veneto Wine

What Are the Local Wines in Veneto?

Over the last couple of years, we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Veneto region of Italy. To maximize our enjoyment, we conducted a lot of research into Veneto wine. Following is a summary of the information we’ve collected.

Significantly, the Veneto Wine region is located in Northern Italy. The best-known wines from the region are, without a doubt, Prosecco and Pinot Grigio. Although the Veneto region is known worldwide for these white wines, the lesser-known Valpolicella red wines are worth tasting.

Interestingly, Veneto produces more wine than any other region in Italy. As often happens, mass production focuses on quantity over quality. Unfortunately, this appears to be the case with these wines. They are typically simple, consistent, and affordable.

Fortunately, Venice’s amazing architecture and excellent seafood offer a wonderful backdrop to enjoy a glass of local Prosecco or Pinot Grigio.

Grape Varieties in Veneto

Veneto is known for its diverse microclimates that include the foothills of the Alps in the north and Lake Garda to the west. The cooler climate of these foothills is perfect for growing white grape varieties like Garganega, which is used to make Soave wines. On the other hand, the warmer areas near the Adriatic coastal plains, river valleys, and Lake Garda are where Valpolicella, Amarone, and Bardolino DOC reds are produced. Veneto’s unique geography and climate contribute to the distinct flavors of its wines.

Additionally, Veneto is famous for its unique terroir that results in a diverse range of wines with distinct flavors and aromas. From soft and approachable to rich and concentrated, there’s a style to suit every palate across a wide price range.

White Grapes

Glera

Glera is a white grape predominately grown in the Veneto region. The grape gives Prosecco sparkling wines their characteristic green apple and white peach flavors.

In fact, until recently, the Glera grape was called the Prosecco grape. However, the Prosecco name is now a protected regional place name. So, to prevent confusion, the grape is no longer allowed to be called Prosecco.

Glera is late ripening and lightly aromantic. It is high in acid and low in sugar, which results in the low alcohol content in Prosecco.

Pinot Grigio

The Pinot Grigio grape is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. It originated in France as Pinot Gris and was introduced to Italy as Pinot Grigio in the early 19th century.

Italy is the highest producer of Pinot Grigio grapes worldwide by a long shot. They produce 25,000ha of grapes while the second-place grower, California, only produces 6,000ha of grapes.

It is produced in three regions of Italy with the Veneto region being the largest producer.

Its grapes are made into the wine varietal Pinot Grigio. As an American who lived in California, I like when wines are named after their grapes, but that is not always the practice around the world.

TREBBIANO

Trebbiano is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. The vines yield a lot of juice that makes fresh and fruity – but, generally unimpressive, wine.

Garganega

Garganega is the white wine grape that forms the basis of Soave. Also, the Garganega grape is a significant part of the blend used to make Gambellara.

Red Grapes

Corvina

Corvina aka Corvina Veronese or Cruina is used with several other grapes to make Bardolino and Valpolicella. These light red wines have a mild fruity flavor with hints of almond. It is also used for the production of Amarone and Recioto.

Molinara

Molinara is a red grape that adds acidity to many blended wines. Significantly, it is combined with CorvinaCorvinone, Molinara, and Rondinella to make wines of the Valpolicella and Bardolino regions. Also, Molinara is sometimes blended with Merlot to produce rosés.

Rondinella

Rondinella is a wine grape variety blended with Corvina, Corvinone, and Molinara in the Valpolicella and Bardolino wine regions.

The grape has neutral flavors but is favored by growers due to its prolific yields and resistance to disease.

Finally, Rondinella produces grapes that are not necessarily high in sugar but dry out sufficiently for use in making Valpolicella wine styles such as Recioto and Amarone.

Merlot

Merlot grapes originated in France but are grown extensively in three regions of Italy, one of them being the Veneto region.

Merlot is a very vigorous grower and, without extensive pruning, will produce a large yield of grapes per vine. Merlot grown in the Veneto region is often cultivated for large production. This means less pruning, large yields, and less intense grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, although not native to the Veneto region, has gained popularity among winemakers in recent years. It is often used in blends with local grape varieties to create unique and bold red wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon adds structure, depth, and complexity to the final product. Its rich flavors of black currant, cassis, and cedar pair well with the characteristic fruity notes of the local grapes.

In the Veneto region, Cabernet Sauvignon vines thrive under the favorable climate and soil conditions. The warm days and cool nights ensure optimal ripening of the grapes, resulting in wines with balanced acidity and ripe tannins.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc, another grape variety not native to the Veneto region, is also gaining recognition among winemakers in recent years. Known for its finesse and elegance, Cabernet Franc brings a unique character to the wines produced in this region.

Wine Varietals in Veneto

The Veneto region has 29 Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and 14 Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) zones. The DOCG wines are:

    • Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG (red)
    • Asolo Prosecco DOCG (sparkling)
    • Bagnoli Friularo / Friularo di Bagnoli DOCG
    • Bardolino Superiore DOCG (red)
    • Colli di Conegliano DOCG
    • Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio / Fior d’Arancio Colli Euganei DOCG
    • Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG (sparkling)
    • Lison DOCG
    • Montello Rosso / Montello DOCG
    • Piave Malanotte / Malanotte del Piave DOCG
    • Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG (sweet)
    • Recioto di Gambellara DOCG
    • Recioto di Soave DOCG (sweet)
    • Soave Superiore DOCG (white)

 

Sparkling Wines

Prosecco

Prosecco is a sparkling wine made exclusively in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions. The primary grape variety used in the production of Prosecco is Glera, but Perera, Bianchetta, and Verdiso may also be used.

