Venice’s region has emerged in recent times as Italy’s largest producer of wine with a major share classified as DOC or DOCG (more than 300 million bottles a year). Leading the flow is Verona’s trio of Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino. But since DOC represents less than a third of the region’s total, the Veneto also figures as a major producer and exporter of IGT wines, often of moderate price.
The Veneto has three general areas of premium wine production: the western province of Verona in the hills between Lake Garda and the town of Soave; the central hills in the provinces of Vicenza, Padova and Treviso; the eastern plains of the Piave and Tagliamento river basins along the Adriatic coast northeast of Venice.
In the region of Veneto, Verona’s classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also produced. Soave Superiore and Recioto di Soave have been promoted to DOCG, while regular Soave remains DOC. The most popular of Italian dry whites ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines.
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks among Italy’s most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino, from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the red Superiore, which has become DOCG, or the dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume among classified wines.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto’s central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso’s province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai, Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals.
Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity.
Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style. Veneto shares five DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.
Bardolino Superiore DOCG
Recioto di Soave DOCG
Soave Superiore DOCG
Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli DOC
Bianco di Custoza DOC
Colli Berici DOC
Colli di Conegliano DOC
Colli Euganei DOC
Corti Benedettine del Padovano DOC
Montello e Colli Asolani DOC
Monti Lessini or Lessini DOC
Riviera del Brenta DOC
San Martino della Battaglia DOC
Valdadige Terradeiforti DOC
Vini del Piave or Piave DOC
Provincia di Verona or Veronese
Vigneti delle Dolomiti
I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Veneto Region
An article by: Levi Reiss
If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Veneto region of northern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.
Veneto is in the northeast of Italy on the Gulf of Venice. The region is mountainous with all kinds of water, rivers, lakes, lagoons, and of course, canals. In its heyday, during the Renaissance (Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries), the Venetian Republic ruled a large part of northern Italy, and was a major player in the world of commerce and culture.
The present population is about 4.5 million.
Veneto’s capital, Venice, is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, claiming 60 million visitors a year. Its attractions are too numerous to list here. Venice’s neighbor, Padua is the oldest city in northern Italy. Padua was the home of the famous astronomer Gallileo Gallilei.
The metropolitan region encompassing these two cities has over 1.6 million people. Another city of interest is Verona with its numerous
Agricultural products include cattle, corn, wheat, sugar beets, and of course grapes. With all the water you can be sure that fish and seafood abound. Rice is more important than pasta, and lovers of sweets will not be disappointed. Industries include textiles, silk, shipbuilding, and sugar refining, but the major industry remains tourism.
Veneto devotes almost 250 thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 3rd among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 180 million gallons, also giving it a 3rd place. About 45% of the wine production is red or rose’, leaving 55% for white. The region produces 24 DOC wines and 3 DOCG wines, Recioto di Soave, Soave Superiore, and Bardolino Superiore. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee that such wines are truly superior. Almost 30% of Venetian wine carries the DOC or DOCG designation. Veneto is home to about four dozen major and secondary grape varieties, approximately half white and half red.
Widely grown international white grape varieties include Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco, known as Pinot Blanc outside of Italy. The best known strictly Italian white varieties are Garganega and Prosecco.
Widely grown international red grape varieties include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The best known strictly Italian red varieties are Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara.
Before we reviewing the Veneto wine and cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat and with indigenous wine when touring this beautiful region. Start with Pasta e Fagioli; Pasta and Bean Soup. Then try Risotto di Scampi; Scampi Risotto. For dessert indulge yourself with Torta de Pappardelle; Lemon Tagliatelle Cake.
Wine Reviewed Corte Gardoni Bianco di Custoza DOC 2004 12.5% alcohol about $8
I’ll start with the marketing materials. “Floral notes mixed with sweet red Delicious apple and Bosc pear aromatics form the inviting and lifted nose. The flavors are quite different with citrus and green apples coming to the fore. It is light to medium-bodied, providing a tangy finish that would pair well with grilled, firm (tuna or sword) fish.” And now for my thoughts.
This wine was first paired to a commercial chicken pot pie with a bit of chili-lime hot sauce. I tasted some apple. It was quite weak at first, but did pick up some strength.
The next meal was more in line with the marketing suggestions, namely grilled salmon filet and oven-baked potato patties and French fries. While there was some apple taste, essentially the wine didn’t add anything to the meal. However, it went well with dessert, thin biscuits containing almonds and pistachios.
My next trial was with chicken legs in a soy and onion sauce with rice and green beans. The wine was not unpleasant but was light and fleeting.
Montasio cheese is a specialty of the Veneto region. It is made from cow’s milk and can have a sharp flavor when it ages. I was happy when the wine was able to handle this strong cheese. It didn’t do as well with an Asiago cheese, also from the Veneto area.
Final verdict, I won’t be buying this wine again, even at it’s relatively low price.
About the Author
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.