The Wines of the Veneto In NYC

In December the region of the Veneto hosted a number of events throughout the NYC area to promote their wines. The first event was a tasting of different wines from the region at Eataly in Manhattan.  A representative from each wine producing area spoke about the wines that were presented.IMG_4397

The Veneto is now the number one wine-producing region of Italy and produces more wine than most countries. The region is famous for its charming cities such as Venice and Verona–where Vinitaly  is held–the largest wine fair in the world as well as the enchanting Lake Garda.

One of the most famous wines produced in the Veneto is Prosecco, which is now the top selling sparkling wine in Italy. Prosecco, a wine that works well for many different occasions, has also become very popular in the US.

Most Prosecco is under $20 but there are some that can cost as much as $50. I enjoy Prosecco with fried foods in a batter like a fish or vegetable fritto misto. My favorite combination is Prosecco with fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies.

Many changes have taken place under Prosecco’s new DOC/DOCG designation, which includes a numbered labeling system.  A salmon-colored numbered label will now be placed on the top of every bottle of Prosecco DOCG. This seal has an identification number, which makes each bottle traceable so that every phase of the production of a specific bottle is known.

The representative at the tasting clarified for me the Rive. Rive are very special and defined hillside areas used in the production of specific wines. Each Rive carries the name of its local area and is subject to even more stringent production regulations.  The highest quality Prosecco and most expensive still come from the very limited Cartizze area.

I was very happy at the lunch when they served the Prosecco with a fritto misto of fish and vegetables, a perfect combination.IMG_4399

Prosecco di Treviso Brut doc NV 100% Glera Mionetto.

After the grapes are picked, they undergo a soft pressing with the must separated from the skins. The grapes are then fermented using the Charmat Method of sparking wine production.  The secondary fermentation takes place in an autoclave, a large pressurized stainless steel container.IMG_4401

Prosecco  di Treviso Brut “Tullia” Brut DOP NV 100% Glera. Montelvini. The grapes are harvested by hand and then Charmat method is used. Fermentation takes place in an autoclave instead of a bottle, the same method used for Champagne.IMG_4402

Prosecco “Millesimato” DOCG NV 100% Glera. The grapes are hand harvested in September and then lightly crushed. Then the must undergoes static decantation. Primary fermentation with the yeasts takes place inside steel vats. Before the primary fermentation is complete, the wine is run intp a pressure tank, where it becomes carbonated.  For 30 days, the wine remains in contact with the yeasts.  The wine spends six weeks in bottle before release.

When I was in the Veneto a few years ago I had the opportunity to taste sparkling wine from a local little-known grape called Durella. I was very impressed by this wine and was happy to see one at the tasting.IMG_4404

The DOC for Durello was established in 1987 and covers an area high up in the hills on the border between the provinces of Verona and Vicenza, in the area known as the Monti Lessini. The production zone for Lessini Durello is of volcanic origin. The hills on which the vines grow are layers of rocks formed by lava flows. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals and fossil deposits. Geologically, the soil is of volcanic tuff basalt.

Lessini Durello  DOC Millesimato NV Corte Moschina 100% Durella. The grapes come from an old vineyard in the heart of Santa Margherita in the heart of the volcanic area of the foothills of Mont Calvarina. The grapes are hand picked in the beginning of September. Alcoholic fermentation is for 20 days in stainless steel tanks. The second fermentation, Charmat method takes place. Refining is for 3 months in stainless steel tanks with yeast.IMG_4403

The wine has to be at least 90% Trebbiano Lugana. Carlo Veronese, Director of the Lugana Consortium, said that Trebbiano Lugana is closely related to Verdicchio  and this made it different from Trebbiano  grapes in other parts of Italy. He also said that Lugana is best when fermented and aged in stainless. He made a point of saying that Lugana Riserva is a wine that can age.

Lugana DOC 2012 Zenato 100% Trebbiano Lugana  Zenato. The  vineyards are on the San Benedetto estate, south of Lake Garda. The grapes are harvested in late September and early October and undergo a soft pressing and fermentation in stainless steel tanks.

Arturo Stocchetti

Arturo Stocchetti

Arturo Stocchetti, President of the Wines of Soave, said that there are four types of Soave: Soave DOC, Soave Classico DOC, Soave Superiore DOCG and the dessert wine Recioto di Soave. He said that Soave is mainly composed of two grapes: Garganega 70-100% and Trebbiano di Soave. The wines are usably fermented in stainless steel tanks, which he said brings out the lively acidity and fresh fruit notes.

The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals. There is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. The soil does make a difference. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir-based wines.

 Soave is a very underrated wine and one of my favorites. The price-to-quality ratio is excellent and it is always one of the best buys on a wine list. I like it with many different foods and one of my favorite combinations with Soave is risotto made with peas or radicchio.IMG_4400

Soave “Re Midas” 2012 Cantina di Soave 100% Garganega grapes. The harvest takes place from the middle of September to the middle of October. The grapes are soft pressed before being naturally decanted. The must is fermented with the addition of selected yeasts for 10 to 12 days. Aging takes place in stainless steel for 10 to 12 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months followed by one month in bottle before release.

This is a wine with good body, hints of lemon, fresh fruit, overtones of citrus and a hint of toasted nuts

Producers of Amarone usually also produce a Ripasso as they are made from the same grapes though the process for making them is different. Ripasso is less than half the price of Amarone and is a good alternative if you are looking for the same aromas and flavors as an Amarone.

The Ripasso technique has a history in Valpolicella consisting of refermenting the wines of the same vintage or that of previous years on fermented dregs of the dried grapes to produce Amarone. This serves to strengthen the Valpolicella and makes it more robust drawing from what is left on the dregs. The refermentation lasts 15 to 18 days and the Valpolicella acquires more color, structure, fragance and tannin, along with 1 to 1.5% more alcohol. After it is finally racked in February and March and has undergone malolactic fermentation, the wine is then aged in oak barrels.IMG_4405

Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso “ Mara” DOC 2011 Cesari 75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara grapes grown in the vineyards on the Valpolicella hills. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and then the wine is refermented on the dried grape skins according to the Ripasso technique. Racking takes place followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 12 months in 80% Slovenian oak and 20% in French oak tonneaux. After six months in bottle the wine is released. This is a full-bodied wine with ripe fruit aromas and flavors and hints of cherries and prunes.



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