Marilisa Allegrini took the Wine Experience stage with memories of her father in her heart, recounting his foresight in buying what is today one of the crown jewels of her family's estate. In 1979, Giovanni Allegrini purchased La Poja, a small hilltop vineyard at the western edge of Valpolicella Classico in Italy's Veneto region, with plans to create a quality table wine made entirely from the local Corvina grape. It was a huge risk at a time when "people were looking for quantity rather than quality," Allegrini explained.
Giovanni passed away in 1983, leaving Marilisa and her brothers, Walter and Franco, to steer the estate. Their success, built on their father's quality-first philosophy, elevated not just the Allegrini name, but the reputations of the Valpolicella region and its wines. La Poja is one of Allegrini's rarest, most prestigious wines, the product of Giovanni's winegrowing intuition and the determination of his children to build on his legacy.
Allegrini shared a 17-year-old vintage of the cuvée that has meant so much to her family, the powerful, full-bodied Allegrini Verona La Poja 2000 (92 points, $85 on release). La Poja is an outsider among the traditional wines of Valpolicella: In addition to being a single-vineyard, single-variety wine, the grapes are not partially dried via the appassimento technique, as they are for Amarones and Reciotos. Yet its ageability is evident "because it is still very fresh, it has a good integration of the tannins, but also still very, very good acidity," Marilisa explained, noting that the fruit-forward wine has picked up tertiary aromas including Mediterranean herbs, spices and balsamic notes.
Today, Marilisa represents Allegrini around the world as the company's charismatic CEO, while Franco oversees the grapegrowing and winemaking back home in Italy. (Walter passed away unexpectedly in 2003.) Marilisa attributes much of their success to the precedent set by Giovanni. "My father gave a lot of lessons to us," Allegrini said. "The first one was that a very demanding business, full of hard work with passion, can be enjoyable and wonderful."
With the seventh generation of Allegrinis—represented at the Wine Experience by Marilisa's daughter, Carlotta, and her niece, Silvia—now learning the family business, Marilisa hopes to pass down this tireless work ethic and commitment to quality, as Giovanni did for her.