Polenta Alla Griglia
Grilled polenta, topped with sautéed oyster mushrooms, shallots in a white wine sauce
We applauded Howard’s selection of wines from Giuseppe Quintarelli when he unveiled them. After drinking them we gave him a well-deserved ovation.
The Quintarelli estate produces only 40,000 bottles of wine annually from 35 acres of estate vines and bought-in grapes and dates back to 1924. The late, great Maestro del Veneto, Giuseppe Quintarelli, began working his father’s estate in 1950 and succeeded in establishing a legendary estate during his sixty-year career. Sadly he passed away in 2012. Today the estate continues under the direction of Giuseppe’s daughter Fiorenza, his son-in-law Giampaolo, and his grandsons Francesco and Lorenzo. Quintarelli wines are quite special and have always reflected his philosophy of never hurrying the wine making process. He was quoted, “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.”
2014 Giuseppe Quintarelli Secco Ca’ del Merlo Bianco. The only white Quintarelli makes at it is superb. The wine is a 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 was perfectly balanced and pure on the palate. The mid-palate displayed wonderful complexity before finishing with considerable length. $45. Wine-Searcher.
2001 Giuseppe Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore. I have had many bottles of Valpolicella from numerous vintages and each has been classic Quintarelli, displaying a spectacular and enticing earthy bouquet on the nose. On the palate the fruit was bright yielding a lush, ripe and balanced palate. The wine finished with elegance and finesse. $90. This vintage does not appear to be available. Other vintages are if you check Wine-Searcher.
1986 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso Ca’ del Merlo (House of the Blackbird). While information as to why the wine is called Rosso Ca’ del Merlo seems to be a bit unclear, rest assured it is a fantastic Valpolicella from the estate. I have been told from a reliable source it is the same Valpolicella from the same vineyard he produces his Valpolicella from. According to him the Rosso Ca' Del Merlo labeling is to signify that it was produced for an old US importer, to show a distinction with what the rest of the world was buying and what he was getting. $120. Wine-Searcher.
Another source says that it is a Valpolicella named after a plot of land where a large Merlo (blackbird) sat perched on a tree overlooking the hillside. It differs from the regular Valpolicella only in that the grapes come from this one specific site and thus the terroir and its influence on the wine are unique. According to current importer Kermit Lynch, he writes on his website of the wine:
• A single vineyard bottling
• Grapes are pressed immediately after harvest
• After 3-4 days of maceration, primary fermentation starts with indigenous yeasts
• Wine is racked and then sits until February
• Wine is racked onto the lees of the Amarone, which starts a second alcoholic fermentation (this process is called ripasso)
• after this fermentation, the wine is racked into large Slavonian oak barrels for seven years
Whatever the case this bottle was singing tonight. It possessed a beautiful pureness, balance and complexity on the palate marked by lush fruit. The lengthy finish echoed the palate.
1999 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi. Rosso del Bepi 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. The wine soared from the glass, tantalized the palate with its lush, pure fruit and finished with great length. $170. Wine-Searcher.
1993 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. A simply round and delicious wine with lots of soul. Quintarelli’s ability to integrate the underlying sweetness of Amarone in these wines is just amazing. Balanced, pure, complex and with a remarkable finish it is a wine you think about for days after drinking. $395. Wine-Searcher.
1994 Giuseppe Quintarelli Alzero. This final wine of the evening is, in my opinion, one of the great wines of all time. It is impossible to describe this wine other than to say it is completely round and delicious. The wine is made from predominantly Cabernet Franc and in the same method used to make Amarone, in which the grapes are dried for several months prior to vinification. The resulting wine is unbelievably rich in color and ethereal on the palate. It is a wine that provides a provocative wine tasting experience. I have had the 1996 and 1997 vintages of this wine and each is superb. Alas greatness does not come without a price. $395. Wine-Searcher.