The 6 best Lessini Durello sparkling wines chosen by Gambero Rosso

Jul 5 2024, 13:54
Durella is a native white grape variety cultivated in Veneto in certain areas of the Monti Lessini between Verona and Vicenza. The grape is vinified in various ways, but its best results come as sparkling wines. Here are the top labels

The ancient durella grape, historically linked to the hilly region of Monti Lessini between Verona and Vicenza, derives its name from the Latin Durus Acinus, referring to the tough skin of its berries. Rediscovered in the 1960s, durella was used primarily for blending still wines or as a base for sparkling wines until the 1980s. Only in recent decades has its potential been fully realized through precise vinifications and a notable sparkling wine production, reaching the heights of the best wines in Veneto, much like Valdobbiadene sparkling wines.

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Durella is a vigorous, resistant vine traditionally grown in the pergola veronese style. It thrives in elevated hilly areas with light soils, making the volcanic, basalt-rich soils of Monti Lessini its ideal habitat. The grape has a yellow color with golden hues, thick skin rich in polyphenols, and a lively acidity. Its elegant aroma profile features delicate floral and citrus scents. On the palate, it stands out for its sharp citric acidity, mineral notes, and a pleasantly savory finish.

Thanks to its exuberant and dynamic freshness and acidity, durella is well-suited for both Traditional Method (bottle fermentation) and Charmat Method (tank fermentation) sparkling wines. The Lessini Durello requires at least 85% durella grapes, with possible additions of chardonnay, garganega, pinot bianco, and pinot nero. Established in 1987, the Lessini Durello DOC was officially recognized as an autonomous denomination in 2011, following producers' efforts to highlight the wine's unique characteristics. Currently, durello production falls under the Monti Lessini DOC, which includes still, lively, passito, and sparkling types. For Lessini Durello sparkling wines, there are Charmat DOC, Traditional Method DOC, and Traditional Method DOC Riserva types, with the first being fruitier and more fragrant, and the latter more structured, creamy, and complex.

The best Lessini Durello sparkling wines

Here are the Lessini Durello sparkling wines that received Tre Bicchieri or Due Bicchieri Rossi awards in the Gambero Rosso Italian Wines Guide 2024.

FongaroSpumantiBrutNera'15, this glass features a fine and continuous perlage with golden apple aromas, characteristic mineral notes of the variety, and a curious salty hint. On the palate, it is dry with great drive, emphasized by the typical incisive acidity. Led by Tanita Danese, Fongaro Spumanti in Roncà was among the first to believe in the potential of durella and the Lessinia territory for Traditional Method sparkling wines. Their 12 hectares of vineyards are almost entirely dedicated to durella.

Dal Maso Serafino '16, this sparkling wine strikes a balance between the grape's acidic, almost austere character and a pleasant sip, resulting in great precision and harmony. The Dal Maso family manages the company, focusing on the three Vicentine denominations: Gambellara, Colli Berici, and Monti Lessini. Their production in Lessinia is of high quality but still developing.

Casa Cecchin Dosaggio Zero '16, a Riserva with mature fruit and toasted bread aromas, gradually revealing the variety's mineral notes. On the palate, it has a full and solid body, perfectly supported by the typical acidity and savoriness. Casa Cecchin in Agugliana is a pioneer in producing Traditional Method sparkling wines with durella, dedicating their small vineyard area almost entirely to this vibrant grape.

Giannitessari Durello Extra Brut '16, a Riserva with great aromatic depth, where yellow fruit memories intersect with toasted bread notes, giving way to the characteristic gravelly and chalky minerality. The extended aging on lees provides harmony and a pleasant savory drink. Gianni Tessari's company operates on three distinct viticultural platforms, with durella being a prominent focus in Lessinia.

Dal Cero Cuvée Augusto, a sparkling wine with a complex aromatic profile, featuring energetic and juicy sips. The Dal Cero family has enhanced Roncà's territory, showcasing it as the new frontier of Soave. Their vineyards on three ancient volcanoes produce wines with prominent acidity, contributing to their longevity.

Ca' Rugate Amedeo '17, successfully combines durella's boldness with the house's poised style. Once a small family-run winery in Brognoligo, Ca' Rugate has become one of the most important producers in the area, thanks to Michele Tessari's entrepreneurial spirit and his father Amedeo's foresight. While Soave and Valpolicella are the core of their production, their commitment to durella in Lessinia is increasingly significant.

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