If the historic records showed that your family had owned vineyards in your home region going back to the year 1600, you would likely feel a unique sense of stewardship of your local grape varieties. The Piccoli family does, farming almost exclusively grapes that are indigenous to the Veneto region. Half an hour south of where the 2017 Oscar winner Call Me By Your Name was filmed along Lake Garda, Corte Gardoni specializes in varieties such as Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, all planted in a fertile moraine soil that was formed by the same glaciers that carved out the lake.Their Custoza Greoto is composed of Garganega, Trebbiano, Trebbianello, Cortese, and Manzoni Bianco, and while none of these are as well known as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, this bianco makes the case that you should enjoy Venetian blends at least as regularly as you do bottlings made from those more popular grapes. For its price, this wine is remarkably complete, evoking orchard fruit that gives it fresh; citrus juice and zest, which conveys acid and texture; and spring water, which represents Greoto’s purity and refreshment. A perfect aperitivo, it is also complex enough to pair well with grilled fish, lighter meats, roasted vegetables, or simple pastas.
Gianni Piccoli grew up surrounded by orchards, but he had wine in his blood so when an estate with extensive vineyards came up for sale in 1971 he jumped at the opportunity. For years the grapes of Corte Gardoni were sold to cooperatives, but Gianni felt that their wines lacked soul. In 1980 he broke those ties and began crafting his own wine, focusing on the character of the grapes and terroir. Today Gianni is a highly respected figure in the region as well as a leader in the fight against homogenization of local wines. Gianni still keeps a close eye on production, but has turned over the daily work to his sons: Mattia, the winemaker; Stefano, the vineyard manager; and Andrea, who handles the commercialization of the wines.
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.
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