Since 1600, the Gregoletto family has faithfully carried forth the wine tradition deeply rooted in the steep slopes about an hour north of Venice. In the stunning green foothills of the Dolomites, they bottle wines with an inextricable link to the past. At Gregoletto, production methods are family secrets that have been passed down through countless generations to present day, as 91 year-old Luigi Gregoletto—whose first harvest dates back to 1947—continues to surprise with his deft skill and humble artisanship. The Verdiso grape is indigenous to this dramatic, undulating landscape, and while permitted in small quantities in the region’s ubiquitous Prosecco, the variety is rarely ever bottled on its own. The Gregolettos are among the last to do so, creating a still white full of zest and intrigue with a knack for stimulating the palate and mind. The Gregoletto methods—traditional farming respectful of the land, manual harvest, and spontaneous fermentation—yield this low-alcohol bianco with suggestions of tart apple, fresh herbs, minerals, and a clean, saline finish accented by a hint of bitter almond. Sipping it is taking a plunge into Veneto history through brisk, pure, joyful refreshment.
The Gregoletto family name can be found in historical archives dating from the late 16th, as viticoltori in the hills of Premaor di Miane, near Valdobbiadene. The family has two real specialties: semi-sparkling wine made sui lieviti or on its lees, and still wine made from grapes most commonly used to make sparkling wine. They are among the very last growers in the Veneto to cultivate the indigenous Verdiso grape, making magnificent tranquillo and sui lieviti bottlings from it. They also make Prosecco in all of its forms: still, demi-sec, semi-sparkling, and metodo classico. The Gregoletto family’s wines are incredibly pure, refreshing, and elegant and can be enjoyed effortlessly. They provide instant pleasure.
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.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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