I distantly recall a childhood trip to Venice, when I was too young to revel in the wonders of art, fine cuisine, and wine. Days I would have gladly spent drifting along the city’s canals on a sweetly swaying gondola were instead filled with interminable treks to tedious museums and traumatizing assaults from the hostile mob of pigeons patrolling Piazza San Marco. Today, I would give anything to return to Venice and savor its architecture, music, and prosperous food and wine scene. Once a thriving trade hub providing a commercial gateway to the East, Venice also enjoys a strategic geographical location for the abundance of vineyards within its reaches. The nearby Alpine foothills, tempered by warm breezes from the Adriatic, create an ideal climate for viticulture across a large band of northeastern Italy. Prosecco, ubiquitous in Venetian bars, is only the tip of the iceberg: the Veneto produces the most DOC wine of any region in Italy, and nearby Friuli-Venezia-Giulia is home to a wealth of its own traditions. This sampler offers an introduction to the various styles produced around lovely Venezia. So get some polenta started, turn on Vivaldi, and pour yourself a glass of Venetian refreshment while you dream of a gondoliere rhythmically rowing you off into the sunset. –Anthony Lynch
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.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
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