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  ABC Wine Issue 29, April 2005   
VenetoVeneto  Contents 
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Veneto

Amarone, Recioto, Soave, Prosecco: just few names of wines renowned all over the world and which are from the very same northern region in Italy, among the main wine producing areas of the country

 Veneto is one of the main Italian regions in terms of quantitative production of grape, the wines produced in this region are famous in every country of the world. Amarone, Recioto, Soave, Prosecco, Valpolicella and Bardolino, are just few names known all over the world and in most of the cases they do not only identify Veneto's wine but also the Italian one. The most interesting characteristic of Veneto is certainly represented by the fact the success of its wines is mainly determined by the many autochthonous grapes cultivated in the region, both white and red. Garganega, Trebbiano di Soave and Prosecco are among the main grapes used for the production of white wines; Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Raboso are the ones mainly used for the production of red wines. The enology of Veneto has a wide ampelographic wealth and territorial differences allowing a production of wines having many qualities, from light and crisp wines up to the most robust and full bodied ones, such as Amarone.

 The history of wine in Veneto - just like any other Italian region - begins in very ancient ages, far before the times of Greeks - to whom is usually recognized the introduction of vine in Italy - as it is widely proven by important archaeological discoveries. It is believed vine was present as a wild plant in Veneto since many centuries before Christ and grape was used by the people of those time as a food. The first evidences about wine production in Veneto are dated back to the seventh century BC by the Etruscan-Raetic people, in particular Arusnati. The first important written information about the production of wine in this area are dated back to Roman times, when the wines from Raetia were praised for their qualities. The renowned Raetic wine - produced with Raetic grape - was praised by important authors of the past such as Columella, Celso Aulo Cornelius, Martial, Strabone, Suetonius, Pliny the Elder and, in particular, Virgil who believed this wine to be second only to the famous Falerno.


The Veneto and Its Main Wine Areas
The Veneto and Its Main Wine Areas

 Another important wine particularly famous after the fall of the Roman empire was Acinatico, a sweet wine which can be considered the real ancestor of Recioto di Soave, Recioto di Gambellara and Recioto della Valpolicella. It was a sweet wine produced with grapes dried on mats and subsequently vinified. Acinatico was so appreciated that Flavius Magnus Aurelius Senator - also known as Cassiodore and mininster of the Ostrogothic king Teodoricus - has left his witness in a writing where he described the qualities of this wine and his highest appreciation. Despite Barbarian people who invaded these lands appreciated these wines, they were also responsible for devastating most of vineyards. It was only in 643 AD the vineyards of Veneto were for the first time and by law protected by a special edict. The Longobard king Rotari promulgated an edict which set penalties to anyone responsible for vineyards damages or was responsible of stealing grapes.

 Similar edicts have been promulgated in later times, the cultivation of vine was widely favored and its spreading was so high which also reached the inside walls of many cities. During the Middle Age, the development of viticulture and wine making in Veneto was also determined by the commercial power of Venice, which does not only favored the exportation of Veneto's wines in other countries, it also favored the introduction of foreign wines, in particular the ones from Greece and Cyprus. Venetian merchants - besides importing wine - also introduced new vine species, while promoting its spreading in the neighboring territories, such as Malvasia that from Venice has spread in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Dalmatia. Even the famous glass makers of Murano contributed to the spreading of wine and its best appreciation. The refined bottles and glasses from Murano rapidly spread in the tables of noble people therefore replacing earthenware, silver and pewter containers. The new glass containers were associated with quality wines and in a short time - in simpler and less valued shapes - reached the tables of the common people all over Europe.


 

 With the decay of the commercial power of Venice in the Mediterranean area and in particular in the Eastern countries - around the half of 1500's - the import of Greek wines was drastically reduced while offering an opportunity of development for local wines. It began in this period the fame of the wines from Treviso, Vicenza and, of course, the Valpolicella area. During the sixteenth century the destiny of Veneto's wine was characterized by periods of high appreciation as well as of decay, in particular because of devastations caused by wars and pestilence. In 1709 was recorded an incredible cold season which - because of frosts - destroyed most of vineyards, an event which dramatically changed the viticulture in Veneto. After this catastrophic event the viticulture of Veneto was approximate and the production of wine faced the same destiny. It was only in 1800's that was recorded an attempt in order to start a new development of Veneto's enology by studying the characteristics of the territory and of the grapes which were best suited: a first and important step towards the rebirth of quality.

 Despite these new attempts, other dreadful catastrophes were about to happen, not only in Veneto, but all over Europe. Around the half of the 1800's, with the advent of oidium, began a new dark era for viticulture, followed by mildew and then phylloxera. These unlucky events did not influence the impulse towards the rebirth of Veneto's enology which was started in the past years. In 1876 was established the renowned School of Enology of Conegliano and in 1923 the Experimental Station of Viticulture and Enology. Thanks to the studies and the efforts of these two important institutes, it was possible to give a strong impulse to Veneto's enology towards the challenge of the 1900's which also favored the introduction in the region of international grapes, an event which did not affect the spreading of local grapes. After the 1950's - in Veneto as well as in other Italian regions - began a new future for enology and everyone understood the strategical importance of quality: a process which has strongly developed during the 1990's and still today is in progress.

