wine 2018

Elegance, romance and a surprise ending on a trip to the opera and a vineyard. A visit to Fumane di Valpolicella, home of Allegrini.

TheGrapeWizard @ Allegrini


Dramatic skys over Allegrini

So finally Summer is here and I am off on a long awaited trip to Italy.  I had purchased tickets to the opera festival at the open-air Arena di Verona.  This was a trip that had been on the list for quite some time and i think in such a small space of time i had been and seen as much as a cultured tourist could ! I decided I had to do something different.  Only thing – was what was out there ! Id Been to the Verona Arena to watch Carmen and I had attempted the La-passeggiata as only a Brit resembling a man from Uncle can !! so i decided there had to be more.

Looking on the map in the Agriturismo i suddenly had a lightbulb moment .  A few wine words lit up on the map – almost like clouds parting in front of my eyes – words like Negrar, Soave, Bardolino and towns that included the word “Valpolichella”.  Surely this wasn’t Amarone Country !!!! Was it ?

It most certainly was !


The (hazy ) view looking down onto Valpolicella country


With only 2 days left of a short stay  I decided to book a tasting  with Villa Allegrini



A foremost Amarone producer the Allegrini Family has been producing wine for over four hundred years and is situated in the village of Fumane di Valpolicella  and its vineyards measure 100 hectares (247 acres); or 100 International sized Rugby Pitches. The vineyards of Allegrini house their flagship wines of La Grola, Palazzo della Torre and La Poja in the following Vineyards.



Vineyards of Allegrini

1 .Corte Giara was created in 1989 in response to introducing international varietals.  young wines that can be enjoyed as easily-approachable for consumers.

2. Poggio al Tesoro founded in 2001.  70 hectares (173 acres). Produces modern, elegant wines

3. San Polo – Being located on the south-east facing slope of Montalcino, the Estate possesses an ideal terroir for the cultivation of Sangiovese, which expresses great finesse of fragrances and elegance.

Allegrini also purchased Villa Della Torre in Fumane di Valpolicella (13-1600 AD) 26 hectares (or 26 International rugby pitches).  Today it is used as the official HQ of the Company

Valpolicella is a viticultural zone of the province of Verona, Italy, east of Lake Garda. Just to the west of Venice in Northern Italy. The hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region of small holdings north of the Adige is famous for wine production.

The red wine known as Valpolicella is typically made from 4 grape varieties:

Click on 4 grape varieties (below) to learn more 

Corvina Veronese, CorvinoneRondinella, and Molinara.

A variety of wine styles is produced in the area, including a recioto dessert wine and Amarone, a strong wine made from dried grapes.

Most basic Valpolicellas are light, fragrant table wines similar to Beaujolais nouveau and released only a few weeks after harvest. Very fresh and full of fruit characteristics -not for ageing

Valpolicella Classico is made from grapes grown in the original Valpolicella production zone.

Valpolicella Superiore is aged at least one year and has an alcohol content of at least 12 percent.

Valpolicella Ripasso is a form of Valpolicella Superiore made with partially dried grape skins that have been left over from fermentation of Amarone or recioto.

Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina and other approved red grape varieties (up to 25%).  Films and TV shows where the wine has played a visual role have improved the awareness of the style of wine. It is now regarded as a region that produces world class wine

The name “Valpolicella” is thought to originate from  from Latin/Greek  as the  “Valley of Cellars.”  




Seven comuni compose Valpolicella:

San Pietro in Cariano,
Marano di Valpolicella,
Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella 
Sant’Anna d’Alfaedo.

The 19th century brought a series of calamities to most wine producing regions of Italy-including the phylloxera epidemic (a bug that ate European vine roots ) – wiping out 70% of vines in europe – Valpolichella was relatively unscathed.

So in summary –  over the last 100 years :

the 1950s saw the  “Amarone” style of winemaking being rediscovered.

1968  saw the Valpolicella was granted its own DOC , which led to a large expansion of vineyard areas that were permitted to produce Valpolicella DOC wine. That together with the addition of lesser quality grapes (Molinara and Rondinella) led to a drop in quality, which had a detrimental impact on not only the area’s reputation on the international wine market but also on sales and prices.

As winemaking became less profitable, the vineyards were uprooted and abandoned. This shifted the source of grape production even further away from the better quality producing hillside regions.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Amarone wines of Valpolicella experienced a spike in popularity on the world’s wine market. Production of Amarone jumped from 522,320 US gallons in 1972 to 1.2 million gallons  by 1990.

By 2000 Amarone production grew to over 3.9 million bottles  (148,000 hl).

It was getting popular !

By this point, the price for grapes destined for Amarone production was nearly three times higher than what a comparable quantity of grapes would fetch for basic Valpolicella production. This sparked renewed interest in planting vineyards in the high altitude hillside locations that produced lower yields of grapes better suited for Amarone production.

