2015 Quintarelli Primofiore

Year: 2015
Appellation: Veneto
Country: Italy
Wine Advocate: 90
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
Price :
$49.95
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50% Corvina and Corvinone, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc

"This is the most accessible and fresh red wine in the greater Giuseppe Quintarelli portfolio. The 2015 Primofiore is a blend of equal parts indigenous grapes (Corvina and Corvinone) and French grapes (Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc). Those four varieties come together with harmony to create a fresh entry-level wine that is redolent of dark fruit, wild berry and plum. This vintage shows a very happy and sunny disposition, despite the ease and informality of the fruit.

Tasting wines correctly at the Quintarelli family winery is not as straightforward as it could be, and my belief is that the wines suffer because of it. The process is weighed down by tradition and folklore (for example, the late Giuseppe Quintarelli reportedly didn't approve of visitors spitting his wines) that is practiced at the winery today as a way of keeping his memory and presence alive. The setup involves dim lighting, small and thick glasses, no spit bucket and tiny pours from half-full bottles. Having experienced this in the past, I brought my own tasting glass with me to the winery this time. I was happily surprised when Lorenzo, Giuseppe's grandson who was pouring for me, asked if I wanted to taste in a more appropriate stem instead of the heavy glass his grandfather loved. I never had to pull out the Riedel wrapped in cloth in my purse. A spit bucket also appeared by request, and I was able to obtain slightly larger pour sizes with a little extra coxing. I can report that things have improved since my last visit the year before, although they could be better still. In complete honesty, I can say that tasting at Quintarelli is a source of some frustration for me. However, the wines themselves are a delight.

Today, the Quintarelli family (Giuseppe's daughter Fiorenza, her husband Giampaolo with sons Francesco and Lorenzo) farm 12 hectares of vines on limestone and basalt soils between the property adjacent to the winery and other plots in the surrounding hills. Most of the vineyard land was purchased by Giuseppe Quintarelli, but the house and winery were acquired by his father. The Quintarellis worked with consulting enologist Roberto Ferrarini (who passed away in 2014), and the stunning 2007 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (reviewed here) is dedicated to him.

The winemaking process for Amarone is simple. The best clusters are selected during harvest and left to dry on wooden boxes or mats. Noble rot starts to appear in November and develops carefully until January of the following year. After appassimento, the dehydrated grapes are pressed at the end of January and undergo 20 days of skin contact with alcoholic fermentation on ambient yeasts. The entire fermentation lasts 45 days, and the wine is then racked into Slavonian oak casks for seven years, slowly concluding alcoholic fermentation during aging, thus resulting a dry wine.

The wines are sold according to market demand, so there are no official release dates or schedules. When stock sells out, the family moves more wine from barrel to bottle accordingly. The Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is only made in the best years, and when it is not produced, the family opts to make Rosso del Bepi instead. In terms of the current and upcoming releases, we have the following wines to look forward to: the 2008 vintage went to Rosso del Bepi, the 2009 vintage is Amarone, the difficult 2010 vintage is Rosso del Bepi and the 2011 vintage is Amarone." (WA)

Winery Notes:
The first flower is the only red wine at Quintarelli that does not employ dried grapes or the ripasso technique. It is also the youngest red wine released by the estate every year.

After harvest, grapes left in wooden boxes to continue ripening

After pressing and fermentation, wine is aged for several years in Slavonian oak barrels