 

Classification of Veneto

 Wines produced in Veneto are classified according to the quality system in force in Italy. The highest level of this system is identified as DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) which includes a higher classification in case it is mentioned the subarea of production. The following levels are DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Denomination of Controlled Origin), IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica, Typical Geographic Indication) and Vino da Tavola (Table Wine). In Veneto are currently defined the following DOCG areas: Bardolino Superiore, Recioto di Soave and Soave Superiore. The current DOC areas of Veneto are: Arcole, Bagnoli, Bardolino, Bianco di Custoza, Breganze, Colli Berici, Colli di Conegliano, Colli Euganei, Gambellara, Garda, Lison-Pramaggiore, Lugana, Merlara, Montello-Colli Asolani, Monti Lessini, Piave, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, San Martino della Battaglia, Soave, Valdadige, Valpolicella and Vicenza.

 

Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto

 The most renowned red wines of Veneto are the ones produced in Valpolicella (also known as Valpantena) of which the most representative one certainly is Amarone. This wine - rich, complex and strong - is generally produced with Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. Amarone is produced with dried grapes - just like Recioto - which after been vinified give a strong and concentrated wine. Whereas Amarone is a dry wine, Recioto contains some residual sugar which determines its sweetness. Amarone can be considered as a wine derived from Recioto, usually defined in Valpolicella as a Recioto scapà - a dialectal form meaning fled Recioto - like to say a Recioto which was fermented too long. Famous is the ripasso (to pass again) technique used to give more body to Valpolicella red wines. This technique consists in pouring a red wine in the pomace of Recioto or Amarone, therefore giving the wine a higher quantity of aromas and a fuller body and - in case of Recioto pomace - a certain quantity of sweetness as well. Valpolicella's red wines are mainly produced with the same grapes used for Amarone and Recioto.

 

Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene

 The Conegliano area, and in particular Valdobbiadene, is famous in the world for the production of sparkling wines made with Prosecco grape. The celebrity of these sparkling wines is so high that sometimes the term Prosecco is believed to refer to the specific name of the wine or to its sweetness. Indeed Prosecco is the name of the grape used for its production and whose origin is from Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Sparkling wines from this area are produced with the Charmat method - or Martinotti method - very suited to the exaltation of the aromatic qualities of Prosecco grape. Particularly appreciated is the Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze which is named after the homonymous area near San Pietro in Barbozza, in the commune of Valdobbiadene. The territory of Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze has an acreage of about one hundred hectares (about 250 acres) in which are being produced more than one million of bottles. Prosecco - besides being produced in many sweet versions - is also produced in slightly sparkling version and tranquillo, that is vinified according to the usual wine making techniques in order to get a still dry wine.

 

Soave and Recioto di Soave

 The most famous white wines of Veneto certainly are the ones produced in the Soave area, near Verona, in which is found the highest expression of two famous white berried grapes of the region: Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave. The classic production area includes two communes only - Soave and Monteforte d'Alpone - and here are being produced the best white wines of this DOC area. This production area also includes a denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin (DOCG) exclusively reserved to Soave Superiore wines. Besides dry table wines, the Soave denomination also produces sparkling wines, both classic method and Charmat. The first wine - and therefore the first wine area - to which was recognized the first DOCG of Veneto is Recioto di Soave. This wine is produced with grapes allowed to dry for about six months - mainly Garganega - and then vinified. The result is an interesting sweet wine in which it is possible to recognize pleasing aromas of dried apricot, citrus fruits and honey, an enchanting wine perfect for confectionery and that can be appreciated alone as a meditation wine.

 

Colli Euganei, Breganze and Torcolato

 One of the most interesting areas in the province of Padua certainly is Colli Euganei. In this area are being produced interesting wines - white, red and sparkling - however the most interesting one is Fior d'Arancio (Orange Blossom), in particular its sweet version, produced with Moscato Giallo (Goldmuskateller). In this area is also produced an interesting wine - Serprino - with Prosecco grape and of which the most typical style is slightly sparkling. The red wines of Colli Euganei are generally produced with international grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, as well as Raboso and Barbera. For the production of white wines are generally used the grapes Tocai Italico, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Garganega, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinello. The wine area of Breganze - in the province of Vicenza - offers a valuable production of white and red wines and - in particular - the excellent and renowned Torcolato. Even in this area are being cultivated international grapes - with which are being produced both white and red wines - however the most characteristic variety of this area is Vespaiolo. With this grape variety are produced interesting white dry wines, however its best expression is obtained after a proper drying and from which is produced the renowned Torcolato, a wonderful sweet wine appreciated worldwide.

 

Other Production Areas

 Many of the areas recognized as denomination of controlled origin in Veneto have made famous the enology of the region and of Italy in the world. Among them is certainly included Bardolino, whose wines are generally produced with the same grapes of Amarone, however having a lesser structure and character. In this area is also produced the Bardolino Superiore to which is recognized the DOCG status. Another renowned white wine from Veneto is Bianco di Custoza - of which in recent times is also allowed the production in the sparkling and sweet styles - made with the grapes Trebbiano Toscano, Garganega, Tocai Friulano, Cortese, Riesling Italico, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Malvasia Toscana. Particularly interesting is the production area of Gambellara and in particular the Recioto di Gambellara wine - produced with Garganega grape - as well as the rare Vin Santo. Veneto shares three DOC areas with the neighboring Lombardy and from which are produced interesting wines: Lugana, San Martino della Battaglia and Garda. A particular mention goes to Raboso - protagonist of the Piave wine area - a grape rich in tannins and acid from which are being produced interesting and robust red wines.

 




 Editorial  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of ABC Wine column Wine Tasting 
  ABC Wine Issue 29, April 2005   
VenetoVeneto  Contents 
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