The new Quintarelli cellar. A preview visit
By Monica Sommacampagna
There is something new in Valpolicella today, well, actually something very old. This is how we could sum up a visit to Quintarelli, the historic winery in the Verona wine region, which has renovated its cellar, but not its nonconformist spirit. “We started renovating three years ago in a contemporary style that highlights our past,” Francesco Quintarelli, Giuseppe’s grandson, told us. “The work might even be finished in 2017.” And although the terrace with glass railings giving a full panoramic view is being completed today, during the visit we find an old history still to be discovered. The best time to visit is between October and January, when you can see the drying rooms.
From an avenue of olive trees to an expanse of vineyards
Coming from Verona, take the second exit at the roundabout towards Negrar, and you come to the Cerè district. There are no signs for the Quintarelli winery, on Mount Ca’ Paletta: after several turnings, the only clue is an open gate on the left and an avenue lined with olive trees. It is a deliberate decision, for a character that never wanted to attract attention, explains Francesco. Giuseppe Quintarelli was humble, but nonetheless determined. After the First World War, his father Silvio went from farming a plot of land as a sharecropper in Marano to working for himself in Cerè di Negrar.
The Pergola Veronese and Guyot training systems
Giuseppe took over the estate in 1950 and began renovating and expanding the winery. From the terrace, Francesco points out the vineyards on the left: 11 hectares mainly with the Pergola Veronese training system on calcareous-basaltic soils for traditional grape varieties such as Corvina, Corvinone or Rondinella, the basis for Valpolicella DOC, and some very old ones such as Saorin. The rest are Guyot trained, for varieties such as Cabernet franc, Merlot or Syrah.
The new Quintarelli cellar: a wealth of large oval barrels
The steps lead us to the lower floor and the elegant barrel room, lit up to great effect, revealing a wealth of large oval barrels, including the 120-hectolitre one carved with peacocks and a cross, dedicated to Giuseppe Quintarelli, highlighting his values, religion and work. A concrete tunnel, decorated with historic bottles from old vintages, leads us to a collection of mostly large barrels and photos of the Quintarelli family. The tasting room, on the other hand, is just how I left it about fifteen years ago, when Giuseppe was there: a tribute to his memory.
Pure Valpolicella, sip after sip
The bottles lined up on the table bear handwritten captions from many years ago. But the eyes and palate turn to their content: a tasting from Valpolicella to Recioto, via Amarone. The meticulous work in the vineyard and ageing in large barrels without using barriques to preserve the varietal aromas to the full are appreciated in the mouth and reveal a consistent sensory bouquet that unfolds with time from the youngest wine to the longest-lived one.
Primofiore, Alzero and Amabile del Cerè
Quintarelli has very long ageing in its genes and applies it to its wines, eight years for the Amarone, today we can taste the 2007 vintage. The Recioto 2004 is a triumph of dates and tamarind, with excellent length. Among the other wines to be tasted are the Primofiore and Alzero, made from dried Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. The historic wines iinclude the white Amabile del Cerè, a rarity of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Saorin grapes that can only be drunk in wine shops and restaurants.
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