About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quintessential Quintarelli

It had been a couple of months since our wine group met for dinner.  We rectified that last evening with a delightful dinner and some spectacular wines at one of our favorite stops, The Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ.  The wine service, under the direction of Wine Director Brian Hider, is always superb.  Brian maintains one of the best and most reasonably priced wine cellars of any restaurant in New Jersey.  He is also accommodating to wine groups such as ours by allowing us to bring in our own wines for these type dinners.  Brian we all thank you once again.

It was Emil's  turn to provide the wine, and boy did he do it in spades with five bottles of wines from Giuseppe Quintarelli.  There is a reason the photo on the right side of this page is of me with Quintarelli.  In my opinion his wines are simply in a class by themselves.  They are my “dessert island” wines.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Quintarelli estate and meeting the man himself in March of 2007 along with three wine loving friends. It remains one of my fondest wine memories. I was in awe of the humble and gentle nature of the man and the simplicity of his estate. He set his standards very high and rigidly adhered to them and as a result all of the wines he put his name on provide an incredible wine tasting experience. He was emphatic about the art of wine and that it cannot be manufactured in a lab. He was quoted as saying, “The fundamental problem in wine today is that too many producers ‘hurry’ to make their wines: they hurry the fruit in the vineyard and they hurry the vinification and rush to bottle. They rush to sell their product without allowing it the proper time to age. Patience – this is the most important attribute in winemaking. Patience in growing, patience in selection, and patience in vinification.” This is the essence of Quintarelli. While there was concern about the estate after he passed away in January of 2012, the estate is back on track and in what appears to be the very capable hands of his grandson Francesco.

The wines of Quintarelli do not come cheaply, but then very few things of exceptional quality do. Drinking these wines is always an experience, and for someone trying them for the first time, it may very well seem like a life changing experience, at least as it relates to wine.  Every wine they make is impeccably balanced and focused.  They are completely round and delicious.

2011 Quintarelli Secco Ca del Merlo Bianco Veronese.  The only white wine Quintarelli makes, it is an artful blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin (believed to be a clone of the Tokay grape and meaning "flavor" in Veronese dialect).  The wine leaped from the glass with an enticing floral bouquet and a brisk and round palate.  Like all Quintarelli wines, it continued to evolve in the glass and it finished with considerable length.  $48.  Wine Searcher.

1994 Quintarelli Ca’ del Merlo Rosso.  Rosso Ca’ del Merlo (or house of the blackbird) relies upon the same varietal composition as the Valpolicella (Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella) made through the ripasso method. One difference is the Ca’ del Merlo is aged longer in large wood vessels and comes from a hilltop single vineyard. While balanced, complex and pure on the palate, the fruit has begun to wane.  In my opinion it is time to drink this up.

2002 Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi.  This wine is only made in vintages when Giuseppe feels that the grapes do not meet his strict standards to be labeled Amarone. Thus he declassifies the wine and calls it Rosso di Bepi. It is in fact his Amarone at ½ the price.  It is an amazing wine, lacking only some of the richness one finds in his Amarone.  This bottle was outstanding with a gorgeous earthy bouquet that flowed from the glass energizing the senses to what you were about to taste.  On the palate it displayed that impeccable balance of alcohol and pure fruit that is the trademark of Quintarelli wines.  Its 45 second finish left me smacking my lips.  Truly a wine with soul!  $190.  Wine Searcher.

2003 Quintarelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico.  While I have this vintage in my cellar, this was my first taste of the wine.  It was classic Quintarelli Amarone.  The fruit soared from the glass with great finesse and focus.  It is very hard to describe these wines other than to say they are delicious and an unbelievable wine drinking experience. In my opinion the Quintarelli Amarone, both the classico and riserva, set the standard for this type of wine. $340.  Wine Searcher.

2001 Quintarelli Alzero.  Made from predominantly Cabernet Franc in the “Amarone” style, this is quite simply one of the greatest wine accomplishments of the world.  I have been fortunate to taste a number of vintages of the wine, and each one leaves me breathless as this one did tonight.  It is impossible to describe the magnificence of this wine.  Each sip evolves and soars from the glass and then dances on the palate before finishing with ridiculous length and elegance.  It must be tasted to appreciate it.  I guarantee that one sip will dazzle your senses.  The only negative is the $400+ price tag.   Wine Searcher.

Thank you again Emil for your generosity in bringing these remarkable wines to dinner.  It was a most memorable evening.



  1. Fantastic line-up, Mark. Best wishes to Emil ... cheers

  2. Thanks Steve, will pass your comment along to Emil.