Unlike other sparkling wines which ferment in the bottle, the secondary fermentation of Prosecco takes place in pressurized stainless steel tanks making the wine production less expensive. This process allows for different levels of fizziness, including spumante (sparkling) and frizzante (semi-sparkling).

There is a hierarchy in the quality within the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) that produce Prosecco. From lowest to highest it is:

    • Prosecco DOC
    • Prosecco DOC Trieste
    • Prosecco DOC Treviso
    • Asolo Prosecco DOCG
    • Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG

 

    The creme de la creme of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG are:

      • Rive Prosecco which is a group of high-quality vineyards, and
      • Cartizze, which is a single vineyard that sells its superior grapes to a handful of Prosecco producers.

     

    Prosecco Rose

    The Italian government officially approved the production of Prosecco Rosé in 2020. The wine is produced similarly to the classic white version with a maximum of 10-15% Pinot Noir added to give the pink color and fresh red fruit notes.

    White Wines

    Veneto Wine includes Pinot Grigio

    Pinot Grigio

    The majority of Pinot Grigio wines from the Veneto region are mass consumption-based wines. The Pinot Grigio grapes are picked early to maintain lower alcohol levels and higher acidity. Winemaking is done in large stainless-steel tanks.

    This creates light, very acidic, fresh, lively, and delicate fruit and flavor wines. The tastes can be lemon, pear, lime, and light florals.

    Soave

    Soave, made from Garganega grapes grown in volcanic soils, is one of the best white wines in Italy. Although the principal grape used is Garganega, Trebbiano di Soave and Chardonnay are permitted in varying percentages.

    Soave Superiore DOCG must be made from at least 70% Garganega. Pinot BiancoChardonnay, and Trebbiano di Soave can constitute up to 30% of the remaining blend. Finally, collectively, Trebbiano Toscano and other local white grape varieties are permitted up to 5%.

    Red Wines

    Bardolino

    Bardolino DOC is a red wine produced in the Veneto region of Italy, specifically around the shores of Lake Garda. It is made from a blend of several grape varieties, including Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. Additionally, the blend can include up to 15% of Rossignola, Barbera, Sangiovese, or Garganega.

    Bardolino wines are known for their light and fruity taste, with notes of cherry and other red fruits. They pair well with various foods, including pasta dishes and grilled meats. Overall, Bardolino DOC is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable and easy-drinking Italian red wine.

    Bardolino Superiore DOCG is an aged wine that was granted Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita (DOCG) status in 2001.

    Valpolicella

    The primary grapes in all Valpolicella wines are Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara. There are four distinct styles predominately made with the same grapes:

    • Valpolicella DOC tends to be light, fresh, and fruity.
    • Valpolicella Ripasso is a more intense version involving a second fermentation using the remains of grape skins left over from Amarone and Recioto, resulting in a fuller, deeper wine.
    • Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG is made with grapes that are dried for weeks or months after harvest to concentrate the flavors and sugars. The dried grapes are then fermented until all of the sugars have been consumed, resulting in a big, rich wine with high alcohol content.
    • Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG is similar to Amarone, but the grapes are dried for 100 to 200 days. Also, the fermentation is stopped before all of the sugar is consumed, resulting in a dessert wine with bright acidity.

     

    Merlot

    The high-production Merlot grapes grown in the Veneto region are used to produce a Merlot varietal wine. Because these grapes are grown for quantity, the Merlot wines from Veneto tend to be lighter. The typical flavors are red fruits, red plum, and strawberry.

    Sweet Wines

    Recioto di Soave

    Recioto di Soave DOCG was granted DOCG status in 1998.

    It is a sweet wine made from grapes dried on straw mats for several weeks or months after harvest.

    Per DOCG regulations, Recioto di Soave must contain at least 70% Garganega grapes and no more than 30% Trebbiano di Soave grapes.

    FAQs About Veneto Wine

    Is Veneto a grape variety?

    Veneto is not a grape variety but a region in northeastern Italy known for producing various wines. Some of the most well-known wines from the Veneto region include Prosecco, Valpolicella, and Amarone. These wines are typically made from indigenous grape varieties such as Glera (used to make Prosecco), Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara (used to make Valpolicella and Amarone). So while Veneto itself is not a grape variety, it is an important wine production region home to several unique and distinctive grape varieties.

    Is Veneto Wine Good?

    For the most part, Veneto wines are good – but, not great. However, the Veneto region is among Italy’s most important when it comes to the quantity of wine produced.

    What is the best wine in Veneto?

    The Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG is Veneto’s highest-quality sparkling wine. Several wineries produce excellent versions, but Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene has some of the highest-rated vintages. Bortolomiol offers multiple tasting options at Parco della Filandetta in Valdobbiadene.

    What Is the Primary White Grape In Veneto?

    Garganega is the primary white grape of western Veneto. It is also one of the most ancient grape varieties in Italy.

    Is Veneto wine sweet?

    The sweetness level of Veneto wine can vary depending on the type of wine and the winemaking process. Some Veneto wines, such as Amarone della Valpolicella, are known for their dry, full-bodied flavor, while others like Recioto della Valpolicella can be sweet and dessert-like. It is important to check the label or speak with a sommelier to determine the sweetness level of a particular Veneto wine before purchasing or consuming it.