Direct from Giuseppe Quintarelli’s cantina in Negrar, we’ve hand-carried a few bottles of this now rare and sublime vintage of Amarone della Valpolicella. These are truly collector-quality wines stored in the best condition possible for their entire life. Drink now with special friends over a decadent meal, or lay it down for another 10 years — you choose.
Only produced in exceptional years, the Quintarelli family led by the late, great master Giuseppe truly set the gold standard of Amarone — the most extraordinary in all of the Valpolicella region. Giuseppe’s Amarone masterpiece is life changing. This is one of the few wines on the planet that are well worth the exceptional price tag (though we try to keep it priced fairly).
This Quintarelli 1997 vintage is simply magical. With a medium-full body, this sensual wine intensely shows dried red fruits of plums & cherries, baking spices and cocoa, dark earth and a hint of smokiness that lingers on the palate. Like the 2000, the wine evolves remarkably in the glass with a deepening richness and concentration over an hour or two.
How this wine is made: Quintarelli follows Amarone wine making tradition to a T. Exceptional grapes are hand selected during harvest, then placed on straw mats and wooden boxes to allow them to naturally dry and concentrate the sugars (a process called passerillage). Noble rot can start to appear in November, further developing in January until the dried grapes are pressed. The grape must is macerated for 20 days, and then allowed to ferment using natural yeasts for 45 days. The fermented wine is racked and aged for 7 years (yes, that long) in Slavonian oak barrels. While in the barrel, alcoholic fermentation continues, resulting in a dry red wine.
Expected maturity: Now through 2025.
Food pairing: Quintarelli Amarone is a BIG wine. You will want to either drink it on its own (a meal in itself) or with well marbled beef steaks grilled rare, wild boar, venison, braised short ribs, grilled or stewed lamb, and pasta with very rich and meaty ragu sauces. Amarone goes wonderfully with blue-veined and strong-flavored cheeses like gorgonzola, robiola, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Visiting Quintarelli: Rumor has it that visiting Quintarelli is tough. Not really, but you definitely need to make a reservation. The family will graciously open up their tasting room for visitors, and they’ll even sell you some of their wines — but be forewarned, Quintarelli wines can be spendy. If you’d like me to help you book a tasting reservation, contact me or send the family an e-mail or call them at +39.0457.513.241.
Cantina Address: Via Cerè 1, Negrar 37024 (VR) Italy. Google Map
Learn More: While Quintarelli does not have a website, my fellow importer Kermit Lynch has a very nice write-up on the Quintarelli family & wines.