In the 21st century, the reputation of Valpolicella wines continued to expand on the world’s wine market, as ambitious winemakers began to invest more in advanced viticultural and winemaking techniques that produce higher quality wines. In 2003, the DOC regulations were adjusted to eliminate mandatory blending requirements for sub-quality grapes such as Molinara. It had gone full circle.

What was once the reason that made Valpolicella a low quality low value wine made it in demand again into a desired want to have red region !


So my time at Allegrini was spent  visiting the HQ and  tasting four of their range of wines



Grapes : Garganega and Chardonnay

Density of planting: 6,250 vines/hectare (2,530 vines/acre)

Harvest: Manual harvest September – October

2017 vintage Tasting notes

 Straw yellow in colour and the nose reveals notes of white flowers followed by fresher jasmine flowers and a crisp and delicate citrus vein.

Pair with : risotto with saffron and raw fish dishes, tempura, sushi and sashimi, as well as Asian dishes  Serve chilled at 8-10°C (46-50°F).


GW Score 4*


Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 70%, Rondinella 30%

The territory: Valpolicella Classica

Vineyard location:  Fumane, Valpolicella,

Tasting notes

Ruby red in colour, the nose shows notes of cherries, echoed by fresher hints of pepper and aromatic herbs,

Whilst young it is lively and playful – delicate later on.

Food pairings

This type of Valpolicella is the perfect accompaniment to Italian antipasti, soups, pasta dishes and other dishes typical of Mediterranean cuisine.  pairs well with roasted and grilled white meats. Serve at 16°C (61°F)

GW Score 4*



Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 25%, Sangiovese 5%

The territory: Valpolicella Classica

Tasting notes

This wine is elegant good aroma. Ruby red in colour with purple hues, it offers hints of raisins, vanilla, black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. Soft and velvety tannins with a long finish.

Food pairings

Palazzo della Torre  pairs with  risottos, lasagna, gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts; grilled meats and roasts.

The delightful aroma of raisined grapes is enhanced if the wine is served at 18° C in a large wine glass.

GW Score 5*


2014 Amarone.

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 45%, Corvinone 45%, Rondinella 5%, Oseleta 5%

The territory: Valpolicella Classico

Vineyard location: Located in the hills of the Valpolicella Classico area


Vintage 2014 began with a mild  winter. From April onwards, the weather started to get progressively worse, culminating in a surprisingly cold and wet summer. Meticulous trimming and selection was necessary at harvest time, resulting in a 15% reduction in yield. The selection of grape bunches led to select harvesting and ultimately good quality wines were produced

Tasting notes

Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta are left to air dry at least until December and are checked daily to ensure perfectly healthy grapes. Wine has structure and depth and shows mature fruit and spices – good acidity and smooth tannins.

Food pairings

enjoy with game, roasted and grilled meats, casseroles and well matured cheeses. Amarone’s distinctive flavour compliments exotic sweet and sour cuisine and is therefore also perfect with Asian and middle-eastern dishes. Serve at 18°C (64°F)


GW Score 5*


other wines of the allegrini family




So when you look at the region you can see that it has been through a lot , it has had its bad time through lazy regulation but it seems to have transformed through a 40 year period into a serious contender on the world’s stage.

Soave always has had a bad time with critics. Always regarded as a very easy drinking low quality wine. Now some producers produce fabulous Soave. Almost unknown since those horror days

Amarone has finesse and elegance whereas Valpolicella has all the characteristics the weekly dinner night drinker wants. Easy accessible good value quality wine.

Not only has the bar been raised with the quality of all wines over the last 40 years  but the scenery is to die for. History, scenery and experience make this area almost unchartered. This was a very enriching journey and one I’m glad i did.  Give this region a try and find something “just off the beaten track” that you just wouldn’t normally have. Who wouldn’t like a christmas pudding in a wine or cracked black pepper smattered all over a dark red !! Valpolicella is is now a top ten region for me now

Music Pairing 


Herbie Hancock – Gershwin’s world


***** MUST BUY – Invest ! YUM YUM !
**** Great to drink !
*** OK, just ok – don’t expect too much
** Little bit Lacking, be careful !!
* Avoid like the plague !!
Year Score
2013 3/5
2012 4/5
2011 4/5
2010 4/5
2009 5/5
2008 4/5
2007 4/5
2006 5/5
2005 3/5
2004 5/5
2003 4/5
2002 2/5
2001 4/5
2000 5/5
1999 4/5
1998 5/5
1997 5/5
1996 2/5
1995 5/5
1994 3/5
1993 3/5
1992 2/5
1991 3/5
1990 5/5
1989 2/5
1988 5/5
1987 2/5
1986 3/5
1985 4/5
1984 3/5
1983 5/5
1982 3/5
1981 3/5
1980 3/5
1979 4/5
1978 3/5
1977 4/5
1976 4/5
1975 3/5
1974 4/5
1973 3/5
1972 2/5
1971 3/5
1970 3/5
1969 4/5
1968 3/5
1967 4/5
1966 3/5
1965 2/5
1964 4/5
1963 2/5
1962 4/5
1961 4/5
1960 2/5
1959 3/5



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