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.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.