Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Allegrini's Single-Vineyard Valpollicella

Allegrini's Palazzo della Torre outside Verona

The Allegrini family owns a splendid hilltop property outside of Vernoa, in the Valpolicella region of northern Italy, whose pergola-trained vineyards are planted mostly to Corvina grapes. On the flatlands, Valpolicella wines are light and acceptable for everyday drinking; it's on the hills that they have the potential for more character. Allegrini produces its best wines here: Amarone, using the traditional ripasso method, and a 65-acre, single-vineyard Valpolicella named for the estate's Renaissance villa, Palazzo Della Torre. About a third of the harvest isn't fermented right away but is kept aside until January, when the dried and highly concentrated grapes are added to the new wine and fermented again. The resulting wine is aged for 15 months in small casks.

As it happens, we saw this "passito" technique used in Emilia Romagna  when we visited Italy in the fall of 2008. Here's what the grapes  looked like, on the right.

You could think of the Allegrini wine, which retails for about $20 in Washington, as a "Baby Amarone." But it's a serious bottle on its own, as the winery's Marilisa Allegrini demonstrated at a culinary event this week. It was called "Cookoff for a Cause," and featured three chefs competing for their favorite charity.
  • Sabrina Tinsley of La Spiga (where the event was held) prepared a duck breast stuffed with prosciutto and Parmigianno-Reggiano.
  • Emran Chowdhury of Cantinetta wowed the guests (well, me, especially) with his braised oxtail and ethereal ricotta gnudi (dumplings).
  • Mauirizio Milazzo of Barolo won the top prize ($5,000, for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) with a rabbit meatball braised in red wine.

Chowdhury, Allegrini, Milaszzo, Tinsley

More pictures, including the dishes, in the album. Thanks to Joe Kennedy for the camera!

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