Discovering Torcolato and other fine wines from a small DOC in Veneto

Jun 9 2024, 16:18
Beyond the major denominations, Veneto has smaller ones in terms of size and number of producers, but they are equally interesting and distinctive. One of these is the DOC Breganze, with wines of great prestige

Amarone, Valpolicella, Soave, Custoza, Lugana, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco: these are just a few of the most famous denominations of Veneto, a region long known for producing great Italian wines that are successful both domestically and abroad. However, the region's viticulture does not end with these major denominations: the rest of the regional territory is dotted with other DOCs, perhaps smaller in size and number of producers, but equally interesting and distinctive. One of these is the DOC Breganze.

Breganze: the territory

A few geographic coordinates are necessary. We are in the province of Vicenza, and the denomination covers the entire administrative territories of Breganze, Fara Vicentino, and Molvena, and parts of Bassano del Grappa, Lugo di Vicenza, Marostica, Mason Vicentino, Montecchio Precalcino, Pianezze, Salcedo, Sandrigo, Sarcedo, and Zugliano.
This area forms a sort of amphitheater extending between the Astico and Brenta rivers. To the north, the mountainous areas of the Asiago Plateau overlook the vineyards of DOC Breganze, gradually sloping down towards the Vicentine plain between the Brenta River to the east and the Lessini Mountains to the west. Geologically, the area features volcanic, sedimentary, and alluvial soils, varying significantly from zone to zone: while the northwest part of the denomination is predominantly volcanic, the northeast has sedimentary sandstone and limestone rocks; the southern and eastern sections contain blue marl and arenaceous-marl layers in contact with alluvial sediments. Hot but not sultry summers and not too harsh winters create an optimal situation for vine cultivation.

The Breganze denomination and the wines produced

DOC status was granted to Breganze in 1969, among the first in Italy. Currently, the types of wines produced are quite numerous, and producers have considerable expressive freedom. This reflects the ampelographic diversity of the area, with typical grapes often alongside international varieties that have been present here for centuries. Going into a bit more detail, it can be said without a doubt that the local flag is flown by the vespaiola grape.

This is an ancient native variety, but little is known about its origin. Also known as "bresparola," the name seems to allude to the fact that the sweetness of its pulp is irresistible to wasps. This grape is used for the production of white wines, generally very fresh and light, but it is especially the star of Breganze's flagship product, Torcolato, a fascinating sweet wine made from the juice of vespaiola grapes left to dry during the winter following the harvest. In recent years, there has also been a constant qualitative growth in the production of red wines, particularly those based on Cabernet and Merlot, which have been present in the vineyards of the area since the 17th century.

The best Breganze DOC wines

Here are the best expressions of Breganze DOC with wines that have received Two Red Glasses or Two Glasses in the 2024 Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide.

Cabernet Cavallare 2019. The slower pace with which this Cabernet Cavallare comes to life allows the wine to evolve perfectly in the cellar, offering an aromatic profile of great depth. The 2019 vintage presents aromas reminiscent of ripe dark fruit, with a significant presence of spices in the background. In the mouth, the full body is supported by a dense and smooth tannic texture that gives rigor and restlessness to the sip. The Reserve Due Santi '20 is explosive on the fruity note, with a juicy and crunchy palate. The Zonta family company, run by cousins Stefano and Adriano, is a cornerstone of regional winemaking, boasting a prestigious viticultural platform on the hills east of Bassano. The pink-berried Bordeaux varieties, which form the core of the winery's production, deserve a place of honor, producing a small range of highly valuable wines. The style of the reds has never changed, dominated by the richness of the fruit in an energetic and pleasantly harmonious sip.

Terre di Lava 2017. This Merlot, with its complex aromas, is appreciated for its agile and refined taste profile. Mirco Gottardi founded the Vignaioli Contrà Soarda winery just over twenty years ago, and from the beginning, it has stood out as one of the most interesting realities of the Breganze denomination.

Torcolato 2018 by Col Dovigo. This wine smells of candied fruit and dried flowers, with measured sweetness in the mouth and a dry finish. The Bonollo family in Breganze offers a broad and high-quality range.

Torcolato 2018 by Col Dovigo. This wine smells of candied fruit and dried flowers, with measured sweetness in the mouth and a dry finish. The Bonollo family in Breganze offers a broad and high-quality range.

Torcolato 2018 by Miotti. The historic sweet wine made from dried vespaiola grapes has in the Miotti family winery one of its absolute benchmarks. The 2018 vintage highlights a profile of toasted hazelnuts, Mediterranean scrub, and balsamic notes.

Torcolato 2021 by Maculan. This wine is dominated by citrus and exotic fruit notes; in the mouth, the overwhelming sweetness is perfectly balanced by acidity and saline presence. Fausto Maculan is one of the great Veneto producers, an tireless promoter of Italian wine worldwide, and an absolute interpreter of the Bordeaux blend. Alongside him, his daughters Angela and Maria Vittoria manage a viticultural platform extending over many hectares in the hilly area of Breganze, where vespaiola, merlot, and cabernet are echoed by white varieties such as chardonnay and sauvignon.

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