About this WINE
Situated in the north-east of the country, Veneto is the Italy's largest producer of fine wine, responsible for around 14% of total production (2006). Venetian viticulture was celebrated as far back as Roman times by Pliny and Virgil on the strength of its 'Recitum' (possibly Recioto). The region's reputation was crowned during the Serenissima Republic (800-1800 AD) as Venice and Verona profited from its position on the silk route. As elsewhere in Italy a triple whammy of phylloxera, World Wars and republicanism saw the floodgates open and cooperatives take over.
The Veneto is still Italy's third largest wine-producing province (mostly from the plains of Piave behind Venice) with quantity rather than quality the order of the day. Nevertheless, the 1990s witnessed considerable investment and progress in fine wine production; today the wines are better than ever, even if the risk of hail dogs each vintage.
The foothills of the Lessini Mountains north of Verona are home to the famous and potentially outstanding red Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto made from Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and increasingly Croatina.
The Conegliano hills, home to the Prosecco grape and its eponymous sparkling wine.
It is a high yielding, late ripening grape that performs best on well-drained calcareous soils on south-facing hillsides. For years it was blighted by poor clonal selection and massive overcropping - however since the 1980s the quality of Sangiovese-based wines has rocketed upwards and they are now some of the most sought after in the world.
It produces wines with pronounced tannins and acidity, though not always with great depth of colour, and its character can vary from farmyard/leather nuances through to essence of red cherries and plums. In the 1960s the advent of Super Tuscans saw bottlings of 100% Sangiovese wines, as well as the introduction of Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blends, the most famous being Tignanello.