Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi 1999 (Veneto, Italy)
15%, Cork, $270+
Source: Dinner companion
I tried this wine just weeks after that fateful first encounter with a Quintarelli. As a result, when this lobbed on the table I was excited. Not quite misty eyes excited but at least a little jittery with anticipation. Excited, but also half expecting a disappointment – could it really match the Amarone or was this another one-off cult hero?
No disappointment here though. Just glory. Complex, intense, layered glory. That’s of little surprise when I discovered that this is essentially a declassified Amarone, a wine produced in those years when (the late) Giuseppe Quintarelli decreed that the wine didn’t quite make the Amarone grade. The IGT labelling is a nod to the declassification even though it could qualify as an Amarone under normal labelling laws.
The blend here mirrors the ‘standard’ Quintarelli Amarone too, being a blend of primarily Corvina and Rondinella, with smaller portions of Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Croatina, Molinara and Negrara.
This is no ‘standard’ wine though, spending 7 years in oak, an ageing period which is unheard of even amongst most ‘normal’ Amarones. It is, for all intensive purposes, 99% a Quintarelli Amarone, just at less than half the price. And my lord is it a cracking wine.
Even at 13 years of age it is still such a blindingly youthful wine. There is an evolved, Cabernet meets Amarone nose here that combines the warm (perhaps a little too warm) rich, fruit cake and leather of air dried Corvina and Rondinella but with a cedary, cassis and cigar box aromatic vitality to it that is pure Claret. The palate too is all contrasts, drying fruit and drying tannins but of a shape that again seems more lively and leafy and fresh and pure than I expect to see in Amarone. It’s like a middle aged classed growth has met a Amarone and a Super Tuscan (one of the less oaky ones) and they have had a threesome. A sensual threesome at that…
Entrancing, beguiling, intense and just plain wonderful wine. Yes. Yes yes. Yes yes yes.
Would I buy it? Dear Santa, I’ve been good this year, could you put one of these in my stocking?