The larger region of Veneto is located in the north-eastern part of Italy. It gets its name from Venice, the capital city. To the east is Friuli-Venezia Giulia. To the south is Emilia Romagna, to the west is Lombardy. To the north is Trentino-Alto-Adige.
Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world, and holds a great artistic culture heritage, receiving 50,000 tourists a day. Much too numerous to mention, but some of the highlights being, St Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal, the Piazza San Marco, and Juliet’s wall. Yes, Juliet actually has a wall in Venice where people come to pray and write their prayers on paper and stick the scrolls into the wall. NV Pasqua Romeo & Juliet's Wall Prosecco’s label is of a photo taken of this wall. The wine is good too. If you are into films, there is a snooty film festival in Venice as a tourist attraction. But this topic is wine.
The vast majority of flat and softly rolling land that surrounds Venice is intended for Prosecco, where the grape is called Glera. Plantings of Glera out-pace any other grape in the region. On occasion, the product volume of Glera out-clips wine produced in Champagne. There is a highly appellated region of Valdobbiadene Superior di Cartizze DOCG where the grapes grow on steep mountain slope closer to the Italian Alps on the north side of Veneto. Here the juice of the Glera is so delicate, the bubbles so tine, the acidity so perfect. Truly, the region is the “Champagne” of prosecco. The NV Rebuli Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superior di Cartizze DOCG comes from this region.
Moving west of Tarvisio (prosecco DOC), where Soave and Soave Classico’s Garganega grapes grow, which is the second-most-grown grape in Veneto. And a one time, out-produced Pinot Grigio, both in volume and in profitability in the second half of the 20th century. These grapes grow on the eastern side of Verona. The 2021 Cantina di Gambellara Soave DOC Prime Brume has aromas of white flowers, apple, melon, lemon, pear, and is lightly selenic, with crisp acidity zingyness. It is a fun summer kind of wine, as it goes with light salads, butter chicken, and lightens up your Past Carbonara.
To the west of Soave is Lake Garda, from which picturesque appellations of Bardolino, Amarone Della Valpolicella, and Valpolicella Ripasso come. Classically, vineyards grow Corvina, Corivone, Rondinella, and Molinara. A quick side note, there is a producer’s organization called the Valpolicella Consorzio, for which about 80 percent of the producers are members. This group takes on the marketing and promotional activity for the wineries, which can lower costs.
For most regions of the world, grapes that grow together tend to blend well together. It stands true for these western Veneto appellations. So who brings what to the party (blend)?
Corvina – Mostly blended in Valpolicella and related wines (See above). In blends, it contributes violet, red cherry, and red plum fruit, with an herbal note and low to medium tannins and high acidity. It is typically the highest proportion of the blend, comprising between 40 to 70 percent of the wine. In lesser amounts, Rondinella contributes structure and Molinara acidity.
Corvinone – Despite its name, “big Corvina,” probably arising from its big clusters, this variety is not related to Corvina. It is prone to downy mildew. The principal problem in growing the variety is that the berries do not ripen uniformly and therefore the fruit must be picked over bunch by bunch at harvest, adding work and cost. Corvinone is a good complement to Corvina in blends, as it supplies tannins, while also contributing red cherry fruit flavors.
Rondinella – This very reliable and productive variety can grow on a range of soils. It has good disease resistance (and therefore is good for drying), but is prone to esca. It can yield rather neutral wines with light, simple cherry fruit. In the Amarone blend, it contributes structure. It accumulates sugar very fast, and so is useful for Recioto. For Amarone, it provides for the increased alcohol amount.
Molinara – This is a high-yielding variety that has been grown less in recent years, due to the pale color of the wines, with producers (and the market) preferring deeper colored wines. It contributes acidity, red-berried fruit and lightness.
To explore these guys further, you need to do some research. Of course, that means sampling a few things. This weekend City Vino will be tasting 2021 Zeni Vigene Alte Bardolino, which is a lovely rosé with sweet gardenia floral notes, ripe strawberries, red cherries, and citrus. Also, on the tasting bar will be 2020 Zeni Corvina Bordolino that really shows what Corvina is all about, all by itself.
Extra homework for you then are a couple other wines, not on the tasting bar, include 2018 Azienda Agricola Crosarola Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superior, which is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella. Ripasso means “pass through.” In this case, the wine made has been passed through the fermented skins of the bigger wine, Amarone. So your other wine homework is to try 2017 Corte Adami Amarone Della Valpolicella.
Happy day, see you soon, Cheers!