Map of the Veneto
When we think of volcanic soils, some areas come immediately to mind, Sicily and some of its islands, Alto Adige, Basilicata, Campania and of course the Veneto. Then we think about Soave but how long does it take before we get to the Colli Berici? A long time generally, even for those in the know. Despite the fact that the Colli Berici are right near Soave. Why is that? The Colli Berici isn’t an area that is top of mind for many because not that much of the wine is exported. Let’s go on a trip together to this region in the North Eastern part of the Veneto, between the marvelous towns of Vicenza and Padova. It’s absolutely worth it for the wines, the food, the beauty of the area and the amazing Palladian villas that dot the landscape by their native son.
First let’s dish about the volcanic soils in this area. They are a mix of volcanic materials together with calcareous soil and red clay as well as basalt. What is basalt? “Basalt is a dark, fine grained rock that is composed mainly of plagioclase and pyroxene minerals. It usually forms from lava flows, ” according to Geology.com. Rather than being a strictly volcanic area, this one is more mixed but as Attilio Scienza, the renowned grape geneticist told me as a response, which I translated in the above link, to a question, there are very few purely volcanic areas in Italy, most are mixed.
Here we find the coat of arms of Vicenza
The Colli Berici area is about 64 square miles. This group of hills or colli as they are called in Italian rise out of the alluvial plans. The name comes from a high point known as the Monte Berico. The area was once part of a sea and one finds loads of marine fossils and sand and mud in the soils.
The climate here is sunny and since the vineyards are on hills, they have great drainage. The climate in the hills is milder than in the plateaus below and in fact, olive trees grow there.
The Colli Berici produce both red and white wines from a huge area of grapes, including indigenous and international ones. The area became a DOC in 1973. There is also an indigenous variety here that is quite well-known called Tai Rosso. It is said to be in the same family as Grenache, Cannonau and Garnacha.
The wines it produces tend to have red fruit, cherries, raspberries, and floral notes together with some spice and herbs. Fine elegant tannins and a note of minerality with a touch of almond on the finish.
A very specific study on the grape has been carried out in the area to see where to plant this grape. Two areas were carved out as those most adapted to this variety. Barbarano and Lonigo. They reflect different expressions of the grape.
Moreover, there is also a Colli Berici Spumante and a larger number of varietal wines. The Colli Berici Spumante is a classic method or traditional method sparkler. The wines come in white and rose. The grapes are Chardonnay which is usually 50% of the blend with Pinot Bianco or Pinot Nero making up the rest. The reds from Tai Rosso, the Tai Rosso Spumante is 85% Tai Rosso while that from the Subzone Barbarano 100% Tai Rosso.
For the Colli Berici Bianco, the indigenous variety Garganega must make up 30-60% white Sauvignon Blanc makes up 20-50% of the blend. There is also a sweet passito version of Colli Berici Bianco made with at least 50% Garganega which works very well with the appassimento technique as we know. For the whites, varietal wines made from 85% of the grape can be made from Chardonnay, Garganega, Manzoni Bianco, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon, and Tai – which they call Friulano. There is also a Bianco Superiore version.
Colli Berici red wines must have at least 50 – 65% Merlot, 20% Tai Rosso and a max of 30% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Pinot Nero. There are many varietal wines also made from these red wines made from at least 85% of these grapes. In fact, Colli Berici is the first DOC in Italy to have a Cabernet Franc DOC. There is also a Rosso from the subzone Barbarano only which must be 100% Tai Rosso. There are also Superiore and Riserva versions.
As if this isn’t enough to entice you, the area also rich in hill towns and villas made by Andrea Palladio such as the Villa Rotonda.
Many well-known producers make wines here such as Soave’s Inama who makes a Carmenere here, Casa Defra, Dal Maso, Cavazza, Gianni Tessari and Piovene Porto Godi all make great Tai Rosso. Cavazza is well known also for their Cabernet.
Much of this wine is available here in the U.S. Here is a link to wine-searcher.com where you can find these wines.
This month the Italian Food, Wine and Travel blogging group is writing about volcanic wines around Italy. We will be chatting live about these volcanic wines later today, Saturday, October 3, on Twitter at 11am EST with #ItalianFWT.
- Our host Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Fried Eggplant Topped with Fresh Tomatoes and Ricotto Paired with I Custodi Etna Rosso”
- Camilla at the Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be featuring “A Single-Varietal Carricante, an Etna Exclusive, & Lapsang Souchong-Braised Duck Legs”
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Grapes grown in Volcanic Soil produce a HOT wine!!!”
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator will have you “Meet Mt Etna’s Volcanic Wines: 3 reds, 3 whites, 3 producers from Sicily with pairings”
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest will write about “Volcanic Wine in the Veneto”
- Terri at Our Good Life will be sharing “Ashes to Ashes: Volcanic Wine and Sicilian Lentil Soup”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles will feature “Mount Etna – The Awesome Power of Active Volcanos, and Yes, Red Wine with Fish”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass will talk about “the wines of Benanti – Capturing the soul of Mount Etna wine”
- Cindy at Grape Experiences will be sharing “Personality, Elegance, Value: Tenuta Tascante Ghiaia Nera 2017 from Etna DOC”
- Nicole at the Somm’s Table will tell us all about “Exploring Etna with Tenuta di Fessina”
- and I’m sharing here at Avvinare “Exploring the Colli Berici in the Veneto”