About the Region
Famous worldwide for three wines above all — soave, valpolicella, and amarone della valpolicella (usually called simply amarone) — is one of the largest wine regions in Italy, and the country's largest producer of DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata — the Italian version of the appellation system) wines. Soave can be of ordinary table wine quality (as with the big-name brands) or a fresh, medium-bodied white of some complexity, often with a distinctive nutty character. The main grape is garganega, with pinot bianco, chardonnay, and a local clone of trebbiano, as well as a number of lesser-known varieties, permitted in smaller quantities. Valpolicella is fruity red (cherries are often invoked to describe the flavor) made from local varieties, principally corvina, along with molinara, rondinella, and others. Valpolicella's big brother, amarone, is a dry, high-alcohol, often raisiny-tasting red made from late-harvested grapes dried for three to four months before vinification. Ripasso is a category of wine developed in the late 20th century, which has some of the characteristics of amarone but is lower in alcohol and somewhat lighter. It is made by adding the leftover grape skins and seeds from amarone production, or sometimes dried grapes themselves, to valpolicella and allowing them to macerate. Another red wine from the same region, bardolino, is made from the same grapes as valpolicella but is lighter in body, with fresher fruit. There is also a rosé called chiaretto. Bardolino has never achieved the international popularity of valpolicella. Imported grapes, including cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, have done well in the region, as well, and Italy's best and most plentiful prosecco (sparkling wine) comes from the Veneto regions of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, near Treviso. The main prosecco grape is glera (formerly known as prosecco itself), though pinot grigio and pinot bianco are also used.