The V’s of the Veneto
February 19, 2013 2 Comments
This week at the Bubbly Professor it’s all about the Veneto! A few days ago in our “Fast Fact Fridays” post we introduced the Veneto. Today we are delving deeper into the subject…and later this week we’ll follow up with a detailed post on the 15 (and counting) DOCG’s of this beautiful region. We’ll finish up, in true Bubbly Professor Style, with a quiz! Enjoy your studies and try not to dream of Venice…too much.
The V’s of the Veneto Wine Region
Tre Venezie: The Veneto and two of Italy’s other wine regions, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, are often collectively referred to as the Tre Venezie — the Three Venices. Known for producing much of Italy’s outstanding Pinot Grigio as well as a mind-boggling array of other quality wines, these three regions were once a part of the Venetian Empire.
Valpolicella: The Valpolicella DOC region is located between Bardolino and Soave, just north of Verona. Valpolicella is a red wine made primarily from Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. Corvina is considered the superior grape and usually makes up a majority of the blend. Other minor grapes used in Valpolicella include Rossignola, Negrara, Barbera, and Sangiovese, which can comprise up to 15% of the blend. Some producers are experimenting with the indigeneous Oseleta grape variety as well.
Some of the best Valpolicella wines come from the steeply terraced vineyard area designated as the Classico zone. Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classico, and Valpolicella Superiore are all DOC’s. The very popular Amarone della Valpolicella, a rich, dry (usually) version made in the passito style, as well a sweet version known as Recioto della Valpolicella, were both awarded DOCG status in 2010.
Valpantena: Valpantena refers to the Pantena Valley region, a region-within-a-region in located in Valpolicella. Wine made from grapes grown in the Valpantena region is produced under the Valpolicella DOC and may be labeled as “Valpolicella-Valpantena.”
Valdobbiadene: If you’re going to know the Veneto, you have to know Prosecco! This beloved spumante (or sometimes frizzante or even still) is made from the Glera grape variety. If you “thought you knew” that the grape variety was also named Prosecco, you were correct up until just a while ago. In 2009 the EU decided that the term “Prosecco” should just apply to the geographical region of Prosecco, and changed the name of the grape variety to Glera, an old synonym of Prosecco-the-grape.
Prosecco is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most popular wines. Most of these bubblies are produced using the tank or Charmat methods, but “serious” méthod traditionelle Prosecco, even some bottled with the lees, is produced as well. Prosecco may be blended up to 15% with Bianchetta, Perera, Chardonnay, and Glera Lunga; as well as other minor grapes, all of which have been grown in the area for centuries.
Valdobbiadene, one of the main Prosecco-producing towns, is located about 40 miles northwest of Venice. The other town well-known for quality Prosecco is Conegliano; the best versions of Prosecco are generally sold with either the name of Valdobbiadene or Conegliano (or Valdobbiadene-Conegliano) attached. The entire Prosecco region, recently expanded, is a DOC. Two DOCG’s, Colli Asolani (aka Asolo Prosecco), and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, were awarded in 2009.
Vicenza: Located about 30 miles to the west of Verona, Vicenza is a thriving and cosmopolitan city, despite its small (115,000) population. The city surrounds the Bacchiglion River and sits at the base of Monte Berico. It is said that the Blessed Virgin appeared twice on this hill in the 1420’s and promised that if the people of Vicenza built a church on the top of the hill she would rid them of the plague. The people kept their side of the promise and the Basilica di Santa Maria di Monte Berico was built in 3 months.
Verona: Verona is a small city that straddles the Adige River. Home to about 265,000 inhabitants, it is a major tourist attraction due to its artistic heritage, annual fairs, and lyrical opera performances in an ancient amphitheater built by the Romans. Three of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew. The area surrounding Verona is home to three of the Veneto’s most well-known wines: Soave, Bardolino, and Valpolicella.
The Soave DOC is located about 10 miles to the east of Verona. Soave is a dry white wine produced from 70% Garganega grapes with Pinot Bianco, Trebbiano di Soave (Verdicchio), and Chardonnay making up most of the remaining 30%. The grape varieties Tai, Cortese, Riesling Italico, Vespaiolo and Serprina are also allowed and used in small percentages. Most Soave is a dry, still wine; however, a small amount of sparkling wine is made as well. Soave and Soave Classico are both DOC’s. Recioto di Soave, a sweet wine made in the passito style, received a DOCG in 1998; Soave Superiore received a DOCG in 2001.
The Bardolino region is about 30 miles west of Verona, close to Lake Garda. Bardolino is a light red wine made primarily from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grape varieties (the same grapes as Valpolicella). Barbera, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are allowed in small amounts as well. Bardolino and Bardolino Classico are both DOC’s. Bardolino Superiore was awarded a DOCG in 2001. A rosé version, Bardolino Chiaretto, is produced in both still and sparkling versions. A light, early-release version, Bardolino Novello, must be bottled and released prior to the end of the vintage year.
Venice: Known as “La Serenissima,” the serene one, Venice is also called City of Masks, City of Water, City of Bridges and The Floating City. Venice is renowned for its beauty, its heritage, and its fragility. Venice was once described by Luigi Barzini in the New York Times as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man.” Need I say more?
In the next few days we’ll continue our “Veneto Study Pack” with some information on the DOCG’s of the Veneto and a Veneto Mini Quiz!
The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… firstname.lastname@example.org