Friday, June 18, 2010

Bea and Quintarelli: An Evening to remember

Another remarkable evening at i Trulli took place as we descended on what has become my go-to Italian restaurant in New York City to celebrate with friends and, with a number of stunning top shelf Italian wines. I Trulli’s staff and service was top notch yet again and the food was out of this world. This also gave me a chance to try a few more items off their menu that peaked my interests during my last visit.

Perfection in simplicity is the name of the game here where the best ingredients are assembled by a deft hand in the kitchen and presented beautifully on each plate. It’s such a simple recipe for success that speaks volumes to the forward thinking of i Trulli’s owners and management. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.

However, I must stay on track, as I truly intended this addition to The V.I.P. Table to be about the momentous wines that were opened and enjoyed on this evening. These consisted of two artisanal producers who are considered masters at their craft and producers of reference point wines in their regions.

First, Paolo Bea, a producer of Sagrantino di Montefalco, from the region of Umbria in Italy. Paolo Bea is a strict biodynamic producer, who is proud to use the same traditional methods as taught to him by his father. To Bea, these wines are simple expressions of the land that are fortified through decades of experience in wine making and the inspiration he gains from his family. However, I can guarantee that these wines are anything but simple. Paolo Bea Sagrantino is rich and lush, yet finessed and with the ability to mature for decades. Also not to be missed are the stunning and wonderfully unique white wines and Sangiovese from his estate.

Then there is Quintarelli, “The Master of the Veneto”. Although Giuseppe Quintarelli is no longer heavily involved in the wine making of his estate (due to his age), the decades of vintages he leaves behind will surely live forever. Quintarelli is synonymous with Amarone della Valpolicella, a wine of meditation and reflection. Amarone is known for its intensity and layers of deep rich flavors, but Quintarelli takes it to an entirely different level. The aromatics are often so deep and layered that a glass could be enjoyed without ever sipping it. Once you take that first sip, you are transported to a heaven of flavors and sensations across the palate. It is nearly indescribable but, be warned, it comes at a high price. Once Quintarelli was truly discovered and reached cult status, the prices soared. However, in this taster’s opinion, I feel the experience is worth the price of admission, and the Amarone I tasted on this night, at $550 a bottle, provided an experience that I will never forget.

On to the notes:

The 2003 Paolo Bea, Sagrantino di Montefalco showed a gorgeous deep red crimson color in the glass. As I poured, an aroma of candied cherry filled the air. With a little time in the glass, the rich fruit transformed into a Burgundian expression of red fruit with earth and clay. Dusty dried flowers filled out the bouquet and, as a few tasters noted, hints of sausage, which gave the nose a savory edge. The palate followed suit with flavors of raspberry, coffee, chocolate liquor and old cedar. The finish was long with staying dark chocolate and red fruit. (95 out of 100 points)

What could follow such a wonderful experience with the Sagrantino? The 1995 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva was a dark mahogany color with rich and wild aromas rising from the glass. I found it difficult to take that first sip because the aromatics were so seductive that I simply didn’t want to take my nose from the glass. Black cherry sauce with saw dust were the first aromas to come to mind, followed by butterscotch and hazelnuts, which then turned to spiced ginger cookies and plum reduction. So many layers could be pulled away to continue finding descriptors in this wine, and I was only sad that we didn’t have the time to spend hours with it. On the palate I found a menagerie of red fruits as cherry, then raspberry and cranberry filled the palate. Vanilla and milk chocolate, butter cream and roasted nuts with spicy cedar were also present. However, with all this concentration, the wine remains finessed and fresh on the palate. Its 16.5% alcohol is nearly invisible due to the impeccable balance of this wine. The finish lingered for 30-plus seconds with cherry dark chocolate. (99 out of 100 points)

Lastly, the 1990 Giuseppe Quintarelli, Bianco Amabile del Cere Veneto was the finale of the evening and it was amazing. This was another example of Quintarelli’s ability to make such a rich and intense wine that can be perfectly balanced and fresh on the finish. The color was amber with a hint of orange with aromas of apricot, candied orange rinds, burnt sugar, roasted almond liquor and butter. The palate was intense and expansive with sweet roasted nuts, orange sprits and buttery caramel that goes on and on into the finish. I have officially declared this to be the best sweet wine I have yet tasted. (98 out of 100 points)

Click here to find the 2003 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco on Wine-Searcher.
Click here to find the
1995 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone Riserva on Wine-Searcher.
Click here to find the
1990 Giuseppe Quintarelli, Bianco Amabile del Cere on Wine-Searcher.

For another take on this amazing evening, I urge you to check out Vigna Uva Vino. It's a great wine blog by, fellow writer and good friend, Dave Trieger.


  1. Great write up! Loved it all, but especially your notes on the Bianco Amabile del Cere Veneto. I am on the hunt!

  2. Happy "Bea" lated birthday, Eric. Good to see you in NYC, oh, but briefly. Enjoy the wining and dining this summer. All the best, Dan


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