Direct from Giuseppe Quintarelli’s cantina in Negrar, we’ve hand-carried a few bottles of this extraordinary vintage of Recioto della Valpolicella back to our temperature-controlled warehouse in Napa. These are truly collector-quality wines stored in the best condition possible for their entire life — there’s no guessing about the integrity of this wine.
This sweet, passito style of wine is lovingly produced by the Quintarelli family led by the late, great master Giuseppe Quintarelli. Giuseppe’s wines are hands-down the best in the Valpolicella. His grand wines are some of the few on the planet that are well worth the exceptional price tag (though we try to keep them priced fairly).
The Quintarelli Recioto 1997 vintage is a deliciously refined, medium-bodied sweet red wine, showing layers of dark red fruits, tarragon, leather and sweet spices that dance on the tongue. The finish is long and luxurious. Giuseppe’s peerless skill in making grand wines comes through in this wonderful Recioto wine.
How this wine is made: Quintarelli follows local Valpolicella wine making tradition to a T. For Recioto, the “ears” of the grape clusters on the upper shoulders of the bunches are harvested. These are the grapes that get the most sunlight and are the most ripe and have the highest concentration of sugar. Once harvested, the grapes are then placed on straw mats and wooden boxes to allow them to naturally dry and concentrate the sugars (a process called passerillage). Noble rot can start to appear in November, further developing in January until the dried grapes are pressed. The grape must is macerated for 20 days, and then allowed to ferment using natural yeasts for 45 days. The fermented wine is racked and aged for 5 to 6 years in Slavonian oak barrels. While in the barrel, alcoholic fermentation continues but the finished wine remains sweet.
Expected maturity: Now through 2020.
Food pairing: Quintarelli Recioto is a sweet wine that is best savored as a dessert wine on its own. It does pair very well with blue-veined and strong-flavored cheeses like gorgonzola, robiola, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Drizzle it on top of vanilla gelato for a bit of extra decadence.
Visiting Quintarelli: Rumor has it that visiting Quintarelli is tough. Not really, but you definitely need to make a reservation. The family will graciously open up their tasting room for visitors, and they’ll even sell you some of their wines — but be forewarned, Quintarelli wines can be spendy. If you’d like me to help you book a tasting reservation, contact me or send the family an e-mail or call them at +39.0457.513.241.
Cantina Address: Via Cerè 1, Negrar 37024 (VR) Italy. Google Map
Learn More: While Quintarelli does not have a website, my fellow importer Kermit Lynch has a very nice write-up on the Quintarelli family & wines.