If you are new to the revered reds of Quintarelli, you are in for a treat: there is nothing else quite like them in the world. Whether you’re in Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, or Piemonte, the nectar in your glass was made by growing, harvesting, and sorting grapes, followed by pressing, fermenting, and aging the fresh juice in some kind of vessel. These steps are pretty much the same everywhere. By contrast, to make Amarone, the Quintarelli family, and their peers in the Valpolicella region east of Lake Garda in northern Italy, follow an ancient winemaking method whereby they air-dry some grapes after harvest and before fermentation. During this process, called appassimento, the fruit loses up to 40% of its water content, leaving the remaining juice more concentrated. If elegance is the goal, this step is the equivalent of moving from the three-point line to half-court or even farther back to try and make a shot: for all but the most talented, it is impossible to both follow this style and craft gorgeous, balanced wines. But when a star steps up and succeeds, the result is all the more mesmerizing. Vintage after vintage, Quintarelli—the region’s most storied producer—succeeds in making simultaneously powerful, finessed, and kaleidoscopic reds. The results are delicious and mind-bending, and they stand tall among the world’s most exquisite and memorable wines.
This red is the exception to the rule at Quintarelli. It is aged for only two to three years—as opposed to seven—and only the Cabernet is partially dried. The Corvina and Corvinone are pressed directly after harvest. The resulting Primofiore, which translates to “first flower” because it is the youngest red-wine release every year, is the freshest rosso of the bunch.
Of the Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella grapes, 50% are pressed directly after harvest, and 50% are left out to air-dry for two months. The combined juice then ages for seven years—much longer than average—in large Slavonian oak barrels, resulting in a complex, graceful Valpolicella.
The process for this red is the same as that for the Valpolicella. The additions of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Croatina in this bottling make it a more fruit-driven counterpart to the earthy, spicy Valpolicella.
Take Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot and pass them through the life cycle of Quintarelli’s Amarone technique, and you have a Bordeaux blend like you have never tasted before. Deep, regal, and unforgettable. Drink now or in five decades.
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