Rarely planted outside of Italy, Garganega is one of the country’s oldest and most widely enjoyed native varieties. It thrives in the Veneto region, namely in the area around Verona and Vicenza, and plays a starring role in the whites of Soave, Gambellara, and Custoza. Davide Vignato is spearheading organic, low-yield farming in the volcanic hills of Gambellara—Soave’s less-well-known neighbor—and turning out distinct and racy whites full of value and pleasure. Citrus, crushed stones, white flowers, almonds, and bracing acidity course through this Col Moenia, made with grapes from the domaine’s highest-elevation vines. This crisp, medium-bodied Italian white will give the Chablis, Sancerres, and Muscadets in your rotation of seafood and apéritif whites a run for their money!
One of our most “off-the-beaten-track” discoveries of the past few years is the azienda of young Davide Vignato. The family history behind Davide’s wines began when his grandfather, Rinaldo, purchased a small plot of land in the hills of Gambellara and planted vines. Davide’s father, Gian Domenico, was the first in the family to make wine from those grapes, and as of 1997, Davide introduced organic and biodynamic farming to the vineyards with the goal of producing deeply mineral wines that would reflect Gambellara’s unique soils. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermentation is spontaneous, and the wines are aged on fine lees. These wines represent not only authentic and compelling terroir expression, but also great values.
Italy’s most prolific wine region by volume, the Veneto is the source of some of the country’s most notorious plonk: you’ll find oceans of insipid Pinot Grigo, thin Bardolino, and, of course, the ubiquitous Prosecco. And yet, the Veneto produces the highest proportion of DOC wine of any Italian region: home to prestigious appellations like Valpolicella, Amarone, and Soave, it is capable of excelling in all three colors, with equally great potential in the bubbly and dessert departments.
With almost 200,000 acres planted, the Veneto has a wealth of terroirs split between the Po Valley and the foothills of the Alps. While the rich soils of the flatlands are conducive to mechanization, high yields, and mass production of bulk wine, the areas to the north offer a fresher climate and a diversity of poor soil types, ideal for food-friendly wines that show a sense of place. Whether it’s a charming Prosecco Superiore from the Glera grape, a stony Soave or Gambellara from Garganega, or a Corvina-based red in any style, the Veneto’s indigenous grape varieties show real character when worked via traditional production methods.
Since his first visit in 1979, Kermit has regularly returned to the Veneto to enjoy its richness of fine wines and local cuisine. Our collaboration with Corte Gardoni, our longest-running Italian import, is a testament to this. The proximity of beautiful cities like Verona and Venice, with their deep culinary heritage, certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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