A giant of the region, the name of Allegrini is virtually synonymous with Valpolicella, with evidence linking the family name to wine production in their native Fumane as long ago as the 16th century. The current azienda dates back merely to 1854, but perhaps owes its modern reputation to 20th century postwar patriarch Giovanni Allegrini, whose sharp eye for innovation and for sites with massive, untapped potential was unparalleled in its day.
Today’s Allegrini has over 100 hectares under vine in the historic Valpolicella Classica area alone, of which the pride and joy are surely La Grola, La Poja, and the Palazzo della Torre vineyards, planted by Giovanni himself having fallen into desuetude and disrepair. His careful work and openness to modern techniques such as the judicious use of French barriques as well as Slavonian botti revitalised these sites, now recognised as among the most important and prestigious in the appellation.
They now produce cru wines from these sites (another innovation – single vineyard wines were not considered the norm in the old days), which represent surely the apogée of their output. At the other end of the scale, they were also among the first to recognise the possibility of using corvina as a standalone, varietal wine-grape for inexpensive cheerer-uppers, as well as the value of introducing small amounts of not only merlot and cabernet sauvignon, but sangiovese as well, into some blends. Giovanni’s children have carried on that passion and innovatory spirit, with Franco and Marilisa now running the show, while their late brother Walter, who was Giovanni’s eldest, was also considered crucial to the winery’s development into the brand it is today.
And what a brand it is! Allegrini’s reach is enormous these days, with sites owned from the white wine havens south of Lago di Garda all the way to the spiritual homes of sangiovese in Tuscany. Nowhere, however, indicates their passion for their native turf better than their hospitality centre, the Renaissance-era Villa della Torre in Fumane, a Mannerist masterpiece of the architect Giulio Romano, once a pupil of Raphael, built in the 16th century while – conceivably – elsewhere in the village, an ancestor of Giovanni, Franco, Marilisa and Walter was helping with the harvest.