The Oeno File: 2000 Giuseppe Quintarelli Cabernet Alzero

September 2nd, 2011

By Chris Gill

If patience is a virtue, then Giuseppe Quintarelli may well deserve sainthood for his perseverant attention to detail, disciplined, uncompromising quest for utmost quality, and obeisance to the fascinating metamorphosis that his wines undergo as they mature. A true Old World artisan, Quintarelli refuses to release his finest wines until he feels they are ready for consumption. For example, his amazing Amarone della Valpolicella Classico—a truly iconic wine that every serious connoisseur should try at least once—and stunning Cabernet Alzero wines from the 2000 vintage started to finally appear on the market only a few months ago.

Still youthful, Quintarelli’s 2000 Cabernet Alzero is not an instant gratification wine, and it demands the same patience and respect from the drinker as Giuseppe puts into each bottle. Made from old vine Cabernet Franc grapes that undergo the appassimento technique—the same method used for making Amarone, which involves drying the grapes in single layers for 60 to 100 days—Quintarelli Cabernet Alzero is a flamboyant wine that reveals layer upon layer of rich, concentrated flavors that include anise, cassis, dark chocolate, black coffee, fig, plums, and raisin, with a Port-like intensity but no cloying sweetness.

Drinkers would be wise to wait another 9 or 10 years before opening a bottle, but the wine drinks quite nicely today with 8-12 hours of decanting, which allows the complex flavors to unfold and bloom. Plan on spending another four or five hours slowly sipping this wine in the glass to contemplate and analyze its shape-shifting tendencies and discuss this phenomenon with friends. Quintarelli Cabernet Alzero is not a wine to rush through, and if you slow down to savor its nuances it will reward you in an incredibly sublime fashion.