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Cycling Culinary Tour of Conegliano, Italy

Cycling Culinary Tour of Conegliano, Italy

Conegliano is a town located in the Veneto region, in the province of Treviso. Located about 30 kilometers north of the city of Treviso, it lies in the foothills of the Dolomites and is most noted for its wine, Italy’s favorite sparkling aperitif, prosecco.

Conegliano offers some wonderful routes for all levels of cyclists. Approaching from the south and west from Castelfranco, Montebelluno, and Treviso, cyclists will find flatter terrain along the Piave River valley, which is known for both Piave DOP cheese as well as its own DOC wine zone, featuring the native raboso varietal, one of Italy’s best "big" reds.

For those that desire more challenging terrain, cycle some hills in the prosecco wine region. Conegliano is one of the two end points of the preeminent locale for prosecco production — the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG region. In these picturesque hillside vineyards, locals grow grapes for some of the best proseccos in the world. Advanced cyclists can head north through Vittoria Veneto to the Bosco di Cansiglio. The bosco (or forest) is where the Venetians obtained the wood needed for their sailing ships back in the height of the Venetian republic when they were producing one ship per day. Here, tackle Passo Crosetta, a climb that has been part of the Giro d’Italia several times.

Conegliano itself is an interesting place to explore. A couple of spots well worth a visit include the Cathedral, dating from 1491 and adorned with important frescoes and paintings, including a renowned altarpiece from noted artist Cima di Conegliano. A short (but uphill) walk outside the city brings one to the Castello di Conegliano with its beautiful bell tower. At one time, this tower contained a large bell used to summon the populace and signal the start of city council meetings. Today, the Torre della Campana (bell tower), houses the Civic Museum, with a wonderful collection of paintings. After a tour of the gallery, stop and enjoy a snack, a glass of a local wine, and the panoramic view from Ristorante Al Castello.

Noted for its wines, Conegliano is the home of Italy’s oldest and most prestigious wine school, the Scuola Enologica. Conegliano is on the cusp of three distinct wine zones — the aforementioned Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, known for its quality prosecco, as well as two lesser known regions, the Piave and the Colli di Conegliano. The Piave DOC stretches from the hills near Conegliano south to the shores of the Adriatic. Piave is known for its wonderful indigenous varietal, raboso, an ancient wine made here since before the time of the Roman empire. In this region today, you will find several local producers devoted to rediscovering and promoting this native treasure. Finally, the Colli di Conegliano DOCG produces some very interesting blends; its rosso combines the native marzemino grape with international varietals, such as cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon to make a big, fruity, tannic wine. The bianco is a crisp and fruity blend of chardonnay and the local incrocio manzoni. Two very interesting and rare sweet wines are produced as well, the rosso refrontolo and the white torchiato di dregona.

You will find some wonderful local food products as well on your visit. South of Conegliano, along the fertile planes of the Piave River, you will find fields of the local corn variety, mais biancoperla, considered the ideal grain for the delicate white polenta. The entire province of Treviso is known for its many different varieties of radicchio, many more than we come across here in the US. Cured meats, such as sopressa, salame, and cotecchino are produced nearby, as well as various forms of preserved goose, as salame, prosciutto, or preserved in goose fat. Many superb cheeses hail from this area, including Montasio, Casatella Trevigiana, Taleggio, Urbiaco, Asiago, and, of course, Piave. To the north, in the Prealps, chestnuts have been cultivated for centuries, a food staple for many poorer families. They are one of few crops that can be grown on steep slopes, as well as produced during colder winter months. Chestnuts are typically dried, and then either boiled or ground up into flour and used in a variety of dishes, from breads and pastas to dessert. A market visit in the fall will always include a stop by the vendor who is roasting chestnuts, the wonderful aroma making it impossible not to stop for a few to snack on.

