If I told you about a crisp white wine for around $20 with notes of lime and stones, made from vines planted in soils of igneous rock—made from magma—you might reasonably guess that I’m talking about the masterful Muscadet of Domaine Brégeon, near France’s western coast. In this case, however, I’m referring to a floral, mouthwatering bianco made east of Italy’s great lakes, between Verona and Venice, by the rising star Davide Vignato, who is spearheading organic, low-yield farming in the volcanic hills of Gambellara. He fashions his El Gian from the Garganega grape, one of the country’s oldest and most widely enjoyed native varieties, and the star of the Gambellara DOC. This bottling has a little more weight than Brégeon’s Muscadet, but perhaps not as much as the Garganegas from its more famous neighbor, Soave. It is perfect if you want to try a new pairing for oysters or other light, fresh seafood.
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.
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