Venice’s region has emerged in recent times as Italy’s largest producer of wine. The region is leading the flow is Verona’s trio of Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino. But since DOC represents less than a third of the region’s total, the Veneto also figures as a major producer and exporter of IGT wines. The Veneto has three general areas of premium wine production: the western province of Verona in the hills between Lake Garda and the town of Soave; the central hills in the provinces of Vicenza, Padova and Treviso; the eastern plains of the Piave and Tagliamento river basins along the Adriatic coast northeast of Venice.
From the region of Veneto, Verona’s classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines. Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young. Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy’s most authoritative red wines. Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method. The Veneto’s central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.Treviso’s province takes in the hills north of Venice, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.