Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2011
2009 not reviewed yet, for reference the 2007 review
97 points - Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, August 2019
The previous vintages of the wine immediately preceding this one are 2003 and 2000. Jump forward in time, and the 2007 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva will linger on the market for a while because the estate has not yet decided which vintage will be next, but as a rule of thumb, the Riserva is only made two or maybe three times per decade. Only 5,838 bottles of this wine were produced. I'm told that the 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintages are all very strong contenders for Riserva status. In any case, this is the last Riserva to be made in Giuseppe Quintarelli's lifetime (he passed away in 2012). One of the criteria that makes a Riserva is the appassimento process that is extended by a couple of months here. This wine boasts 17% alcohol, and that enormous inner power is ultimately what drives this wine. That motor is enhanced by rich fullness, dense texture and beautifully balanced aromas of dried fruit, exotic spice, cigar box and moist potting soil. The quality of the aromas is absolutely clear and pristine, and the tannins have been softened into absolutely silkiness.
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
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