Wine savvy consumers and SI readers are well aware of Amarone and Valpolicella wines from Italy. They may also knnow Marilisa Allegrini, (pictured here with a bottle of her famed Amarone) who has done so much to make the wines from her historic winery known in India during her several visits to the country, writes Reva K. Singh.
Allegrini wines were once again the reason for a convivial get-together at a dinner in the capital a few weeks ago hosted by Ritu Dalmia and inspired by the wines and cheeses of the Veneto. Titled “Cin Cin Cinema, A Night of Film and Food”, the event which celebrated cinema and cuisine, was organized by Nina Saxena and Seema Chari, the two charming partners of Eloquenza, at Diva, Ritu Dalmia’s popular Italian restaurant in Delhi’s Greater Kailash.
Nina and Seema have organised some of the most enjoyable wine dinners that I’ve had the pleasure of attending, and this one was no exception. In the course of the evening, film clips in which wine and food play a pivotal role were screened along with a great meal paired with fine Italian wines.
On a previous occasion, Eloquenza organised a wine dinner around a literary theme. Another time, Sommelier India joined forces with Eloquenza for al fresco fine dining and Italian wines on the lawns of The Imperial hotel’s San Gimignano restaurant, which our friends are still talking about!
That night, guests regarded each course with greater interest as it was placed before them after watching a scene from films such as “Focaccia Blues”, “I Am Love”, “Like Water For Chocolate”, “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Julie and Julia”. Animated discussions ensued about the clips as well as the food and wine, reflecting how wine can be as much a part of culture, as art, literature and music.
The first wine was a Soave, the only white wine served. Italy, which boasts of nearly 2,000 indigeneous grape varieties and has been cultivating vines for thousands of years has a preference for red wines. However good they may be, white wines often play second fiddle. “Life is too short to drink white wine!” exclaimed Giancarlo Mastella. “But since we do produce it, we do a good job.”
The Allegrini Soave we tasted was a young wine, fresh and fruity, with flavours and aromas of pineapple and banana. The perfect aperitif it is equally successful paired with light antipasti or a fish dish. Soave is also the name of a village, surrounded by hills, just east of Verona.
Next came Valpolicella, a light-bodied, easy and very pleasant red wine. In Valpolicella, an area comprising several villages in the eastern part of the Veneto in Italy’s northeast, red wine is the focus. The best wines in this appellation come from top producers like Allegrini, who have successfully melded tradition and modernity to produce wines of great personality. Aged in stainless steel, the Valpolicella 2010 we drank with our Spaghetti con Pomodoro was fresh and aromatic with a bright cherry fruit nose.
“Look out for cherry notes always,” advised Giancarlo. “With its characteristic taste of cherries, this wine will be good for two to three years.”
The star of the evening, however, was the Amarone, made from local grapes (like Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara) it stood up well to the rich quail with rose petals and the robust ratatouille that accompanied it. Referring to it as the “queen of all Italian wines”, Giancarlo said, that Amarone, along with Brunello and Barolo was one of the three great red wines of Italy and declared it Italy’s cultural contribution to the world!”
Only the ripest grapes from the top of each bunch are used to make the wine. The grapes are then dried for three to four months on straw mats. This process naturally softens the tannins, but also raises alcohol levels to as much as 16%, producing wines with aromas of candied fruits and a potent, mouth-filling palate.
Allegrini is the leading producer in the Valpolicella Classico area and one of the most highly acclaimed wineries in Italy. The family’s roots in Valpolicella date back to the 16th century. Today the winery consists of more than 100 hectares (247 acres) set amongst the rolling hills of the “Classico” appellation. All wines made under the Allegrini label are produced exclusively from their estate vineyards.
Marilisa’s father, Giovanni Allegrini modernized the business and developed new markets for the wines within Italy and overseas. Although he passed away prematurely in 1983, Marilisa and her brother, Franco, have built on his legacy and taken the company to new heights.
For more information about the producer visit: http://www.allegrini.it/
Where to buy Allegrini wines in India:
Natures Basket outlets around the country and leading wine stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The wines are imported and distributed in India by Brindco.