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The Wine of Veneto

Wines of VenetoThe Veneto’s most well-known still white wine is Soave, a designation that has been compromised through both viticultural and vinification methods and the enlargement of the zone. While it was originally a blend of Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave (both aromatic varieties), changes in DOC regulations permitted the introduction of a more mundane strain of Trebbiano (Toscano) as well as Chardonnay, thereby precipitating the widespread production of a fairly vapid wine. However, Soave bottlings that pair Garganega with Trebbiano di Soave tend to offer a substantive flavor profile. While Soave is not the only white DOC, the others, Lugana and Gambellara, primarily involve the same varietals. The former (which is shared with Lombardia), privileges Trebbiano di Soave, and some bottlings realize a substantive aromatic presence. With respect to the latter, Garganega exercises its dominance, as it represents a minimum of 80% of the blend. The category also includes several varietally labeled wines that are fairly simple in character. Valpolicella is, in many respects, the red counterpart to Soave, as its image has suffered from mass production.

However, unlike Soave, it operates a stylistic hierarchy: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore and/or Ripasso, Amarone della Valpolicella, and Recioto della Valpolicella generally comprise the grape trio of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. Valpolicella Classico (Classico denoting a wine made in the inner, superior Valpolicella zone) is the simplest expression of the Valpolicella quartet. At the Superiore level, Valpolicella must achieve higher alcohol content, receive longer aging, and display more body and structure than the simple Valpolicella. To realize these qualities, many Superiore are treated via one of two techniques: “governo alla Toscana” or ripasso. Under the “governo alla Toscana” method, producers blend the finished Valpolicella with a small percentage of Amarone remaining from a previous batch. Others employ the ripasso method, enriching the Valpolicella wine through direct contact with (or passing through) the Amarone’s lees.
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