Venice can be extremely hot in the summer, especially due to the humidity which lingers over the lagoon. A trip away from the city to the countryside was needed for my new friends visiting from the states and what better thing to do then go wine tasting! I decided to take them first to the outskirts of Verona in the area of Valpolicella where Villa Canestrari is located. In one of their two villas, Villa Canestrari is a museum dedicated to old machinery used in the wine making process. Walking through the museum with a guide from the vineyard helped my friends to understand better how wine is made and all of the work that goes into it. Wine doesn’t just come out of squished grapes, but must follow a series of steps, like filtration, fermentation and bottling before we can drink it. Once we had finished learning about the process of wine making, we sat down for a tasting. Four wines were offered, one white and three red. The first, the white, is called Tambè, and is a mix of garganega (the wine used to make Soave), Sauvignon and Traminer. What makes this wine unique, is the mix. Each grape has a very particular taste; the traminer is semi-sweet, the sauvignon is lemony and herby, while the garganega adds structure and power. The next three wines all come from the same grapes, the Corvina, which is king in Valpolicella, and the Rondinella and Molinara grapes. The first wine, Valpolicella, is the ‘easiest’ of the three, in that it is made like a typical wine and is not aged in barrel. The second, is the Valpolicella Ripasso- a wine blended from the Valpolicella wine and the second press of Amarone grapes. The third wine was an Amarone, a wine made from grapes that have been dried for a few months into raisins after the harvest. Pressing the dried grapes results in a denser liquid with a higher concentration in sugar. During the fermentation process, all the sugar is transformed into alcohol resulting in a higher alcohol content than a normal wine, around 15-16%. The wine itself is thicker and fruitier, best served alone or paired with aged cheeses like parmigiana. Both the Ripasso and the Amarone are aged in wood. To learn more about Villa Canestrari read my past article.
Next stop was the farm of Franco and Francesca Masiero, who live in a small, hilly village north of Vicenza. Five years ago Masiero had his first harvest with one hectare of merlot. What makes this farm so incredible is that it is biodynamic. This means that it is not only organic, but follows the theory of Rudolf Steiner. Following the course of the moon, and using holistic treatments for the plants, they believe that the wine is not just a drink but part of the diet, healthy and great tasting. (To learn more look at my blog ‘The biodynamic horn‘) Showing my friends the objects used in cultivation, like cow compost and quartz powder, and dried deer bladder, was something so different that sometimes it was hard to comprehend. We sat down after the tour for a glass of wine and to take pictures of the beautiful landscape. The merlot was slightly spicy and fruity with hints of chocolate aromas rising from the glass. It went down easy, and we all took seconds. After that, Franco brought us homemade gelato, which was so fresh, creamy and refreshing on such a hot day.Time was running out and we were ready to head home. We had learned a lot about some great Italian wines and most of all enjoyed taking the time to relax and share in each other’s company. My friends headed back their hotel, hands full of bottles of wine and honey, a gift from the Masiero farm. ‘We will definitely be back to do another tour,’ they said, ‘next time to a different area, but please always in the company of such humble and great people.’ No problem guys, it would be my pleasure!
Want to enjoy a tour in the Italian countryside? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org