When people think of the Veneto they think first of Venezia, but when it comes to wines the nerve center is Verona, home not only to the most Roman ruins outside of Rome but to the Veneto’s two best-known wine zones–Valpolicella and Soave. In Valpolicella, a band of hills just north of Verona, grapes such as corvina and rondinella and blended to create the local red, while a few miles east in Soave the garganega grape is the base of the Veneto’s signature white. These wines, along with the prosecco-based sparklers of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, are the staples of northeastern Italy. In the past, all of the Veneto’s “big three” were considered cheap, simple quaffing wines, but these days they are so much more. In Soave, the whites are taking on new depths of concentration, while in Valpolicella the legendary Amarone is now joined by a growing crop of serious, structured reds. As for Prosecco, well, there’s always a place for this light, crisp, fragrant sparkler–especially when it’s party time.
“Le Bine,” Tamellini 1999
$29 at Babbo
Haven’t tried Soave in a while? Still think Soave is the cheap, insipid white of the Seventies? Try this crisp, fragrant, fleshy white and maybe you’ll change your tune. Sourced from vineyards within the more historic “Classico” portion of the Soave DOC zone, this well-structured white is great with our whole grilled branzino and will serve you well with similar foods at home. A great value from an under-rated area!
“TB,” Tommaso Bussola 1997
$125 at Babbo
If braised meats are on the menu, this inky, super-concentrated Amarone is a decadent choice as an accompaniment. Tommaso Bussola is among a younger generation of Amarone producers, who favor a more fruit-driven, shorter-aged style of wine with an almost sappy texture on the palate. This wine is just a step shy of Port in richness, but is still a dry red—such is the magic of Amarone.