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Veneto Wine

Veneto Wine

The Veneto region of Italy stands as a testament to the diversity and richness of Italian winemaking. Home to some of the most recognizable and celebrated wines, Veneto offers a wide array of styles, from the effervescent charm of Prosecco to the deep, brooding intensity of Amarone. This article unfolds the pages of Veneto's wine story, offering wine aficionados and curious explorers alike a comprehensive insight into its vinous treasures.

Geographical and Climatic Influences on Veneto's Viticulture

Veneto stretches from the Dolomite Mountains to the Adriatic Sea, encapsulating a vast range of climatic environments and soil types. This geographical diversity is reflected in the wide array of wines produced in the region. The cooler Alpine climate in the north favors crisp, aromatic white wines and sparkling wines, while the warmer plains and rolling hills in the south are conducive to the production of fuller-bodied reds and rich, sweet wines.

Veneto's Notable Wine Zones and Styles
The Sparkling Prosecco from Valdobbiadene and Conegliano

Prosecco is Veneto's sparkling gem. The region between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano is particularly renowned, with its steep hillsides producing grapes that translate into wines with finesse and elegance. Prosecco Superiore DOCG, particularly from the Cartizze hill, is considered the pinnacle of quality, showcasing nuanced expressions of Glera, the primary grape used in Prosecco production.

The Rich Reds of Valpolicella

The Valpolicella zone produces a range from the light, fruity Valpolicella Classico to the more substantial Valpolicella Ripasso, which gains complexity and body by being "repassed" over the skins of grapes used for Amarone. The region's crown jewel, however, is Amarone della Valpolicella, made from partially dried grapes, resulting in a wine of remarkable concentration and aging potential. Alongside Amarone, the sweet Recioto della Valpolicella provides a luscious counterpart.

Soave's Sublime Whites

Soave, a name that evokes the smooth and harmonious nature of these wines, is made primarily from the Garganega grape. The best expressions come from the Soave Classico zone, where volcanic soils impart a distinctive minerality to the wines. Soave Superiore DOCG represents the peak of quality, with regulations demanding lower yields and higher alcohol content, producing wines with greater intensity and structure.

The Distinguished Dessert Wines of the Region

Beyond the still and sparkling, Veneto also excels in sweet wines. The Vin Santo from Treviso, made from air-dried Garganega and Trebbiano grapes, offers a luscious and aromatic dessert wine option. The region's mastery of appassimento (the process of drying grapes) is not limited to its reds; it also crafts exquisite sweet whites.

The Bardolino and Colli Euganei Wine Zones

The Bardolino zone, along the shores of Lake Garda, produces light reds from the same grape varieties as Valpolicella. The Colli Euganei area, known for its volcanic hills, gives birth to a range of wines, including the Fior d'Arancio, a sweet and fragrant Moscato.

The Grape Varieties Shaping Veneto's Wine Profile

While Glera is the star in Prosecco, other varietals such as Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara are the backbone of Valpolicella's reds. Garganega shines in Soave, and international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Franc have also found a foothold in the region's fertile soils.

Winemaking Traditions and Innovations in Veneto

Veneto's winemaking traditions are steeped in history, yet the region is no stranger to innovation. The practice of appassimento is an ancient technique still central to Amarone production, while the charmat method, used to create Prosecco, represents the modern side of Veneto's winemaking prowess.

Pairing Veneto's Wines with Food

The region's culinary diversity mirrors its viticultural variety, making for perfect pairing opportunities. Prosecco is a versatile companion to appetizers and seafood, while the rich Amarone pairs splendidly with game and aged cheeses. Soave's crispness complements light pasta dishes and poultry, and sweet wines like Recioto are delightful with pastries and blue cheeses.

Sustainable Practices in Veneto's Vineyards

Sustainability is increasingly at the forefront of Veneto's viticultural philosophy. Many producers are embracing organic and biodynamic practices, minimizing their environmental impact while expressing the region's terroir more faithfully.

Wine Tourism in Veneto: Experiencing the Region's Oenological Offerings

Veneto's wine routes are a draw for tourists, offering a journey through picturesque landscapes dotted with historic wineries. Visitors can indulge in tastings, tours, and harvest activities, immersing themselves in the local wine culture.

The Future of Wine in Veneto: Preserving Tradition While Embracing Change

As Veneto looks to the future, the region holds a delicate balance between honoring its winemaking heritage and adapting to changing climates and market demands. Innovation in the vineyard and winery continues to propel Veneto's wines to new heights, securing their place on the global stage.

Conclusion: Veneto's Place in the Pantheon of Great Wine Regions

Veneto's wine repertoire is as varied as it is impressive. The region's vintners, with their deep respect for tradition and a dynamic approach to innovation, continue to craft wines that speak of the land and its history. From a sprightly Prosecco to a profound Amarone, the wines of Veneto capture the essence of the region's winemaking spirit, making it an indispensable chapter in the world's wine narrative. As each bottle is uncorked, it tells a story of passion, place, and the unending pursuit of viticultural perfection—a story that Veneto is proud to share with the world.

