GISSEPPE QUINTARELLI in His CELLAR ...NEGAR, ITALY
Passes Away Age 84 R.I.P.
The Maestro of Amarone, Prince of Negar, the great Giuseppe Quintarelli died at his home in Negar, Italy on Sunday at the age of 84. A very sad day in the World of Italian Wine. Mr. Quintarelli was the Maestro of Amarone. Many would say he alone sat at the top of the Throne of this, one of Italy's greatest wines. Yes there are other great producers of the esteemed Amarone, producers such as Masi, Serego Alighieri, Bertani, Sergio Zenato, and others, but it was Giuseppe Quintarelli who was considered the King. These sentiments felt by his aforementioned peers, wine writers and publications, Sommeliers, collectors and all who were seriously into great Italian Wine.
I know a good many of the people making the most renowned Amarones in and around Lake Garda in the Veneto, people like Marilisa Allegrini, Sergio Zenato, the Basciani's of Masi and others. I never did have the good fortune to meet Mr. Giuseppe Quintarelli, though I drank his wonderful wines on numerous occasions and I did try to meet him one day. The day in question was one fine April day in 2001. It was right after the famed Italian Wine Exposition of Vinitaly (in Verona every April) had ended.
As is my custom when I attend Vinitaly, I go to verona and the show for 2 or 3 days, see my friends (Italian Wine Producers), Eat Drink Eat and Drink and make plans with some of these friends to visit them at their wine estates in Valpolicella Classico, Peimonte, Montalcino, and or Chianti Classico the days following the ending of Vinitaly. So the day directly after Vinitaly ended in 2001 my friend Jimmy and I went off to Lago De Garda to see some producers on their estates. We check out of our hotel in Verona (The Arena) went to a Salumeria and picked up a 6 pack of Aqua Mineral and Salami for the road. We got into the rented Scotto Fabia and made our way toward Lake Garda and the region of Valpolicell Classico, the region where they make Bardolino, Valpolicell, Amarone, and Valpolicella Recioto.
We pulled into the town of Garda directly on the lake and had breakfast in one of the large caffes on the lake. We discussed what we would do, and I said I just have to meet The King of Amarone Giuseppe Quintarelli. We would go to th town of Negar and look for him. I never met him as for several reasons, the biggest being that the man who represents him Robert Chadderon is one of the "Biggest Assholes in The World of Wine," and I'm not the only one who feels this way. Look in biography of Robert Parker "The Prince of Wine" ask anyone in the business and the will tell you the same "Robert Chadderon
Is An Asshole" plain and simple. Being in the business, at numerous tastings, Wine Luncheons and Dinners and doing business on a daily business, whenever you bring up Chadderon's name, eyes roll and you find out another who can't stand the guy.
So some of the reasons I had never met Mr. Quintarelli, and I know just about everyone in the Italian wine business, is mainly that Robert Chadderon imports imports and distributes Quintarelli Wines and as for myself and numerous others we do not do business with that Ass, Quintarelli or not.
So we were in Valpolicella Classico, and I tell my buddy Jimmy, we have to go to Negar, go to the Quintarelli Estate and meet the man. Well easier said than done. We finished our breakfast, went next door and bought some Speck and Garda Olive Oil (the most Northern produced olive oil in the World), we jumped in our rented car and it was off to Negar a few miles away. We got into the center of town. We asked one person after the next where Quintarelli was? Evryone said they didn't know. One after the other. We drove around and drove around. We drove up into the mountains. We came upon a rural bar way up into the mountains, clouds all around. We walked in. I'm sure we were probably the only Americans ever in this bar. In the sticks, a hamlet. We had a glass of Tocai each. We asked for Quintarelli, like tight lips hiding a Mafiosa know one knew. Ok, "we give up." Finding Quintarelli was not to be.
We drove to the estate of Serego Aligheri were they produce, in my mind thee best Amarones around. The estate is beautiful, we walked among the vines, toured the ancient Cellars which are one of the few left to have large Cherry Wood Cask, and the wine age just amazingly in these vessels. They are like no other wood at all. The pores of the wood are large than those of oak wood, thus the wine is able to age a little faster in the same amount of time. The wines are absolutely wonderful. We had a little tasting at the cellars, picked up a couple bottles each, then headed to the town of Bardolino. Earlier Jimmy asked me what was the best thing to eat while in Garda. I told him the only thing to get was some fresh lake trout (Trota). By the time we had driven all around Garda, wnet way up into the mountains, almost to Trentino, then went to Serego and back to the shores of Lake Garda we were both quite hungry and ready for our Trota, but it was not to be. When we got to Bardolino, we couldn't find one restaurant or trattoria open for business. We had to settle for Gelato at a Gelateria. There was to be no Trota in Bardolino. Jimmy was quite mad, so when we jumped in the car to drive down to Bologna and as we drove threw the town, Jimmy shouted out the window "No Trota." Yes, we couldn't find Quintarelli and there was "No Trota" as well.
Daniel Bellino Zwicke