Luca Fedrigo is a quiet, unassuming guy. When you taste in his pristine cellar, as we did recently -- and as Jeremy Parzen and his amici did before us -- you notice that this young man doesn't brag or hint how lucky you are to taste the wines of his azienda, L'Arco. He sits quietly and lets you react. He answers your questions calmly and directly with no injections or salesmanship or ego. The wines speak for themselves. They are eloquent. And they are beautiful.
Luca's is the quiet confidence of someone who started with nothing, who quit school at 14 and, in an 11-year apprenticeship with the equally unassuming Giuseppe Quintarelli, learned an immense amount about the terroir, the grapes and the best methods of grape-farming and wine-making in Negrar, the very heart of Valpolicella.
Luca and Quintarelli maintain a close relationship.They buy corks together -- only the best, as you might imagine; they share the bottling line when the truck comes round -- neither cantina makes a large amount of wine; they consult one another one various matters. In short, L'Arco is one of the many wineries in Valpolicella that, on one way or another, has sprung from the seeds planted by Giuseppe Quintarelli, who himself must be one of the great talent scouts in the history of wine. A couple of familiar names will suffice: Tommaso Bussola, Romano Dal Forno. These stars in the Valpolicella firmament apprenticed at Quintarelli. Add Luca Fedrigo to the firmament list.
Amarone is Luca's top wine, of course. But we loved his thrilling blends at least as much. Pario is made of the usual Valpolicella grapes with a small percentage of Croatina. It is passito, of course. (Passito means the grapes are air-dried for a period to decrease the volume of water and increase concentration, sugars and alcohol.)
Rùbeo is a blend of the Valpolicella grapes and the Cabernet brothers, Sauv and Franc. The exact proportions vary from vintage to vintage, but it is about 50/50 Valpo and Cab.
The Valpolicella Classico and Valpolicella Classico Superiore (often known in the US as "ripasso" even though the word has no legal standing) are among the finest you will find. The Recioto is the best I've ever tasted, although I confess that I've never tasted Quintarelli's.
We will be sharing more with you about Luca Fedrigo and L'Arco. The wines will be available to Domenico Selections customers beginning this fall. Stay tuned.
(Photo purloined from Jeremy Parzen's blog, Do Bianchi)