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.
Barbera is planted extensively in Piedmont and south-west Lombardy and accounts for over 50% of the wine produced in the region. The majority is sold simply as Barbera del Piemonte, but the best wines are the DOCs, Barbera d'Alba and Barbera d'Asti. It ripens late (after Dolcetto but before Nebbiolo).
The wines are usually ruby red in colour with notably low levels of tannins. They have a pronounced acidity that can be accentuated by overproduction. Barbera wines range from light, tart mouthwashers through to powerful, intensely flavoured wines that require extended cellaring.