presence alive. The setup involves dim lighting, small and thick glasses, no spit bucket and tiny pours from half-full bottles. Having experienced this in the past, I brought my own tasting glass with me to the winery this time. I was happily surprised when Lorenzo, Giuseppe’s grandson who was pouring for me, asked if I wanted to taste in a more appropriate stem instead of the heavy glass his grandfather loved. I never had to pull out the Riedel wrapped in cloth in my purse. A spit bucket also appeared by request, and I was able to obtain slightly larger pour sizes with a little extra coxing. I can report that things have improved since my last visit the year before, although they could be better still. In complete honesty, I can say that tasting at Quintarelli is a source of some frustration for me. However, the wines themselves are a delight.
Today, the Quintarelli family (Giuseppe’s daughter Fiorenza, her husband Giampaolo with sons Francesco and Lorenzo) farm 12 hectares of vines on limestone and basalt soils between the property adjacent to the winery and other plots in the surrounding hills. Most of the vineyard land was purchased by Giuseppe Quintarelli, but the house and winery were acquired by his father. The Quintarellis worked with consulting enologist Roberto Ferrarini (who passed away in 2014), and the stunning 2007 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (reviewed here) is dedicated to him.
The winemaking process for Amarone is simple. The best clusters are selected during harvest and left to dry on wooden boxes or mats. Noble rot starts to appear in November and develops carefully until January of the following year. After appassimento, the dehydrated grapes are pressed at the end of January and undergo 20 days of skin contact with alcoholic fermentation on ambient yeasts. The entire fermentation lasts 45 days, and the wine is then racked into Slavonian oak casks for seven years, slowly concluding alcoholic fermentation during aging, thus resulting a dry wine.
The wines are sold according to market demand, so there are no official release dates or schedules. When stock sells out, the family moves more wine from barrel to bottle accordingly. The Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is only made in the best years, and when it is not produced, the family opts to make Rosso del Bepi instead. In terms of the current and upcoming releases, we have the following wines to look forward to: the 2008 vintage went to Rosso del Bepi, the 2009 vintage is Amarone, the difficult 2010 vintage is Rosso del Bepi and the 2011 vintage is Amarone.”
Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (244)