We visited one of Allegrini's single vineyard sites, La Grola, situated on a hillside overlooking the Valpolicella plain. La Grola is planted to corvine, which is known to be the best red grape of the Valpolicella region. Later, we tasted the entire Allegrini portfolio at the actual medieval palace -- Palazzo Della Torre.
This incredible palazzo, constructed in the 1300s, is a treasure trove of antiquity and has some pretty startling stonework, including fireplaces constructed to look like lions and other beasts. Our tasting room had one of those fireplaces, and I couldn't help but think how scary they must have been to the kids living in the place way back then.
While we tasted several excellent white wines, the stars were the red wines. Prices range from a low of about $12 for the Valpolicella Classico, and $22 for the Palazzo Della Torre, to up to $80 for the single vineyard La Poja, and $40 to $50 for the Amarone wines. Most are blends of the Valpolicella varietals with La Poja made entirely with corvina and planted in the La Grola vineyard.
Valpolicella Classico: Deliciously fruity light- to medium-bodied wine that would be excellent with antipasti or grilled Italian sausage.
Palazzo Della Torre: Medium- to full-bodied -- almost like a zinfandel -- with black cherry and toasty oak flavors. This would be a hit with double-cut pork chops stuffed with herbed goat cheese, pan-seared and oven-baked with a soy-honey glaze.
La Grola: Full-bodied and long-lived, this wine demonstrates that Valpolicella can be a serious wine. Ripe and rich with blackberry and cola flavors, this would pair nicely with a grilled bone-in rib-eye.
La Poja: Slightly more elegant than the La Grola, the La Poja is a 100 percent corvina aged in new French oak for more than 20 months. It has licorice and plum flavors and is one you will want to lay down for a few years. Try this with a butterflied veal chop that has been marinated in red wine, garlic and rosemary.
Villa Giona: A blend of 50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 40 percent merlot, and 10 percent syrah, this wine shows how well Bordeaux varietals take to the soils of Valpolicella. Aged for about 18 months in French oak, Villa Giona has aromas of tea and leather and flavors of ripe cherries. Marry it with oven-roasted pork tenderloin that has been rubbed with kosher salt, coarse black pepper and fennel seeds.
Amarone: Ripe, but not overripe, this Amarone is full of sweet and sour cherry flavors. Very intense, but not raisiny as some Amarones can be, this wine would be a lovely accompaniment to a sweet (dolce) gorgonzola with roasted walnuts. Great by a roaring fire around a campsite or at the fireplace during winter.
For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's Vines & Vittles blog at thegazz.com.