A trip to Veneto to discover the behind-the-scenes of the almost century-old Bardolino grape and wine festival. On the menu: wine, Italian winemakers and winery tours. Good program!
The last weekend of September marks the end of the Italian harvest! This period is celebrated throughout Italy through culinary "sacres" (sagre, in Italian) and wine festivals with tastings, refreshments and shows. Each region celebrates it in its own way. In Veneto, the flagship event is the grape and wine festival of Bardolino, on Lake Garda in the province of Verona. Organised for 86 years, it is entirely dedicated to the excellence of wine, which has its roots in the peasant culture of the lake centre.
After having enjoyed its 26 oeno-gastronomic stands, I decided to visit my first cellar to learn more about the making of these sweet Venetian nectars.
Then I go to the Euganei Hills Park; and more specifically to the town of Vo'. There I meet Leondino, son and grandson of a winegrower. Even though he has been working since the day he was able to carry his first baskets of grapes at arm's length, his eyes still shine when he talks about it : "Me, I learned how to make wine at the school of life" he tells me. After visiting his estate and asking questions such as "when is the harvest in your country? he invites me to the attic of a building built by his ancestors. It is with wonder that I discover the thousands of bunches of grapes drying on nets hanging from the ceiling of the attic. He explains to me that these grapes will form his greatest wine modestly named "Noir", which he immediately makes me taste.
Wine tasting is the essence of Venetian culture. But in a region where quantity takes precedence over quality, the wine library is a must for wine lovers.
Legend has it that the itinerant wine sellers would move around in the shade of the campanile in St. Mark's Square in Venice to keep the wine at room temperature. Thus, the Venetians talk about going "to have a drink in the shade" when they go to a wine cellar. The "Enoteca Severino" in Padua is known all over the world for this practice and is said to be the oldest. According to its current owner, "the budding love for a wine depends on the contact you can have with the one who offers it to you". If a visit to a winery is an excellent way to discover a wine, the wine library offers a more objective vision of it than a producer exalting himself in front of his product.
In my next article: wine from volcanoes and philosophy. Grappa, did you say Grappa?
Aude Bellavoine (Les Grappes)
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