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Allegrini’s La Grola in Valpolicella celebrates 30 year anniversary!

La Grola from Allegrini was created thirty years ago. A tasting report and producer profile.

Marilisa Allegrini came to Stockholm to celebrate the thirty year anniversary since the first vintage of La Grola. It was not only an occasion for a great vertical tasting of La Grola but also one of their prestige cuvee La Poja. Plus some exciting wines. BKWine’s Roland Eriksson reports.

Recently The Wine Agency & Marilisa Allegrini invited us to a 30-year celebration at Pontus’ “back pocket” (as a bistro-style annex to a luxury restaurant is called in Sweden) called “The Pocket” where we would be celebrating the 30th vintage of La Grola! The entire Swedish cognoscenti (and I) were there.

A family business with vineyards in Valpolicella (and some other places)

Marilisa Allegrini

Marilisa Allegrini, copyright Roland Eriksson

The Allegrini family dates back to the 1500s in Fumane in the wine region of Valpolicella. The current family business was started 151 years ago. Now, it is the sixth generation that runs it. The brother Franco is winemaker, the sister Marilisa is in charge of sales and the niece Silvia is responsible for marketing and PR.

Today they have also broadened their range of wine with Poggio al Tesoro in Bolgheri (Tuscany), since 2001, and in collaboration with Leonardo Lo Cascio they have bought San Polo in Montalcino in 2006.

Proud as a Veronese princess Marilisa featured her family and its wines, especially the birthday child La Grola. USA is the winery’s largest export market, but little Sweden is not far behind as a close second!

A poor old farmer…

But back to La Grola, which also has a really old legend tied to it…

A long time ago there lived a poor farmer named Benjamin on a rocky and wretched slope on the La Grola Hill. He cultivated white grapes that were always small and unripe and gave a thin, sour wine that was almost unsalable. When he was trimming some old vines he found an injured crow. He took pity on it and cared for it tenderly until it recovered.

But the crow was “magical” so when it flew over Benjamin’s vineyard and its wing-tips touched the vines the sour white grapes immediately turned into large, sweet and juicy red wine grapes! These are known since that day as “corvina”!

Corvina veronese grapes in Allegrini vineyards in Valpolicella

Corvina veronese grapes in Allegrini vineyards in Valpolicella, copyright BKWine Photography

If it was the legend or the good location, the sun exposure and the microclimate that made father Giovanni buy the vineyard in 1979 we do not know. But most probably the latter. However, the legend is reflected on the bottle from the 2010 vintage, made for the 30th anniversary, on which both the crow (“grola” in Veronese dialect), the hill and a beautiful young lady adorns the label, designed by artist Milo Manara.

The vineyard La Grola is 30 hectares big at 310 m altitude, facing southeast. The soil is mainly clay and chalk. The wine is made from 80% corvina, 10% syrah and 10% oseleta. Yields are around 56 hl / ha. The wine is stored in barrels for 16 months of which 20% are new oak barriques. The wine is an IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) Veneto.

Some 212,000 bottles are produced annually.

At the top of the La Grola hill is a plot a mere 2.65 ha big, the vineyard called La Poja. Here we have a completely different set of conditions with chalky clay soils, and even more sun exposure. Corvina veronese used to a 100%. Yields are 42 hl / ha and the wine is aged 20 months in new French oak barrels. Only about 14,000 bottles are produced annually. The wine is a Corvina Veronese IGT.

Oak barrels in the Allegrini wine cellar

Oak barrels in the Allegrini wine cellar, copyright BKWine Photography

Let’s taste the Allegrini wines

During the course of a very nice meal, we got the opportunity to try these wines, with matching starter, main course and dessert.

White wines

Bolgarella Bianco Vermentino 2012, Poggio al Tesore, Tuscany

Pale yellow. Young, fresh, some citrus, green notes of nettles; at the same time a bit too forward and slightly unclean nose. Medium-bodied, quite good acidity, with some tropical fruit and citrus.

Solo Sole Vermentino 2012, Poggio al Tesore, Tuscany

Light yellow. Medium nose, nice and grape-like nose with hints of tropical fruit. Quite full-bodied, fresh and grapelike taste, with good mouth-feel, citrus and balance. Clearly superior to the previous wine.

La Grola

La Grola 2010, Anniversary Wine, Valpolicella

Bluish red. Young, quite big bouquet, with notes of red berries, barrels and cherry fruit.

Young, quite full-bodied, dark fruit, cherry tones, smooth tannins and barrel character.

Tasting Allegrini's La Grola

Tasting Allegrini’s La Grola, copyright Roland Eriksson

La Grola 2009 Valpolicella

Bluish red. Quite big, dark fruits, with some maturity and barrel character. Full-bodied, soft, dark fruits, black cherries, wild raspberries, quite smooth tannins and some barrel notes.

