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2005 Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Quintarelli
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The estate of Giuseppe Quintarelli, located in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy produces Valpolicellas, Reciotos and Amarones that are revered by oenophiles all over the world. The estate dates back to 1924 and but it was Giuseppe Quintarelli (known as Bepi, in charge from the mid-1950s until his death in 2012) who drove its success. In an era that emphasized mass production over attention to detail, Quintarelli made wines without compromise, with labour-intensive methods and painstaking attention in the vineyard.
Giuseppe established the winery as the source of the most traditional styles of Amarone, ageing it for seven years in Slavonian oak; the result is one of the most complex wines produced in Italy.Quintarelli wines are still the unmatched benchmark for Amarone.
Even though he is traditional in his Amarone production, it does not follow that Giuseppe is afraid of innovation. As well as the excellent Amarone, he produces an excellent dry white wine called Bianco Secco and a flamboyant, but powerful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Corvina labelled Primo Fiore and sought after as any cult Cabernet.
Giuseppe’s daughter, Fiorenza, her husband, Giampaolo Grigoli, and their children Francesco and Lorenzo, are currently involved in running the winery.
Corvina is widely grown on the Veneto shore of Lake Garda and the hills of Valpolicella to the north and north-east of Verona. Sometimes known as Corvina Veronese, it is blended with Rondinella and Molinara to produce Valpolicella and Bardolino. It can be a tricky grape to cultivate, as it ripens late and is prone to rot if affected by rains at harvest time. It is a high-yielding grape and quality is very dependent on keeping yields low.
Corvina-based red wines can range in style from a light, cherryish red to the rich, port-like Recioto and Amarone Valpolicellas. Most Valpolicella from the plains is pale and insipid, and bears little comparison with Valpolicella Classico from the hills. Some producers such as Allegrini are now producing very high quality 100% Corvina wines.
Valpollicella is a famous (and infamous) Venetian wine DOC north of Verona producing enormous amounts of red wine of variable quality and accounting for almost 7% of the Veneto's entire production.
Valpolicella Classico covers the original zone, an area drastically enlarged with the granting of DOC status in 1968 (energetically encouraged by the large, local co-operatives) to encompass the fertile plains as well as the superior Lessini Mountain foothills. After opening the floodgates to gallons of poor quality Valpolicella, steps have more recently been taken to redress the quality issue, notably through the removal of Molinara from the list of permissible grape varieties. Only Corvina Veronese and Corvinone can now be used, along with a small percentage of Rondinella and Croatina.
The wines are aged in large oak vessels or stainless-steel vats for no more than a year, thus retaining the fresh, approachable, black cherry fruit that can make them so attractive. While Valpolicella (and even Classico) may be light and relatively simple, Valpolicella Ripasso is altogether richer and more satisfying. Matured on Amarone lees, it begins like a slightly less full-bodied version of Amarone before finishing on a sweet, Recioto-like note.
Valpolicella Ripasso is an increasingly popular style of Valpolicella that is produced by passing Valpolicella ‘normale’ or Classico over the still warm Amarone grape pomace in early spring after the Amarone wine has been run off. This effects a second alcoholic fermentation in the Valpolicella and gives the resulting wine more body, texture and alcohol.