Wine has been made at the Italian estate of Allegrini in Fumane di Valpolicella, not far from Lake Garda, since the 16th century. A census from around this time shows the family was a major landowner with considerable local influence. Fast-forwarding to the 20th century, the late Giovanni Allegrini became the driving force of the company. Having begun work in the family vineyards at an early age, he set about updating and the vineyard and winery practices he had questioned as a youth.
Giovanni not only laid the foundations for the strong family business, developing markets in Italy and abroad, but also worked to gain recognition for the crus of Valpolicella D.O.C, acquiring a vineyard on the hill of La Grola, overlooking Lake Garda for the very purpose. Giovanni, who died prematurely in 1983, did not live long enough to see the vineyard replanted, and his children literally brought the project to fruition.
All Allegrini wines are produced from estate-grown fruit, harvested from the family’s 70 hectares of vines. With quality firmly under their control, the Allegrinis are famously anti-establishment when it comes to local DOC regulations, many of which they feel to be outdated and counterproductive. The basic Valpolicella is bottled under screwcap to retain maximum freshness, waiving the right to the Classico designation in the process. Premium bottlings are simply sold as vino da tavola because of their non-conformist blends, but their quality here is infinitely superior to that of generic Valpolicella. La Poja, one of Valpolicella’s most profound and rich wines, originates from the highest point of the La Grola vineyard and is made exclusively from corvina, Valpolicella’s defining grape variety. La Grola itself is a blend principally of corvina and rondinella with syrah and sangiovese, aged in French oak. It has the haunting perfume of bitter cherries and raspberries characteristic of top-quality Valpolicella.
Giovanni’s winemaker son, Franco is a specialist in Amarone, a unique local speciality made from super-ripe bunches left to dry to concentrate flavour before pressing in January following the harvest. His sister Marilisa, a familiar face at Society tastings, has been responsible for driving forward the development of vineyards. Some more have recently been bought in Bolgheri in Tuscany at Poggio al Tesoro where they make delicious white vermentino and a fragrant red called Mediterra made from cabernet, merlot and syrah.