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Veneto, a region shaped by opulence

Veneto region, together with Tuscany (and the ever-present Rome), has been for centuries one of the richest regions of the Italian territory, long before Italy became a politically united nation.

Venice has always been the thriving centre of the area and it still is, being the capital of Veneto region which gets its name exactly by this glorious city, even though it is today Verona the most populous one.

After the crumbling of the Roman Empire (of which Venice was naturally an annex) and a medioeval feudal, confusing period, the rapid and unstoppable ascension of Venice as a maritime power (we are talking about Marco Polo’s hometown and times, to provide a broad indication), brought a flow of immense wealth to the city.

At those days the military and mercantile power of Venice was ruling the seas of the whole world. The seaworthy supremacy of the Republic of Venice lasted over 1,000 years and the economic benefits that Venice derived from its status are still under everybody’s eyes.

Venice is, architecturally speaking, one of the most stunning cities in the world and its wealth is clearly on display to the visitor.

The stunning opulence of Piazza San Marco, Venice
– photo credits to Benh Lieu Song –

Its richness was so plentiful that it overflowed, pouring onto the surrounding territories too: art, architecture, culture left an undeletable mark on the whole scenario of Veneto region. Padua and its university and art school have shaped the intellectual world of the period. Verona, a summer residence to the rich Venetians still bears the mark of beauty given by the richness of that era, with its plethora of gorgeous Palladian Villas. Treviso, Vicenza and all the remaining cities all still testify, either for their architectural, urbanistic and artistic heritage, the grand times that were.

Why talk so much about opulence in a wine-related article?

Well, the answer is quite straightforward: the rich definitely don’t like to drink bad wine! And the poor, who used to produce good wine for the rich, are said to have secretly used to keep the best for themselves!

An immense wine culture has developed in Veneto, through centuries and millennia, since the Roman times. The results are quite well known: some of the most renown Italian wines are produced in Veneto. From the noble Amarone and its less noble (but not less delicious) relatives (Ripasso, Valpollicella, etc) to the more modern discoveries such as Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Recioto, Bardolino. Of course, the beauty of a land where the Alps, through luscious degrading hills, meet the plane provide a tremendous contribution with the most favourable terroir.

Nevertheless, it is always the wine culture that thrives and drives such a variety of extremely exciting wines.

Let us therefore have a look at what That Italian Guy has discovered and selected, in Veneto:

Pietro Zardini, 4th generation master winemaker has delighted us with a variety of interesting wines, some of which totally or partially refined in amphora.

Amphoras at the Zardini estate, an ancient vessel used for wine refinement and transport
Zardini Estate, on the hills of Verona

Among the Zardini wines, his Amarone Riserva towers as one of the best things we have ever tasted. Nevertheless, even his Ripasso will rock your chair. Extremely worthy of note is his Rosignol (Italian aulic for Nightingale), a wine so rare and unique that it has no similar ones to justify the sanctioning of a DOC or DOP. Available in small yearly quantities, it is one of our favourites. Useless to mention his Amarone, extremely appreciated in Italy and all over the world.

Coming to the Prosecco topic, it is worth of an article on its own. We will simply point out that the Prosecco production has reached an unprecedented industrial scale in the Valdobbiadene Valley (near Treviso), where it originates. As a consequence, most producers have converted into specialists of one of the steps of making prosecco: landlords have become agriculturers, selling their grapes for harvesting to the next guy down the chain, who sells it to a wine-making specialist, who sells it to someone who has an industrial-scale bottling facility. At the end, there is always a master marketeer who applies a label to export the product.

Il Follo Village, surrounded by vineyards

It has therefore been our firm mission to identify one of the few residual artisans of this craft, one of the very few survivors owning the whole process of wine-making: from the agricultural aspect of vine growing and harvesting, all the way to bottling. Il Follo, placed in the tiny and pictoresque village Follo, not too far from Cartizze, is a medium-small Prosecco producer who has given us the pleasure of meeting Il Follo Brut and Il Follo Extra Dry, both lovely expressions of the art of making Prosecco and both representative of a tradition that has faded. 

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