I was delighted to attend The United Wines of Veneto Master Class held at Eataly NYC last month. The class was presented by the Consortium for all Veneto Wines or Unione Consorzi Vini Veneti DOC [U.Vi.Ve.], who represent the wide variety of Veneto wines. Veneto is located in the northeastern corner of Italy, and is the country’s foremost wine producing region. Veneto wines are amongst the most recognized names in Italian wine; Valpolicella, Soave, Amarone and the seemingly unstoppable Prosecco, to name a few. This was such a richly comprehensive experience, [including a surprise guest appearance by the incredible chef and author Lidia Bastianich] so I have attempted to distill all the information down to a manageable piece, below are my abridged highlights of the afternoon.
Led by Unione Consorzi Vini Veneti DOC president Arturo Stocchetti [in addition he is also the Consorzio Soave president] the presidents and directors of 6 of the 21 Consortiums of Veneto discussed their wines and regions. Each one of these consortiums within Veneto is responsible for protecting the quality of wine, specifications, traditions and innovation of the region, along with its promotion. The purpose of the Unione Consorzi Vini Veneti is “to represent the region as a whole, the history and the unique wine-making traditions”. The title, “United Wines of Veneto” is a reflection of the “strong collaboration between world renowned Prosecco and Amarone producers along with a wide culture of smaller high quality wineries and working together to represent our traditions, character and characteristics”. The predominate theme was that Veneto wines “are approachable because of price, variety and food friendliness”. The nearly universal belief that food and wine go together in Italy is spreading globally, and friendly Veneto wines can be paired with all types of cuisine.
Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
The Consorzio has only protected the Prosecco region since 2009. It is a highly productive area that currently exports about 65% of its 300 million bottles produced. With a 33.5% increase in export in 2014, the US is the region’s 3rd largest market, following behind the UK and Germany. President of the Prosecco DOC Consortium, Stefano Zanette along with the Director of the Consortium believe that due to the modern characteristics of Prosecco, such as its low alcohol content and delicate flavours, the US market will only continue to grow. It has a way to go to unseat the UK in the number one spot, especially considering the recent numbers associated with New Year’s Eve purchases, the Daily Mail reported “that Marks & Spencer’s Prosecco sales were up by 45% on the same period in the previous year”. Excitement for Prosecco has only increased with The Drinks Business reporting that 2014 was a spectacular year for Prosecco, as its demand “had seen global sales overtake Champagne for the first time”.
Astoria Conegliano Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry Millesimato 2012
Pale gold in colour with summery aromas of peach and fresh hay. Light apple and melon flavours along with delicate bubbles culminate in a slightly sweet, crisp finish.
$21 [average price]
Winery pairing suggestions: Fish dishes, appetizers and desserts.
Custoza DOC vineyards are in the southern area of the Bardolino region. Custoza wines are characterized by the fact that they are a blend, rather then a singular varietal. The most predominate grapes used in the blend are Garganega, Trebbianello and Bianca Fernanda, although other grapes grown in the area are permitted, such as Fernanda and Trebbiano. Overall the wines are known for their delicate fruit notes, herbaceousness, minerality and almond finish.
Azienda Agricola Cavalchina Custoza DOC 2013
Fresh and bright with ripe tropical fruits and an herbaceous undercurrent, finishing with clean minerals. Wonderfully delicate and refreshing.
40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda, 15% Trebbianello, 15% Trebbiano
$15 [average price]
Winery pairing suggestions: Fish dishes and appetizers.
Presented by Carlo Veronese, Director of the Consorzio per la Tutela Lugana DOC, the Lugana DOC is a small region located on the southern coast of Lake Garda. The area has a little over 100 producers that generate about 13 million bottles of mainly white wine made from the Turbiana grape wine a year. A combination of the clay soil left behind by glaciers and winemaking techniques, the wines are known for their dry, unoaked, easy-drinking style and refreshing acidity. Germany is their biggest export market; the US is a new market and focus, as the charming grape with unclear origins is becoming known for its distinctive flavours.
Ottella ‘Le Creete’ Lugana DOC 2013
Brillliant gold in colour, smooth and buttery with an engaging balance of sweet honeysuckle and savoury herbaceous notes culminating in a refreshing, dry mineral finish that keeps you reaching for more.
100% Trebbiano de Lugano
$18 [average price]
Winery pairing suggestions: Sea or lake fish, white meat, soups and a surprising affinity with tasty cheese.
Bardolino is located in the western part of the Veneto region. The area benefits from the glacial soil and the consistent microclimate of the Alps and Lake Garda. The wines are made with the same grapes as nearby Valpolicella wines; Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, as with everything else in Italy, the Bardolino wines have their own distinctive personality. Whilst Valpolicella wines have been called “the Italian Beaujolais” Bardolino wines are light, fresh and super versatile, in fact they are known as the “all meal wine”, able to pair with any type of dish. Similar in structure, yet each with their own unique characteristics. Bardolino wines are meant to be enjoyed young, although many can take up to 5 years or so of ageing.
Vigneti Villabella ‘Vigna Morlongo’ Bardolino Classico DOC 2013
Aged in stainless steel, light, elegant with fresh cherry and strawberry flavours accented by candied violets and crushed white peppercorn, delightfully finishing with nuances of smoky earth.
55% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, 15% Corvinone
$16 [average price]
Winery pairing suggestions: Extremely versatile and can be enjoyed throughout the entire meal with appetizers, pasta, risotto, pulse-based soups, white meats. Also try it with a slight chill.
Since Roman times both the land and family winemaking traditions have been faithfully passed down from generation to generation in Valpolicella. Christian Marchesini is responsible for the Consortium’s philosophy of “Reduce Save Respect”, which reflects the honor placed on family traditions, along with environmental protection and awareness that the land needs to be safeguarded for the future generations. Valpolicella wines are made in a broad spectrum of styles, from the light Beaujolais style of Classico, to the more weightier ripasso classic superior to the intense, rich Amarone. Clearly, just within Valpolicella there is a wine for everyone and every dish. One of the key themes of the class was that Italian wines are made to go with food, it was not a surprise when Christian Marchesini noted that Amarone pairs superbly with Risotto dishes. A traditional paring in the region, rice has been cultivated in Veneto since at least 1475. [We were fortunate to experience this spectacular pairing first hand, as we enjoyed this Valpolicella along with Risi & Bisi, a traditional Veneto risotto dish, recipe by the great Mario Batali.]
Gerardo Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Superiore 2012
Intense yet wonderfully focused with bold, jammy cherry notes contrasting with hints of delicate wildflowers, a long, velvety finish of smoky cedar and earthy summer forest echoes the powerful beginning.
70-75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Molinara
$20 [average price]
Winery pairing suggestions: Versatile, enjoy especially with risotto, sausage sand mushrooms.
Media event sponsored by Unione Consorzi Vini Veneti DOC