2 Apr 2012

Pitstop (Valpolicella, Italy - Day Two)

Wandering around Verona for a day, I truly felt like I had arrived to Italy, and also I had walked onto a living breathing Shakespeare set. The city is beautiful, and has all the elements of a classic Italian city; Roman ruins, cobbled (pedestrian) streets, piazzas, trattorias, fashion stores, and lots of stylish attractive people. The city was full of people, partly taking advantage of the great weather, but also a combination of tourists and visitors for the Vintitaly fair which started on the Sunday. The fair itself is away from the centre of town, and so doesn't interfere with daily life in Verona too much. But I'll talk more about Vinitaly in a separate post.

Me above Valpolicella
Amidst the chaos of trying to catch up with as many producers as possible during the fair, it was nice to take some respite and actually visit some vineyards. With Verona being less than 30 minutes from Valpolicella it was a perfect opportunity to visit one of the best known producers in the region, Allegrini, who were running tours each day of Vinitaly. I joined a group of Korean customers who are making a trip to other Italian regions like myself, and we bussed out to the winery. The cellars and production facilities aren't anything particularly unique, but it is the drying room where you see the scale and quality of the Amarone wines. Racks are stacked high and fans surround them, blowing air constantly to ensure a consistent drying of the grapes. In wet conditions a tent is placed over the racks to avoid any rot or fungus. At the moment the drying room looks pretty empty, but during and after the harvest this room is full of racks.

Allegrini cellars
As we drove into the hills above the several valleys that feed into Valpolicella we passed many of the Allegrini vineyards and stopped and some of them as well. Giovanni Allegrini was a pioneer in the region, and when many vineyards were being left abandoned after the Second World War, he was purchasing them. Importantly many of these vineyards were in more elevated sites that could produce full-bodied but elegant table wines, a growing part of the market globally 30 years ago. Possibly the most famous vineyard is the La Poja, which is only 2.65 hectares and is planted exclusively to the Corvina grape. A flat plateau, the soil composition is very unique for the region, consisting of limestone and chalk, the surface of which is very white and reflects sunlight up into the canopy. From this vineyard they make the sought-after La Poja wine.

Corvina vines in the La Poja vineyard
Back at the fair I had the chance to taste a few of the wines. The Soave 2011 was very crisp and fresh, with some nice depth and texture, something I like to see in the style. The Valpolicella Classico 2011 had a bright floral juicy nose, and was pleasant and spicy on the palate. The La Grola 2009 was much darker and tighter, slightly fuller and darker as well - a good wine but hardly unique. The Amarone Classico 2008 was very freh and had lovely fruit sweetness, supple yet firm tannins and great balance. The La Roya Amarone 2007 was a significant step up; very deep and intense (possibly due to the warmer vintage), very prominent on oak at the moment, showing some great signs of complexity but requiring a bit of cellaring to open up some more.

A quick glass of Valpolicella Classico before moving on
Click here to see more photos from Day Two in Valpolicella, Italy.

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