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
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Dramatic skies over Villa del Torre

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The (hazy ) view looking down onto Valpolicella country

So finally Summer is here and I am off on a long awaited trip to the open air opera festival in Verona. This was a trip that had been on the bucket list for quite some time, not just because of the world class opera but because Verona lies in the heart of the Valpolicella region, east of Lake Garda and west of Venice in Northern Italy. The hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region north of the Adige is famous for wine production and is home to Italy’s, most famous, most celebrated, biggest and boldest wine – Amarone.

We chose to stay in a most welcoming Agroturismo, atop a hill just south of Verona. It was a well established place attracting both local and tourist custom. With its own organic winery and well run kitchens, breakfast and lunch under the shade of the vines was a most agreeable experience.

So after a couple of days squeezing in everything Verona had to offer; culture, opera, gelato, long evening strolls around town doing “La Passeggiata” moving gracefully as only a Brit resembling A Man from U.N.C.L.E. can do – the morning finally came when it was time to look beyond the city walls.

The countryside around Verona has some of Italys oldest wine production, established in the 16th century to quench the growing thirsts of the Italian Nobility. Words such as Negrar, Soave, Bardolino and towns that included the word “Valpolicella” litter the map. As a sight-seeing destination for wine buffs and amateurs alike, this region does not disappoint. Ancient terraces of vines, studded with cypresses and historic hilltop villages. Personally, I find this region rivals the more feted Tuscany in terms of prettiness.

Our destination was the picturesque village of Fumane di Valpolicella, home to a foremost Amarone producer the Allegrini Family who have been producing wine for over four hundred years. Its vineyards span 247 acres or 100 rugby pItches of vines. They produce their flagship wines of La Grola, Palazzo della Torre and La Poja from four Vineyards each showcasing different styles; .Corte Giara is their young, easy drinking wines, Poggio al Tesoro produces more restrained, elegant wines and San Polo the perfect terroir for Sangiovese grapes producing wines with great finesse of fragrances and elegant flavours. Allegrini also purchased the Villa Della Torre estate in the heart of Fumane di Valpolicella which now serves as the official Headquarters of its operations

The red wine known as Valpolicella is typically made from 4 grape varieties. Click on 4 grape varieties (below) to learn more. These grapes produce a variety of wine styles including a Recioto dessert wine and Amarone, a strong wine made from dried grapes.

Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara.

The most basic Valpolicella Classicos are light, fragrant table wines similar to Beaujolais nouveau and released only a few weeks after harvest and not for ageing. Valpolicella Superiore is aged at least one year with an alcohol content of 12 percent. Valpolicella Ripasso is a form of Valpolicella Superiore but made with partially dried grape skins left over from the 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%).

The afternoon of wine tasting at Villa Delle Torre kicked off with a tour of the house and gardens with a glass of the Estates cool, crisp Soave in hand before retiring to a barrel-vaulted wine tasting room for the main event – a tasting of five of their fantastic wines accompanied by hunks of salty aged Parmesan and fresh local bread.

GW Tasting Notes:

SOAVE 2017

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

GW Score 4*

VALPOLICELLA 2010

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 70%, Rondinella 30%
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.

GW Score 4*

PALAZZO DELLA TORRE 2015

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 25%, Sangiovese 5%
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. The delightful aroma of raisined grapes is enhanced if the wine is served at 18° C in a large wine glass.

GW Score 5*

AMARONE 2014

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 45%, Corvinone 45%, Rondinella 5%, Oseleta 5%
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 to select grapes of sufficient quality. Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta are left to air dry at least until December and are then checked daily to ensure perfectly healthy grapes. This wine has structure and depth and shows mature fruit and spices – good acidity and smooth tannins.

GW Score 5*

Give this region a try and find something “just off the beaten track” that you just wouldn’t normally experience. 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.

Click on 4 grape varieties (below) to learn more 

Corvina Veronese, CorvinoneRondinella, and Molinara.

Music Pairing 

Herbie Hancock – Gershwin’s world

🍷 The Grape Wizard ratings 🍷

5* A must buy – don’t miss it.

4* Invest in this cheeky bottle for something different

3* ‘A middle of the road’ pleaser

2* Under average. Disappointing.

1* Do not go near this one – avoid at all costs.

Australian Day – 26th Jan 2018 – ‘flamin heck!

Australia Day Friday 26th Jan 2018

This Friday (26th Jan 2018 ) sees the world 🌍 witness a global event. A crazy event where a country in the Southern Hemisphere takes park in”their” day.

Australia 🇦🇺 day celebrates everything that is good about its citizens about its life and what it is to be an Aussie

Forget corked hats

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kangaroos and dingos. Australia 🇦🇺 has moved on.

Aussies are known for enjoying a tipple or two 😉 but there is a lot to celebrate.

Australia Day is celebrated each year on the anniversary of the first fleet from Britain landing in Sydney Cove. Many Australians consider January 26 with national pride, flying the Australian flag from businesses, homes, cars and even their babies. They attend festivals, fireworks, community and sporting events or gather for family barbecues at homes, parks or on the beach.

However, there is also a growing movement of people who feel the holiday must change date or theme on account of the terrible impact of colonisation on indigenous people  

home for tens of thousands of years before European settlers arrived nearly 230 years ago.

The public holiday of Australia Day always occurs on January 26 no matter what day of the week it occurs. Many people become citizens of Australia on Australia Day at Citizenship Ceremonies across the nation.

It is also the day that the Australian Government awards the Order of Australia 

  to selected Australians, which is ‘an Australian society of honour for according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service’.

