What is there to say about Quintarelli? Isn’t it enough just to say the name itself? Valpolicella’s answer to Alfredo Prunotto or Domaine Romanée-Conti, Quintarelli is arguably the first and last word in the region, the flag-carrier of Amarone, and the area’s most powerful claim to first-rank worth and prestige in the area.
It all started in 1924, when Silvio Quintarelli, who had been cultivating vines in a mezzadria (a form of sharecropping) elsewhere in Valpolicella, founded his own winemaking company in the reputable village at the heart of Valpolicella Classica, Negrar. The winery trundled on peaceably well, and when the time came in 1954 control of it passed to his son, Giuseppe, and nothing would ever be the same again. Over six decades, Giuseppe Quintarelli would become the most famous and succesful winemaker in the history of Valpolicella, a genuine icon, who inspired generations of winemakers (including his longtime apprentice, Romano Dal Forno, now famous for his own eponymous brand).
What was Quintarelli’s secret? The altitude undoubtedly helps, avoiding the valley fog and helping the organic-only vines gain maximum sun exposure. It’s also true that Quintarelli age their wine in oak on average for longer than anyone else in the region (in general at least 8 years). But if it’s anything it must be the near-fanatical attention to detail and refusal to lower standards. Only 13 hectares are under vine, producing only 60,000 bottles a year – and that’s if they even produce, given Giuseppe’s notorious habit of not even releasing a vintage if he deemed it not up to scratch. Other secrets? They will have to remain secret – Quintarelli do not even have a website, let alone anywhere to spill their jealously-guarded secrets.
Giuseppe sadly died in 2012, with the winery passing to his daughter Fiorenza and her husband Giampaolo Grigoli, who have continued Giuseppe’s tradition of exacting standards. With their distinctive bottles and large prices (the highest in Valpolicella), Quintarelli have certainly the look of a cult-winery, but the real joy is that what’s in the bottle really backs it up. Valpolicella’s brightest star contines to shine bright as ever, a beacon in the region, a myth worthy of its status.