Category Archives: Veneto

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Turbiana

Soils - Lugana

Really looking forward to tonight, tomorrow and Thursday’s events with the Consorzio of Lugana. The grape variety that they use in their wines is called Turbiana. It is closely related to Trebbiano di Soave but not to Verdicchio as was previously thought. It’s a great, mineral, fresh and elegant wine. I can’t wait to drink some and introduce Lugana to friends that don’t know the region. If I am not seeing you later, tomorrow or Thursday in Philadelphia, you still have a chance to try these great wines at the Simply Italian events next week in New York and Los Angeles.

Lugana

I think you’ll come to love Lugana as I have.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Italica from the Veneto

Fontanta - Verona

The photo about is from Verona not from Treviso, the province in the Veneto, where this grape is mostly found. It is a cross between two white grapes, Verdiso Bianco and Riesling Italico that was created by Italo Cosmo at the Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura di Conegliano. Here is one winery that makes a 100% Verdiso wine, Conte Collalto. Many of the characteristics of Verdiso can be seen in Italica but the form of the bunch and the berry are said to be similar to that of Riesling Italico.

I get a kick out of the name of the grape because I used to write a separate blog called Italica to mean someone who loves Italy and all things Italian. While I no longer write on that blog, although seeing the articles reminds me that I love Italy for many things not just for wine & food, I-Italy.org continues its mission on all things Italian. They are quite extensive now with a TV show and a magazine as well as their website.

With this blog post, I have now writtem 138 entries on Italian indigenous varieties and have finished with the letter “I.”

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Groppello di Mocasina Nero e Groppello Gentile Nero from Veneto and Lombardia

Lake Garda

This week’s indigenous grape variety hails mostly from Lombardy and the Veneto but is also found in a few areas in Trentino. It’s principal area however is around Lake Garda where it is a major component in Garda Classico DOC wines. It is often made into a rosato as well, locally called Chiaretto.

As a grape variety, Groppello, is hearty without being too vigorous and grows best on low hills. It is challenged in soils that have a deficiency in potassium and can at times present a sensibility to grey rot and oidium or powdery mildew.

There is also a Groppello that comes from the Trentino but that is a different grape variety. A well known producer of Groppello in this area is De Zinis

There is a Consorzio of these wines called Consorzio Valtenesi. Numerous DOC wines are produced with Groppello as the star variety including Valtenesi DOC (Groppello min 50% of the blend), Valtenesi Chiaretto DOC ( Groppello min 50% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Rosso (Groppello min 30% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Rosso Superiore (Groppello min 30% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Chiaretto (Groppello min 30% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Groppello and Groppello Riserva (Groppello 100%), Garda Classico DOC Novello (Groppello min 30% of the blend). Many of these wines do not arrive in the United States which is a shame. They are easy to drink and lovely with food. Just like their friends nearby on Lake Garda, much of this wine is consumed in situ…

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Lombardy, Memorable Events, Veneto

Sartori Wine Empire Sees Organics As Part Of Company Strength

italy 600

Today’s post is about a special wine family from the Veneto. I drank a wonderful Ripasso from the Veneto to celebrate the New Year yesterday and realized that I had never posted this story I wrote earlier this year about Sartori.

Anyone who has every met Andrea Sartori would be hard pressed to immediately guess where he is from. Blond and blue eyed with a decidedly American tinge to his accent when he speaks English, he is incredibly approachable for one at the head of a group like Sartori in the Veneto. Among the most important winery groups in the region, Sartori also heads many intergovernmental organizations and wine related groups that work on a plethora of issues from E.U. regulations to climate change. It would also take a bit of time to understand the growing importance that Sartori places on sustainability and organic farming.

Mostly known for their Amarone, Sartori is actually a partner in two wineries in two Italian regions that focus exclusively on organic grapes – Mont’Albano in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Cerulli Spinozzi in Abruzzo. I was told that they pick wineries to invest in that represent something unique and specific not only about the winery but also about the region where they are located. The Sartori family seems to have felt a kinship both with Friuli and Abruzzo as well. The link is undoubtedly family oriented firms as all three of these wineries are family run.

Having met Andrea numerous times throughout the years, nothing surprises me any longer. He and his consultant winemaker, Franco Bernabei, are always involved in interesting projects such as making the wines to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s death. The Foundation of the Arena di Verona launched a red and a white wine that celebrated the local wines from the Consortium of Bardolino, Cutoza, Soave and Valpolicella. It was the first time that some 4,900 producers and growers from the Verona area worked together to support one of the region’s most important cultural landmarks.

Arena di Verona

The white was a Garganega Verona IGT 2012 and the red was a Corvina Verona IGT 2011. Sartori is the official partner of the Arena Foundation and was behind much of the logistics and technical support for the project, including the packaging. Franco Bernabei was asked to create the wines together with the various Consorzi. The wines were offered and sold in local restaurants and wine shops, with part of the revenue given to the Arena Foundation for future initiatives.

Additionally Sartori launched a special edition of their Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 and donated part of the sales from that wine to the Arena Foundation. The wine has been served at a number of events, including one in Hong Kong that also involved the Gino Strada’s non-profit Emergency.