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Notable Wines of Veneto

Veneto, in northeastern Italy, is a prolific wine-producing region that offers a broad spectrum of wine styles. Here's a comprehensive list that captures the breadth of Veneto's wines, showcasing the diversity of this Italian viticultural area:

Sparkling Wines:
  • Prosecco (DOC and DOCG) - Made predominantly from Glera grapes; styles range from the light and approachable frizzante (lightly sparkling) to the more serious spumante (fully sparkling).
    • Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
    • Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG
    • Prosecco DOC Treviso
    • Prosecco DOC Piave
  • Lessini Durello - A sparkling wine made from the Durella grape, known for its high acidity and volcanic minerality.
White Wines:
  • Soave (DOC and DOCG) - Primarily made from Garganega grapes, ranging from crisp and light Soave DOC to the more complex Soave Classico and Soave Superiore DOCG.
  • Gambellara - Another white wine that focuses on the Garganega grape, similar to Soave but less well-known.
  • Bianco di Custoza - A blend of Garganega, Trebbiano, and other white varietals, creating a light and refreshing wine.
  • Pinot Grigio delle Venezie - Characteristically crisp and dry with a solid structure.
  • Lugana - Made on the southern shore of Lake Garda from Turbiana grapes, known for its balance and minerality.
Red Wines:
  • Valpolicella (including Classico, Superiore, and Ripasso) - Made from a blend of local varietals, predominantly Corvina, with Valpolicella Ripasso being passed over the lees of Amarone for added complexity.
  • Amarone della Valpolicella - A rich and powerful wine made from partially dried grapes, primarily Corvina and Rondinella.
  • Recioto della Valpolicella - The sweet version of Amarone, concentrated and often enjoyed as a dessert wine.
  • Bardolino - A lighter red from the same grape varieties as Valpolicella, with a focus on fresh, fruity characteristics.
  • Merlot del Veneto - International varieties like Merlot have also been successful in Veneto, offering softer, plummy alternatives.
Dessert Wines:
  • Recioto di Soave - A sweet wine produced from dried Garganega grapes, similar in process to Recioto della Valpolicella but with white grapes.
  • Recioto di Gambellara - This is a sweet white wine made from dried Garganega grapes, sharing similarities with Recioto di Soave.
  • Torcolato di Breganze - Made from Vespaiola grapes that have been dried, producing a richly sweet wine.
Other Wine Styles:
  • Colli Euganei Fior d'Arancio - A sweet and often sparkling wine made from the Moscato Giallo grape, with a distinct orange blossom aroma.
  • Veneto IGT - A designation that includes various wine styles from the region that do not conform to stricter DOC/DOCG regulations.
  • Rosato wines - These rosé-style wines can be found throughout the region, made from a variety of red grapes.
  • Novello wines - Similar to Beaujolais Nouveau, these are young, fresh wines released shortly after harvest.

Veneto's wine production is characterized by a blend of high-volume DOC wines and smaller-scale DOCG offerings, all underpinned by a tradition of quality and innovation. The list above represents the region's primary wines, but the full scope of Veneto's wine production includes numerous other local and experimental wines, as well as variations within the DOC/DOCG classifications, each with its own unique character.

Italian Wines
  • Italian Red Grapes
    • Sangiovese

      • The most well known of the Italian grapes and responsible for the famous Tuscan wines. Using tradional techniques, the wines are earthy, full of cherry fruit and cedar. The wines produced include such famous names as: Chianti, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, Montefalco Rosso. The "Super-Tuscans", produced for the international market, blend the Sangiovese grape with Bordeaux varietals such as: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and often used French oak barrels to age.

    • Nebbiolo

      • Translated, the name means: "Little Fog", which refers to the autumn fog common in the region of Piedmont where it is grown. The grape seems to like these conditions but is difficult to cultivate otherwise. It is responsible for the famous wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, both produced in the Cuneo province of Piedmont. Barolo is often kept for more than 50 years, and is considered by many to be the greatest wine produced in Italy.

    • Montepulciano

      • This grape is planted in Abruzzo,and should not be confused with the town of the same name in Tuscany. It produces a wine with silky plum-like fruit, friendly acidity, and light tannin, recent bottles have improved greatly on those in the past.

    • Barbera

      • This grape is the most widely grown in Piedmont and southern Lombardy, particularly around the towns of Asti, Alba and Pavia. Previously, the Barbera wines were considered a poor alternative to Barolo, but recently they have improved dramatically. The wine has bright cherry fruit, a very dark color, and a food-friendly acidity. It is being produced increasingly for the international market.

    • Corvina

      • This is the grape that makes Valpolicella and Amarone, the best known wines of the Veneto. Valpolicella has dark cherry fruit and spice. If the grapes are dried, a process called "passito", they produce a wine called Amarone. Some are aged for more than 40 years and can command extremely high prices. Amarone di Valpolicella was awarded DOCG status in 2009.

