I mentioned in my last post that while I was in New York for VINO2011NY I had the opportunity to talk briefly with Marilisa Allegrini of the Veneto wine producer Allegrini.
We were attending a charity wine tasting benefiting the American Cancer Society where Marilisa was pouring some her wines alongside Cristina Mariani-May of Castello Banfi.
In spite of being close to the end of a long wearying day, with plenty of New York’s finest snow to negotiate and a late dinner yet to attend, I found Marilisa delightfully charming and eager to educate consumers about her Corvina-based (along with rondinella and molinara) Valpolicella wines.
Valpolicella, which translates to “valley of many cellars” (perhaps because of the area’s long history of winemaking) is a DOC wine-making region west of Verona and east of Lake Garda.
The Allegrini winery makes wines using a system where a single vineyard of locally grown fruit goes into each wine.
Marilisa said all of the Allegrini fruit is estate grown, she said, coming from 70 hectares of vineyard in the communes of Fumane, Sant’ Ambrogio and San Pietro, all within the Valpolicella Classico DOC.
When I asked her to explain the difference between her basic Valpolicella Classico (made of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes) and the deeper, more concentrated Palazzo della Torre (Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Sangiovese) and the intense Superiore La Grola (Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Syrah and Sangiovese), she said it starts in the vineyards, where green cropping lowers the fruit load on the vines dedicated to the Superiore.
Her brother Franco is the winemaker, and Marilisa said he adds to the wine’s intensity by using variations of the ripasso (double-fermentation) technique.
“This gives the wine more intensity and concentration as well as a longer aging potential,” said Marilisa, whose family name has been making in the area for at least 500 years and today is synonymous with fine Valpolicella wines.
She also described the Superiore as “halfway” between the basic Valpolicella and the Amarone.
Those at the tasting also had the chance to sample Allegrini’s La Poja, a 100-percent Corvina wine aged in barriques. Very dense and complex, it’s full of dark fruit and round tannins and a silky finish. A great wine for a snowy evening in New York City.
What a week in New York City.
And on and on.
Lucky to get out only 24 hours late.
Here are a few highlights from the four days of Vino2011, also known as Italian Wine Week, presented by the Italian Trade Commission and one of the best weeks of the wine year for fans of Italian wines.
One of my highlights was heading through the storm to NASDAQ and watching Cristina Mariana-May of Castello Banfi, Marilisa Allegrini of the Veneto wine producer Allegrini and Giovanni Montovani, the CEO of Verona Fiere (organizers of VinItaly and the VinItaly WorldTour) ring the closing bell.
Also along for the event were representatives (I’m sorry I can’t find their names in my notes, made soggy by the constant snowfall) to accept a $45,000 donation to the American Cancer Society by VinItaly.
Why would an Italian corporation make such a hefty donation to an American group?
Montovani said simply that he and others who spend their days in the world of Italian wine “feel very fortunate and it is our honor to share our good fortune with those in need.”
And to show how serious about sharing the Italians are, last September they gave an additional $25,000 to the ACS after a “VinItaly Day at Eataly” benefit.
Part of the ceremony too was the unveiling (at least for me) of the video campaign (which first was announced last November) for the commemorative 150th anniversary wines (one white, one red) with grapes from all 20 regions of Italy.
The 150th anniversary commemorative wine concept was conceived by Ettore Riello, president of VeronaFiere, after an idea from Giorgio Napolitano, the president of the Italian Republic. Folks at Vinitaly embraced the idea and the blends were created by a group of Italy’s leading winemakers.
The actual wines (don’t get excited: only a handful of bottles will be produced and, no, you don’t get one) will be introduced on March 17, the anniversary day of Italian independence.
I believe it was the VinItaly PR department that came up with the memorable “1 Nation, 2 Bottles, 20 Regions, 40 Grapes, 150 Years” campaign. You can see a list of the varietals here, with thanks to Serge Lescouarnec.
No one is saying just what the blends are nor how the wines taste, so that will remain a mystery until the first bottle is opened, if it ever is opened and not put in a showcase somewhere.
Later the same day of the NASDAQ festivities (which closed up for the day, probably due to all the great karma) a charity wine tasting was held at the ACS Hope Lodge featuring Banfi and Allegrini wines.
I had the opportunity to chat with (interview) Marilisa during a brief quiet moment toward the end of the tasting, just before she had to leave. It had a been a long day for everyone and she was off to dinner.
I’ll write about our conversation tomorrow.