Try the braised veal cheeks with polenta and vegetables. Photo credit: Kathy Bechtel

A nice place to enjoy a meal in Conegliano is Ristorante Al Salisa, right on Via XX Settembre. They offer an eclectic menu, with both traditional dishes (piatti tipici regionali) as well as more innovative plates, including curries and sushi. I enjoyed a delicious zuppe di fagioli (bean soup) on my last visit, as well as giuanciale di vitello (braised veal cheeks) served with polenta and vegetables.

For Italy travel tips, visit Kathy Bechtel's ChefBikeSki.com and Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine.


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


ITALIAN CYCLING JOURNAL

A comment left in my blog entry, "Best Restaurant Photo 2007" of a restaurant in Bardolino, says that Bardolino is also known for its wine. This is, of course, true. The Veneto region, and Verona province, are well known for their fine wines. On our rides which include lunch there is always wine on the table. Savoring delicious food and great wines are part of the wonderful experience of cycling in Italy.

The Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions of Italy, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC* zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.

The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province that is gaining in international recognition).

The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, the Veneto was the first region to constitute the first "strada del vino" or wine road. This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.

The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

Wine details:
From the region of Veneto, Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Soave, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among classified wines (with more than 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world. It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging.
Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Another Veronese DOC wine of note is Bianco di Custoza, a crisp white much appreciated in northern Italy. Verona also shares two DOCs with Lombardy: Lugana and Garda. A distinctive DOC produced between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. The Veronese also make alternative wines of distinction, especially the reds produced by the so-called ripasso method in which the basic Valpolicella is refermented with the pomace of Amarone to gain body and structure.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighboring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Breganze, where Cabernet, Merlot and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay have earned a reputation, though the most admired wine is often the sweet Torcolato. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei range of hills, whose sheer slopes render a range of red and white varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills north of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly. A refined version is known as Superiore di Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine to build markets with Pinot and Chardonnay, made either by the tank fermentation or the classical bottle fermentation methods.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate a large range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai and Cabernet and Merlot) has a full list of popular varietals. Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and age the wines in small oak barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Among white varieties, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions but also as oak-aged wines of depth and style.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.

*The meaning of DOC and DOCG:
Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the winery name, perhaps the vineyard that the grapes came from, the year, and an abbreviation (DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino Da Tavola). Have you ever wondered what a DOC wine is, and how it differs from a Vino da Tavola?
There are four major categories of Italian wines:
Vino Da Tavola
Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

Vino Da Tavola: (VdT, in the wine books) is the lowest class of wine, a wine made by the producer as he sees fit to make it. There are few rules, other than that the stuff not be poisonous. Most is insipid, thin, weak, and acidic, the sort of wine that used to be sold in jugs and is now sold in tetrapacks. However, there are also some spectacular Vini da Tavola, wines made by extremely good producers who have decided to make something that doesn't qualify for a superior status because of its composition or the way it is made. So, with Vino da Tavola you either get plonk or something spectacular.

Vino a Indicazione Geografica: is just that, a wine produced in a specific area. There's nothing special about most of it, though there are some nice exceptions.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): is the Italian answer to the French AOC. DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions. Thus, the rules for making Barolo differ markedly from those for making Chianti Classico. The winery can state the vineayrd that the grapes came from, but cannot name the wine after a grape type (doing so would cause confusion, because there are some DOCs named after grape types, for example Brunello di Montalcino), and cannot use a name such as "Superior." Since a wine has to meet certain standards to qualify as DOC, the quality of Italian wines as a whole has improved since the first DOCs were established in the 1960s.

Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Similar to the DOC but more stringent. Allowable yields are generally lower, and DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before they can be bottled. The establishment of DOCG wines has again resulted in an overall improvement in the quality of Italian wines -- it doesn't make sense for a producer whose vineyards are in a DOCG area to produce wines that aren't good enough to qualify. The only drawback is that in some cases the areas are too large (all of Chianti, about half of Tuscany, is DOCG for example, despite fluctuations in quality from place to place).


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