Five Minutes With… Marilisa Allegrini

The Allegrini family have been growing grapes in the heart of Valpolicella Classico since the 16th century. Giovanni Allegrini was the first to start bottling wines from the family’s 120 hectares of vineyard. When he died in 1983, he passed his passion for quality wine onto his three children – Walter, Marilisa and Franco – who worked together to build on Giovanni's quality ethos until Walter’s death in 2003.

Now, Marilisa (pictured above centre) takes charge of the sales and marketing and Franco (above right) looks after the vineyards and the winemaking. Silvia (above left) looks after Corte Giara, a negociant label of Allegrini.  

1. Marilisa, we haven’t seen each other for a while, how was your 2020?

Personally, my 2020 was not too bad. I had the honour and privilege to be nominated Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Labour) by the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella, which is the highest honour that an entrepreneur can receive in Italy. I also became a grandmother to a beautiful boy Pietro, the first son of my daughter Carlotta. It was an immense joy for the entire family.

It was not an easy vintage in terms of production and quality of the harvest, but thanks to the prime location of the vineyards, we were still able to achieve good maturation in the grapes. The wines of the 2020 vintage are already showing great elegance and freshness.

In general terms, 2020 was a difficult year with the pandemic, the many lives lost, the sense of insecurity it has left with us, and the worries for the future. This pandemic has been terribly painful for everyone, yet we must look forward, with hope and confidence. We must learn to be better, from all points of view.

2. What is happening in the vineyard right now?

The growing season is progressing nicely, and we are in full blossom. While walking along the rows in the vineyards, we can smell the very delicate yet intense perfumes of the vine flowers. It was relatively cold during budding, which translated into a balanced production. We have just finished making the selection of the buds and now we are monitoring the evolution of the vine, trying to aid nature in the best possible way, with a love and care for vineyards and soil.

3. Let’s talk about the Lugana 2019, tell us a secret about this wine.

Allegrini’s investment into the Lugana DOC appellation demonstrates the family’s plans to be at the forefront of the quality revolution taking place in this small corner of the western Veneto. We have decided to start this new adventure for more than one reason. Lugana has been growing in popularity and quality in the last 10 years. It represents a classic denomination that has taken huge strides forward as of late, creating new excitement for wines made with the local grape Turbiana. Here we can produce the style of versatile and quality focused white wine that we like: fresh, fruity but with intense aromas and great minerality, which lends itself to immediate enjoyment and also has some longer term cellaring potential.

4. What is the most unusual, yet delicious, food pairing that you have tried with Lugana 2019?

Lake Garda is home to some very unusual fish, one of which is the Carpione, a rare fish that is now almost extinct. Another, the Lavarello, is quite common, and for me, Lugana goes very well with white fish, cooked in the "in Carpione" style.

"In Carpione" is a traditional way to prepare fish in Lake Garda. To make this recipe you can use any lake fish, trout, or perch. This type of recipe was created to preserve the flavours in the fish by marinating it. Once gutted and the head and tail removed, the fish is covered in flour and fried, then it is immersed in a mixture of white wine and white wine vinegar, and flavoured with herbs and vegetables. "In Carpione" takes its name from the fish that was first used for this recipe.

5. What is your favourite food pairing with the Lugana 2019 when you open a bottle at home?

I love to cook, and I love fish. One easy and very tasty recipe is Branzino al Sale (Salt Baked Sea Bass). As I am often short of time, this is a fantastic recipe that you can prepare in less than 45 minutes. It is my favourite dish to serve with Lugana.