That I love wine is not a secret anymore and that I like wine from all over the world neither… but I do have a few preferred wine regions. In my top 3 is without any doubt Valpolicella. To situate it, the Valpolicella region is around Verona and a stone throw away from the Garda Lake. I like the Valpolicella wines because it are rich, full bodied and if you go to the Ripasso or Amarone level stronger wines that ask for some stronger food like a good piece of meat for example. So when my dad send me that there was a wine & dine event from the highly reputated Valpolicella wine estate Allegrini I didn’t have to think twice, when he then added it was at the astonishing Chateau Neercanne in Maastricht no thinking was required anymore… it just is a MUST DO and we also didn’t really have to convince our friends Carlos and Ignace to much to join 😉 . Although Allegrini is one of Valpolicella’s biggest and most reputed wine estates from this region, I actually know/knew the Allegrini wines from the days my dad had his restaurant and where he used to sell a few of their wines like the Lagrolla and the Amarone. It is also in my dad’s restaurant I fell in love with the wine region after my first sip of Amarone that happend to be from Allegrini. After that sip I got the taste for more… and even after having tasted lots, I must admit that Allegrini’s Amarone is definitely in my top 3 (of Amarone’s). FYI I’m not saying this to suck up or so because I’m writing an article about Allegrini wines, it is just a fact that I am sharing with you :-).
Making wine is something for very patient people and takes a lot of effort (lots of manual labor) and as if wasn’t hard enough the first wine makers from the Valpolicella region thought they could make it even harder. What distinquighes Valpolicella wine making, or at least for Amarone (the Top Valpolicella wine) , from other wines is that after picking the grapes they are put in bins (they used to be in wood, but nowadays in plastic) to let them loose their juices naturally… so you can imagine that it takes a while before the juices is out of the grapes. From the juice they make Amarone wine and from the juice there still is in the grapes they make Ripasso which comes from the word ‘ripassare’ which means ‘re-use’ of the grapes from the Amarone. After this the wines also age in wooden barrels for while. So this is why a an Amarone costs a bit more than the usual bottle of wine, but for me it is definitely worth the price (not for every day of course). I know some people will say they don’t get the ‘fuzz’ around Amarone wines… this is probably a judgement based on an Amarone bought in a supermarket, not that you can’t buy good wines in a supermarket, but some top wines you just have to try the best to understand why it is so highly appreciated! To those people I say try an Amarone like the one from Allegrini and you’ll immediately it a totally different thing and you’ll get it 🙂 I do know the price is much higher, that’s why you should buy it and drink it at a special occasion
Back to the wine & dine event 🙂 The first part of the evening was actually a wine tasting from wines from other vineyards within the Allegrini group in company of the Allegrini family (Marilisa Allegrini) who explained us more about all the wines (also the rest of the evening) . It were wines from their Corte Giara estate to be more precise. If I’m not wrong it is estate managed an run by the next generation of the Allegrini family Starting off with a Pinot grigio and Soave that are perfect for one a warm summers day with some Parma (or San daniele) ham with some fresh figs under a pergola :-)… to continue with the reds from the same estate with exception for the ‘Palazzo della Torre‘ which is from the ‘original’ Allegrini estate … You would expect the Amarone would be my preferred, but no it were actually the ‘Palazzo della Torre‘ and the Ripasso that got my preference as they had a bigger punch and were richer of taste… not that the Amarone wasn’t good (it was), but maybe I’m more a lover of the classical ‘valpolicella’ or ‘Amarone’ taste and this one didn’t have it 😉 Ooor maybe I just have to try them again with a meal, because then they it might become a whole different story. Stronger wines usual need some food (strong) with it. Just to be sure, I’ll buy a few bottles and compare them again 🙂 🙂 (any excuse to buy good wines is good 😉 )
After the wonderful tasting with little nibbles it was time to start with the official part and try the wines from the ‘original’ Allegrini estate (not to say their best wines). No better way to do this than with a meal prepared by Hans Snijders from Chateau Neercanne !! Which comes down to great dishes cooked to perfection with sauces that make every sauce you tasted before taste like water… I could have eaten a whole pot of sauce (from every dish we were served 🙂 ). Also to eat dishes like this in a magnificent setting like in Chateau Neercanne makes me feel like a king! Somehow it also makes me feel like dressing up like a king from the Renaissance era 🙂 And to make the evening more complete we had Marilisa Allegrini to give us more about the Allegrini wines and even the beautiful Valpolicella region!
I know all the wines they would serve would be good, but personally I was mostly looking forward to taste the bitter-sweet dark chocolate, raisin, dried fig (maybe even a bit of cherry) aroma’s and flavors of the Amarone Classico from Allegrini again!
You guys know I love eating at restaurant Pazzo in Antwerp and you might remember that some time ago I mentioned that chef Ingrid Neven from Pazzo has started her career at Chateau Neercanne… and the first dish we got served at Chateau Neercanne, Marinated salmon with nori, scallop with a avocado cream and Sambai vinaigrette, tasted like a Pazzo dish 🙂 🙂 how funny is that?? I think it was the taste of the sambai vinaigrette that gave me this idea …So now I know where Ingrid learned to make her great vinaigrette’s and sauces 🙂 A very beautiful dish with refreshing flavors with a perfect sweet, sour lemony taste … something that always makes me happy and that got well balanced out with the Soave DOC from Allegrini
What followed only went crescendo. starting with a in soy , ginger and brown sugar marinated duck with apple chutney that was in perfect harmonization with the La Grola ‘s dark fruit (wild berries) flavors
The frosting on the cake was without any doubt the Angus with stewed angus, chanterelles and gnocchi with Belper cheese… I know the dish looks small on the dish, but it was very big in flavors that were needed to be able to match up with a strong wine like the Amarone Classico from Allegrini.
A meal stands or falls with the last dish you get, as that is the one that stays longest in your memory… There are lots of restaurants where you’ll get a wonderful meal, but where dessert is just ok, not the sweet piece of heaven you would want at the end of your meal… Hans Snijders in our case managed to make a goal with the dessert he served us, a taste of Dulcey chocolate, creamy caramel and flavours of coffee… I was afraid the coffee flavors would be too present, but the were well balanced out. We were served a recioto della Valpolicella Classico which is a sweeter wine with accents of cherries… We were even served a little meringue pie as second dessert 🙂
We had a wonderful evening!! First of all because of the lovely company at my table who I consider as family (of course my dad is actually family, but you know what I mean 🙂 🙂 )… but it would have been this fun without Hans Snijders, Marilisa Allegrini and their know-how of making good products !! Thank you to them and their teams for giving us an unforgettable evening