Good-value Valpolicella doesn't have to be pizzeria plonk.
From €9.90, $13, £11.50, 1,941 roubles, 489.90 Norwegian kroner (in double-magnum box)
The family-run Allegrini estate in Fumane, Valpolicella, goes back to the 16th century, although it was only in the 20th century that Giovanni Allegrini began to focus on the vineyards and quality wine production. He died in 1983 and today it’s his children, Franco and Marilisa pictured above, who run the estate, the former as winemaker and the latter in charge of marketing. They own about 90 ha (222 acres) of vineyards and all their wines come from estate-grown fruit.
While Franco Allegrini is justifiably lauded for his Amarone and single-vineyard wines, it was their most basic entry-level Valpolicella that got my attention. It is a 70% Corvina and 30% Rondinella blend fermented in stainless steel, with 2.5 g/l residual sugar and 13% alcohol. Franco made the decision to forfeit the Classico designation because he wanted to bottle under screwcap, to both minimise cork spoilage problems and maximise freshness. (Their UK importer is corkophobe David Gleave MW of Liberty Wines.)
And freshness is the essence of this red. My tasting note read: ‘Deliciously shiny-red, pure, unaffected red fruit – mouth-watering freshness. This is kicking cancans in the mouth it's so full of energy and vibrant clarity. Tannins as light and graceful as willow sticks. Scrumptious wine. This is what simple Valpolicella should be all about.’
The signature high acidity and relatively low tannins of Corvina, neatly balanced by its tart cherry fruit, makes it ideal for quick everyday meals, especially those with a touch of sharpness from citrus, tomatoes, herbs or vinegar. Think pasta in tomato and basil sauce, warm potatoes tossed with olive oil and salsa verde, chicken baked with capers and lemon, salumi and rocket sandwich, a cold roast-vegetable salad.
You can pick it up for €9.90 in Germany, $13 in the USA (where it is widely available) and £11.50 in the UK from The Wine Society, although it’s sold by at least another 16 wine merchants in the UK. Even better, The Wine Society sells half bottles for £6.75, making it the perfect mid-week wine.
It’s also available in Italy, Austria, Russia and Norway. You can pick up older vintages (although stay away from anything older than 2016 – this is not a wine made to age) in Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bermuda.
NB although the ‘Find this wine’ link takes you to the 2018 vintage, have a look at this link as well because some shops have the wine listed without a vintage, meaning they will ship you whatever vintage they have in stock – check before you buy.