The beginnings of colonised Australia As a nation, Australia had a painful start. Under British rule it was initially intended as a penal colony. The ruling classes in 18th century England considered criminals to be incapable of rehabilitation. Their method of reprimand was to segregate convicts from the general population.

In October 1786, Arthur Phillip was appointed captain of the HMS Sirius, and assigned to transport British convicts to the continent. His mission was to establish an agricultural work camp. Captain Phillip commanded a fleet of 11 ships and 1,500 passengers, including 700 prisoners. After an 8-month journey, they reached Sydney Cove.

It was January 26, 1788 when the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove. Between January 18 and 20, 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships sailed into Botany Bay to set up a penal colony there but the bay proved to be unsuitable. Captain Phillip took a team north and named the area on the south shore of Port Jackson as Sydney Cove. The formal establishment of the colony occurred two weeks later on February 7.

The first colony got off to a rocky beginning as the soil was poor and the settlers didn’t know how to farm. The settlement was on the verge of starvation for several years. However, under the able leadership of Captain Phillip, the people persevered. By 1792, when he returned to England, the outpost was prospering. As a sense of patriotism and pride developed, the people began to consider January 26 as their founding day. In 1818, January 26 was declared a legal holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of the British settlement in Australia.

Over the next 80 years, the population steadily increased, and five additional self-governing colonies were created. On January 1, 1901, all six colonies united to form the Commonwealth of Australia.

Australian of the Year Awards Each year on January 26, an “Australian of the Year” award ceremony takes place. The lawns of Parliament House in Canberra are the site of this prestigious event. The awards go to four individuals who have made outstanding achievements. The award categories are:

• Australian of the Year

• Senior Australian of the Year

• Young Australian of the Year

• Australia’s Local Hero

Award recipients enjoy tea with the Prime Minister

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Malcolm Turnbull

Then the honours are conducted from a podium in front of Parliament House.

Events across the country• Sydney Harbour Bridge flag-raising • Australia Day in Sydney starts at the Harbour with the 7:30am raising of the Aboriginal and Australian flags   on Sydney Harbour Bridge. This dramatic event begins with the lighting of an honorary fire at the Sydney Opera House, which is carried to the Tribal Warrior, an Aboriginal vessel. Bark canoes are then dispatched to meet the Tribal Warrior beneath Harbour Bridge. Fire from each of the tribes rises like incense as the Aboriginal and Australian flags are raised, paying tribute to the nation’s history.

• Sydney Ferrython • This unique race begins at 11am, when decorated commuter ferries depart Circular Quay for Shark Island and back to Sydney Harbour Bridge.

• Salute to Australia • A spectacular 21-Gun Salute to Australia takes place at 12pm under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

• Australia Day Harbour Parade • Starting at 12:45pm, vessels in colorful flair and flags loop around Sydney Harbour and finish at Athol Bay. At 2pm,

• Tall Ships race in Sydney

• Australia Day Regatta • The Australia Day Regatta begins at 1:15pm, featuring a line-up of traditional and classic yachts,

Melbourne• Australia Day Parade •t is preceded by a rousing flag-raising ceremony at 10:30am, at Melbourne Town Hall. The Governor of Victoria gives an Australia Day Address, accompanied by the Royal Guard of Honour. At 11am, the colourful parade begins.

Brisbane fireworks cap off a day of music, interactive art, and swimming.

Perth Perth’s Langley Park is the site of the state’s largest annual fireworks celebration.

For whats on in London please click on the link below

Austrailia Day – Parties and events in london

But that is the frivolity of the day. Here a a few wines to enjoy the day with…

Worth choosing……

 

 2013 Penfolds Grange

1 Penfolds Grange 2013

On the Nose

 

soy/ hoisin, balsamic reduction, kirsch and fresh raspberry.

Palate
black fruits, black liquorice,  black pudding, black fig, black cardamom….

 

Big Top vintage. Full of Character and lots going on. The fruit is big Shiraz but in a grown up sort of way. Different levels of charater in the experience of the tasting. Savoury notes as well. Can be drunk now but would do well if left for years and would become a “trusted old gent” … but it will hurt your wallet !

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Giant steps Chardonnay £34.99 Selfridges

Based in Yarra Valley, Giant Steps has won a reputation for making consistently excellent wines like the ‘Sexton Vineyard’ Chardonnay. Expressive, fresh and lengthy, the wine is yellow-gold in the glass and has notes of

 

white peach, lemon curd and melon. With touches of fennel and lime  

3

The Peppermint Paddock Red Sparkling Chambourcin NV

Abundant red fruit flavours, mixed with dried herb notes and edges of tarry tannins and mineral-like acidity.

Family owned d’Arenberg is located in the breathtaking McLaren Vale in South Australia, and produces an enviable range of wines. A vibrant purple and persistent mousse, the bead lively; a wine that tickles the nose as it tantalizes the palate.

 

 

 

The nose is a swirl of exotic spice, ripe plum 

and black olive, a heady mix that draws you back for another whiff of dark fruits

and a hint of cedar.

The palate is full and fresh, slightly sweet, showing strong flavours of
mint, black fruits  and Christmas spice.  

£19.95 Slurp.co.uk

 

 

Grape Wizard Vintages (best to worst in order)

2015, 2012, 2010, 2004,2003, 2001, 1996,1995

2016, 2014, 2008, 2006, 2005, 1991, 1990

2011, 2009, 2007, 2000, 1997, 1994, 1992

2013, 2002, 1993

So the most important thing is to enjoy tomorrow and to enjoy Australia Day

Drink Responsibly

GW