Of Italy’s most sought-after blue chips, few are as coveted as the masterpieces of the late Giuseppe Quintarelli. 

Over a career spanning six decades, the Veneto’s Grand Old Man created a legacy of, as Antonio Galloni has written, “hypnotic, life-changing wines” which “at their best … had no equal.”

Quintarelli’s legendary Amarone has often been held up as the Valpolicella region’s ultimate expression of tradition. Yet, over his long career Bepi was as brilliantly innovative as he was an old-school champion.

From just eleven hectares of land under vine, Quintarelli bottled an equal number of wines, ranging from his utterly classic Amarone Riserva and Valpolicella to such original departures as Alzeromade like his Amarones, but from Bordeaux varietiesand the equally unusual dry white wine, Bianco Secco.

Bepi picked in successive passes through his vineyards—planted on volcanic slopes of limestone and basalt at Negrar, in the heart of the Valpolicella zonefor the perfect level of ripeness for each wine. 

And the range of wines that emerged from his tiny cellar was of such quality and singularity, that Galloni characterized Quintarelli as an estate that “inhabits a universe all on its own.”

While Quintarelli passed away in early 2012, his grandson Francesco Grigoli continues with his work, having absorbed Bepi’s methods directly from him, as well as his famed obsession for quality and endless patience. Grigoli hasn’t changed a thing, continuing with his grandfather’s exceptional work.

An Unparalleled Array

Today, Francesco fashions a range of wines that proudly uphold the Quintarelli legacy of uncompromising high quality and originality. 

Bianco Secco is the groundbreaking dry white, a blend of native Garganega, Trebbiano and Saorin grapes with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. 

Fermented in stainless steel for pure expression of fruit and terroir, and lees-stirred for richness, its pear and flower bouquet, silky texture and dry, mineral-tinged finish place it about as far from one of the estate’s heroic Amarones as a wine can be, confirming the great breadth of Bepi’s skill and imagination.

Conversely, the dessert cuvée Amabile del Cerè “Bandito” is made from the same varieties, but following the ancient local tradition of passito white wines, made from selected grapes dried for five months, pressed and then aged in barrel for five to six years, during which time it continues to ferment its sugars. 

The result is an exotically-perfumed sweet wine of kaleidoscopic complexity, richness and silky texture.

Brilliance in Red

Of course, Quintarelli is most famous for their red wines, each a unique expression of Bepi’s mastery of appassimento, the traditional Veneto method of making wine from dried grapes. The array begins with a Valpolicella Superiore that changed the world’s perception of what Valpolicella can be.

The key is Quintarelli’s use of the ripasso method. Once the grapes—the native Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella that are prized as the appellation’s greatest varieties—complete the primary fermentation, they are racked onto the Amarone skins, triggering a second fermentation.

Aged for seven years in large Slavonian oak barrels, the result is a multi-dimensional super-Valpolicella, far removed from the industrially-made, characterless versions that dominated the appellation in the 1960s and 1970s. 

At the top of the Quintarelli red hierarchy are his otherworldly Amarones, Reciotos and Alzero. Made only in great vintages from carefully selected bunches of the same varieties used for the Valpolicella, they are dried until the end of January. They are then pressed and macerated until the fermentation begins with the native yeasts. 

The wines ferment for fifty days followed by aging for seven years for the Amarones, during which fermentation continues until the wine is dry. The Recioto, sourced from sites providing the high sugars necessary to retain sweetness following its lengthy fermentation, ages for five to six years and remains sweet.

Quintarelli’s innovative Alzero is made just as the Amarones are, but from Bordeaux varieties—40% each of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, with 20% Merlot—and is aged first in French oak oak barrels for 2 to 3 years, followed by an additional four in Slovenian botti.

Bepi Quintarelli was one of the great Italian winemakers of the 20th century. He was also someone who put his heart and soul into everything he made. Consequently, whether you’re savoring the unique Bianco Secco—or a majestic glass of Amarone—you are experiencing the legacy of a winemaking giant.

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