Wine of the Week: Fongaro Brut from Veneto


This week’s Wine of the Week for Wine Wednesday is a brut sparkling wine from Fongaro, a winery in the Veneto. I first heard of this winery in 2010 when they participated in an event held by Vinitaly in the United States. I was struck by the wine and the grape variety, Durella, which I found unique and interesting. I was reminded of the grape yesterday thanks to a Clubhouse chat by Andrea Eby of the WIne Scholar Guild and Diletta Tonello whose family also owns a winery in this region. I have yet to try Diletta’s wines but she was a powerhouse on Clubhouse and I look forward to tasting them.

Fongaro, whose wines I have tasted many times, was created in 1975 and has always focused on the indigenous grape Durella which hails from the Monti Lessini zone, a hilly area between Verona and Vicenza. The wines are all made using the traditional method, meaning with secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle.

The grape variety ends in an “a” while the wine in an “o.” A couple of years later I was reintroduced to this grape variety by Antonio Fattori, who I just saw at Vinitaly as well. He makes a wines which I adore from 100% Durella. One stays 36 months on the lees and the other classical method sparkler spends 60 months on its lees.  Durella is well suited for these types of wines. Durella makes wines with a refined bouquet of citrus fruits and nuts as well as great acidity and minerality, perfect for sparkling wine. According to the Clubhouse chat yesterday, Durella has crazy acidity and can be picked late in the season when it has complete phenolic maturation, making wines with an exciting balance between fruit and acid.

This grape variety has considerable tannins which provide great structure to these sparklers. The terroir of this area of the Veneto is rich with volcanic soils and hillsides, ideal growing conditions for the grape variety.

The Fongaro Brut Cuvee is made from 80%-85% Durella and the remaining 15%-20% is Incrocio Manzoni. Incrocio Manzoni is a cross between Riesling and Pinot Bianco created in the 1920s in Conegliano (Veneto) by Professor Manzoni.

The wines remain on their lees for at least 30 months in the bottle before dégorgement. I have tried to encourage the Consorzio to promote their wines in the States and to convince various producers that it is a market worth investing in. Thus far, I have had little luck but I do think this is a sparkler to look out for in the future.

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