As to the interesting wines from Mont’Albano in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Sartori acquired the winery in 2008. Mont’Albano was ahead of its time and has been organic since the mid 1980s. Not only are the grapes organically grown but also the bottles they use are thinner and lighter in weight and the labels are all done using recycled paper.

Mauro Braidot is the founder of Mont’Albano, which is located in Colloredo di Monte Albano in Friuli. The winery has a host of organic certifications for each of its important markets such as the U.S. and Canada. Mont’Albano is in the Friuli Grave Denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C.) zone. The wines they produce are a combination of indigenous and international varieties, including a Pinot Grigio, and a Merlot/Refosco blend of note.

Fontanta - Verona

Another project that the Sartori/Bernabei team worked on together is the Cerulli Spinozzi winery in Abruzzo that Sartori bought into in the early 2000s. The winery was started in 2003 and the vineyard lands were a merger of two properties – that of the Spinozzi family and that of the Cerulli Irelli family,
The winery produces wines made from indigenous varieties from Abruzzo such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Pecorino. The grapes are organically grown. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo comes from the area known as the Colline Teramane, Abruzzo’s only Denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita (D.O.C.G.) wine, awarded in 2002.

It’s interesting to note that a modern, large group such as Sartori expanded its holdings in these areas and with properties that are interested in sustainable development and organically grown grapes. Sartori while not using organically grown grapes in all of its wines does have every certification on record, no small feat, for the entire winemaking process. One can hope that they are a symbol of what is to come for other large groups in Italy but that might be wishful thinking. In any case, Andrea Sartori’s international style has translated into a very innovative group without sacrificing tradition or territorial connections, a winning combination it seems.

Happy New Year!

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Wine of the Week: Fongaro Brut from Veneto

Fongaro

In keeping with this month’s sparkling wine focus, this week’s Wine of the Week 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.

Fongaro 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. He makes a wine which I adore called I Singhe Lessini Durello D.O.C. from 100% Durella. It is also a sparkling wine and 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.

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 24 months in the bottle before dégorgement. I was lucky enough to taste this wine recently at the Simply Italian tasting in New York at the end of October. Sadly, Durello is not widely distributed in the United States. 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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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Garganega from Veneto

Soave

Garganega is this week’s grape variety hails from the Veneto region. Garganega is the principal grape used to make Soave, an Italian white wine that we are all familiar with in the United States. According to DNA studies, it is related to Grecanico which is a grape variety widely used in Sicily. Garganega is able to produce a host of wines whether they are dry or sweet, such as the Recioto di Soave version.

The grape has moderate acidity and lovely fruit and floral aromas. It often has a slight almond taste on the finish as well. Hard to pronounce, Garganega is not listed generally on the Soave label but at least 70% of all Soave must be Garganega. The other 30% can be Trebbiano, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay.

Garganega is a vigorous grape variety and in the past was used to make mass market wines. That trend has completely changed and the grape is now used to make elegant, age worthy wines.

Many producers are worthy of note. Eric Asimov of the New York Times wrote this piece earlier this year on Soave. I’m very partial to the ones that can age such as those made by Antonio Fattori of Fattori Wines.

I had the opportunity to try wines from this region last week at a Wines from the Veneto (Uvive) event. If you live in New York or Chicago, you too can taste versions of Garganega at Eataly.

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Wine of the Week: Nino Franco Valdobbiadne Superiore D.O.C.G. Brut

Nino Franco Brut

Earlier this year I had the occasion to meet Primo Franco of the Nino Franco winery at an intimate lunch organized by Tony Didio. Primo was fascinating and an incredible “Signore del Vino.” His family winery is one of the first to make a name for themselves in the Prosecco trade, quite unimaginable today when Prosecco is so easy to find but according to Primo at the beginning there were just a very few producers trying to make a name for themselves and their area.

His family got started in 1919 just after World War I. His grandfather, Antonio and his father, Nino built up the winery. Primo, himself a graduate of the prestigious oenology school in Conegliano, took over in the 1970s and thereafter put in some modern techniques.

We tried a number of his wines, including a Rose’ calle Faive and Grave di Stecca. Both were interesting and the Grave di Stecca a very elegant and special cuvee but it is the brut that I feel represents the area and the category most profoundly.

Faive Nino Franco

There are many areas for Prosecco as we know and generally different styles as well, according to the level of residual sugar in the wine. The Brut is the driest version of Prosecco. This one had very bright acidity and was a real joy as it paired with a salmon burger.

So many others have also written about their encounters with Primo Franco, including Charles Scicolone in this relatively recent post, Dobianchi earlier this year, and Alfonso last year. What I found throughout everyone’s posts is a common sense of how wonderful both Primo and his wines truly are.

Primo Franco Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.

I like Alfonso’s vision of Primo as a great tree but when I met him, he was in his version of a very dapper Italian in midtown Manhattan. We all have our individual experiences with winemakers, either in Italy or in the States, but its the shared impressions that they leave on each of us, that strikes me. Meeting Primo was a highlight of my New York wine life this year. Thanks Tony for introducing me, again, to wonderful producers.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, Travel, Veneto, wines