La Grola 2001 Valpolicella

Brick red. Ripe, quite big nose, with hints of cherry, dark plums and barrel.

Rich, ripe, soft, quite elegant taste, with both red and dark fruits, plums, coffee, barrel notes, well-balanced acidity, long after-taste.

La Grola 1998 Valpolicella

Brick red. Mature, high acidity, with hints of old autumn leaves and black truffles.

Mature, quite full-bodied, with hints of old and dry leaves, dark fruit, dry, with a slight bitterness, somewhat short finish.

La Grola 1997 Valpolicella

Brick red. Mature, a lot of acidity on the nose, some dried fruits, with some burnt notes and spiciness. Mature, quite full-bodied, high acidity, slightly burnt notes with dry tannins, good length.

Oak barrels in the Allegrini wine cellar

Oak barrels in the Allegrini wine cellar, copyright BKWine Photography

La Poja

La Poja 2008 Valpolicella

Bluish red. Big nose, dark fruits, hints of flowers, black cherry, and nice toasted barrels. Young, full-bodied, dark fruits, quite concentrated, with hints of dark cherry, toasted barrels, good length.

La Poja 2007 Valpolicella

Bluish red. Large, dark fruit, with hints of black cherry and nicely toasted barrels.

Young, full-bodied, dark fruits, concentrated, with silky tannins and toasted barrels, quite long aftertaste.

La Poja 2004 Valpolicella

Ruby red. Large, right ripe, spicy, right elegant, dark fruity fragrance with notes of toasted barrels and cocoa. Rich, ripe right, good dark fruity, spicy, nice balance, with smooth balanced tannins and toasted barrel, good length.

La Poja 2001 Valpolicella

Brick-red. Big nose, quite mature, dark fruits, elegant and spicy, with hints of toasted barrels and cocoa. Rich, quite mature taste, concentrated flavour, with clean dark fruit, cocoa, spices and nice toasted barrels, long aftertaste.

La Poja 2000 Valpolicella

Brick red. Big, mature nose, with dark fruits, plums, spices, herbs, pipe tobacco and some barrel notes. Mature, concentrated, dark fruity flavours, with hints of eucalyptus, some barrel notes, and herbs, long after-taste.

And something else

Giovanni Allegrini Recioto 2009 Valpolicella

Corvina veronese 80%, rondinella 15% and oseleta 5%. Bluish red. Big nose, a little bit of volatile acidity with a hint of linseed oil and raisins. Sweet, smooth, quite full-bodied taste, with raisins, figs and dried fruits.

Allegrini Grappa di Amarone

Amber. Big, grapey, and typical straw-like fragrance for a grappa made from red grapes, with some hints of dried fruit. Full-bodied, quite concentrated, a bit austere, herbs, flavour has hints of dried fruit and grapes.

Exciting verticals

It is always very interesting with a vertical tasting, and in this case it was two!

La Grola is excellent to drink young and for the 15-20 euros one must consider it very affordable. And as a sommelier said, it is easy to price this around 50 euros in the restaurant (sad with such high mark-ups?).

Regarding the older vintages, I thought 2001 was really good, but both the 1997 and 1998 felt a bit old even though the wines came directly from the producer’s cellar and had been stored at optimum conditions. So do buy young vintages when they are released. And if you have a good cellar you can keep them up to 8-10 years and enjoy following the wine’s development!

Corvina veronese grapes in Allegrini vineyards in Valpolicella

Corvina veronese grapes in Allegrini vineyards in Valpolicella, copyright BKWine Photography

La Poja have a completely different potential, which of course you should expect for three times the price.

A high altitude vineyard, different soils, different grape composition, lower yields and new French oak barrels are perhaps the secret? All wines down to the 2000 vintage certainly showed quality as expected and it would have been fun to try some even older vintages.

It was certainly a very pleasant day that ended with a story told by one of the Swedish wine journalists that were present. The first time he visited Verona and Vinitaly (Italy’s largest wine fair) together with some other Swedes he was impressed by all the Swedish flags, blue and yellow, that hung everywhere. “Funny that they want to honour our visit so much!”, he thought. But that was not quite the case; Verona’s city flag looks almost exactly like the Swedish flag!

Allegrini is sometimes one of the stops on BKWine’s wine tours in Valpolicella. The tours show you not only traditional Valpolicella wines, but also amarones and many other exclusive wines from the Veneto region. Join us at BKWine on a wine tour to Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino and you will be sure to taste many outstanding wines and meet the best and most exciting producers.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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