    • Nero dAvola

      • A native varietal of Sicily, this grape was virtually unheard of a few years ago. Now, the quality of the wine is improving steadily and it is becoming increasingly popular on the international market for its plummy fruit and sweet tannins.

    • Dolcetto

      • This grape is called "Little Sweet One", because it is easy to grow and produces great wines for everyday drinking. It is grown alongside the Barbera and Nebbiola grapes in Piedmont and produces wine with flavors of concord grape, wild blackberries and herbs.

    • Negroamaro

      • Translated, the name means "Black and Bitter". It is grown extensively in the region of Puglia where it is used to produce the Salento wines: spicy, toasty, and full of dark red fruits.

    • Aglianico

      • Considered by many to be the "Noble Varietal of the south" Aglianico grapes are primarily grown in the regions of Campania and Basilicata. The name is derived from Hellenic, so the grape is considered to be a Greek transplant. Thick skinned and spicy, the wines are often both rustic and powerful.

    • Sagrantino

      • This grape is native to Umbria. It is only planted on 250 hectares, but the wines produced from it are world-renowned. Inky purple, with rustic brooding fruit and heavy tannins, these wines can age for many years.

    • Malvasia Nera

      • Red Malvasia varietal from Piedmont. A sweet and perfumed wine, sometimes elaborated in the passito style.

Other major red varieties are Ciliegolo, Gaglioppo, Lagrein, Lambrusco, Monica, Nerello Mascalese, Pignolo, Primitivo (Zinfandel in California), Refosco, Schiava, Schiopettino, Teroldego, and Uva di Troia. "International" varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc are also widely grown.

  • Italian White Grapes
    • Catarratto

      • This is the most widely planted white varietal in Salaparuta, south western Sicily.

    • Trebbiano

      • This is the most widely planted white varietal in Italy. It is grown throughout the country, with a special focus on the wines from Abruzzo and from Lazio, including Frascati. Mostly, they are pale, easy drinking wines, but trebbiano from producers such as Valentini have been known to age for 15+ years. It is known as Ugni Blanc in France.

    • Moscato

      • Grown mainly in Piedmont, it is mainly used in the slightly-sparkling (frizzante), semi-sweet Moscato d"Asti. Not to be confused with moscato giallo and moscato rosa, two Germanic varietals that are grown in Trentino- Alto-Adige.

    • Nuragus

      • An ancient Phoenician varietal found in southern Sardegna. Light and tart wines that are drunk as an apertif in their homeland.

    • Pinot Grigio

      • A hugely successful commercial grape (known as Pinot Gris in France), its wines are characterized by crispness and cleanness. As a hugely mass-produced wine, it is usually delicate and mild, but in a good producers" hands, the wine can grow more full-bodied and complex. The main problem with the grape is that to satisfy the commercial demand, the grapes are harvested too early every year, leading to wines without character.

    • Tocai Friulano

      • A varietal distantly related to Sauvignon Blanc, it yields the top wine of Friuli, full of peachiness and minerality. Currently, there is a bit of controversy regarding the name, as the EC has demanded it changed to avoid confusion with the Tokay dessert wine from Hungary.

    • Ribolla Gialla

      • A Slovenian grape that now makes its home in Friuli, these wines are decidedly old-world, with aromas of pineapple and mustiness.

    • Arneis

      • A crisp and floral varietal from Piedmont, which has been grown there since the 15th century.

    • Malvasia Bianca

      • Another white varietal that peeks up in all corners of Italy with a wide variety of clones and mutations. Can range from easy quaffers to funky, musty whites.

    • Pigato

      • A heavily acidic varietal from Liguria, the wines are vinified to pair with a cuisine rich in seafood.

    • Fiano
      • Grown on the southwest coast of Italy, the wines from this grape can be described as dewy and herbal, often with notes of pinenut and pesto.
    • Garganega

      • The main grape varietal for wines labeled Soave, this is a crisp, dry white wine from the Veneto wine region of Italy. It"s a very popular wine that hails from northeast Italy around the city of Verona. Currently, there are over 3,500 distinct producers of Soave.

    • Vermentino

      • This is widely planted in northern Sardinia and also found in Tuscan and Ligurian coastal districts. Wines are particularly popular to accompany fish and seafood.

    • Verdicchio

      • This is grown in the areas of Castelli di Jesi and Matelica in the Marche region and gives its name to the varietal white wine made from it. The name comes from "verde" (green). The white wines are noted for their high acidity and a characteristic nutty flavour with a hint of honey.

Other important whites include Carricante, Catarratto, Coda de Volpe, Cortese, Falanghina, Grechetto, Grillo, Inzolia, Picolit, Traminer, Verduzzo, and Vernaccia. As far as non-native varietals, the Italians plant Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer (sometimes called traminer aromatico), Riesling, Petite Arvine, and many others.

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