Chapter 5 – Veneto and Venice
What if we tell you that right in the heart of one of the most mysterious, fascinating and famous cities of Italy there are few producers which grow vineyards?
Can you Guess which city we are talking about?
It’s the city of Venice, a worldwide famous destination that welcomes 23 million of visitors every year, and maybe 99% of them do not know that there are wines made in this beautiful lagoon.
For our fifth appointment with an Italian region both me and Carlotta were extremely fascinated by the story that we would like to share with you today.
The story of incredibly ungrafted vines and how they can grow right inside the Venice Laguna, in Sant’Erasmo island.
When almost 20 years ago Michel Thoulouze bought his house here, he wasn’t thinking about making wine at all. But talking with local farmers he discovered that he bought one of the most beautiful lands in the area, where traditionally they used to grow vines and make wine.
So he decided to plant some local and Italian varieties with a very precise concept and philosophy: small intervention in the vineyard and in the cellar. That’s how ORTO di Venezia was born.
Only manual work in the fields, the vines are all ungrafted due to the particular location of the vineyards, the soil is a mix of clay limestone and dolomite rock. No weeding, no fertilizer, no irrigation, only hard manual work.
The wine is made with Malvasia Istriana (indigenous grape from north east Italy), Vermentino and Fiano, which are respectively grapes from the Tirreno side of the country.
The wine is pretty aromatic in the nose and extremely balanced in the mouth. The most vibrant and present sensation is the minerality and the salinity of this wine. Each sip will take your mind to the beautiful lagoon of Venice.
The wine is perfect for a typical Venezian aperitivo, like the cicchetti alla Veneziana, which Carlotta decided to prepare, the marriage was absolutely perfect.
Why? The texture of the food and the wine is very well balanced, both are pretty light in the mouth and not too structured, especially the minerality of the wine matches greatly with the savoury of the Baccalà.
Curiosity: they produce a limited number of Magnum bottles every year which are left to age under water, where the temperatures are similar to an underground cellar.
It should be mentioned that there is also another winery which has its vineyards right in the city of Venice: the azienda agricola Venissa.
It might come as a surprise to many of you to discover that in the middle of a lagoon, next to one of the city’s oldest churches – Santa Maria Assunta – lies a wine producer, but viticulture is extraordinarily tied to Venice’s history. Until 1100 there was a vineyard planted smack bang in the middle of Venice, in Piazza San Marco no less, so it is clear that the city historically has a great terroir, where the local variety, Dorona di Venezia, not only grows but thrives. Unfortunately in 1966 the tides were greater and more powerful than usual, destroying everything they came upon, including the vast majority of vineyards—except for the tiny vineyard next to Santa Maria Assunta, which is what inspired Roberto Cipresso and Desiderio Bisol, the two enologists of Venissa, to found their own vineyard.
These vines are even more magical because over the course of the year’s they’ve adapted perfectly to Venice’s tides rising daily – they’re used to the water’s salinity and are able to survive it, something which is wonderfully reflected in the wine’s palpable minerality.
L’Aperitivo Veneziano – known as Cicchetti
To pay further homage to the city of Venice, I simply had to choose one of the most well known foods and moments of consumption throughout the day. Aperitivo is one of the most important moments of the day in Venice. Locals and tourists gather at the hundreds of bars, small restaurants and bacari to enjoy a glass of wine and an assortment of finger foods, known as cicchetti.
These can vary from a tiny sandwich filled with cured meats and cheese to baccala’ mantecato on crunchy bread and sarde in saor: anchovies preserved in agrodolce (a mix of vinegar, olive oil and salt). The criteria is bite-size food and local products, and it’s important to note that they are not traditionally prepared at home. Cicchetti are something Venetians eat when they go out and socialize, they represent community and the wonderfully Italian custom of gathering at 6:30pm for a glass of wine and snack.
Polpettine di vitello and baccalà mantecato are the two cicchetti I chose to pair with this week’s wine, as a way of demonstrating that both meat and fish work perfectly with macerated wine. What’s great about both recipes is that you can make them in advance and in large quantities with little fuss, making them perfect as appetizers for a dinner party or when hosting your own aperitivo.
To access to the full recipe visit Carlotta’s Blog @ https://www.lapanzapiena.com/collaborations.html
Venice Coolest Bars
If you wanna drink local in Venice, moreover our wine suggestions you should enter in a bar and ask for a Spritz ! You can choose between the classic bitter (with Campari), the Aperol version (which tastes a little bit of medicine) or the Al Select (sweeter medicine). Someone said that best Spritz can be found in cake shops (and very cheap aperitivo) than bars, but here is a selection of the coolest spots in the city were to enjoy your cocktails:
Bar Ristorante la Piscina – Dorsoduro 782, Venice (00 39 041 520 6466; lacalcina.com)
Caffè Centrale – San Marco 1659, Venice (00 39 041 2960664; caffecentralevenezia.com)
Da Bonifacio – Calle degli Albanesi, Castello 4237, Venice (00 39 041 5227507)
The Harry’s Bar – Calle Vallaresso, San Marco 1323, Venice (00 39 041 528 5777; cipriani.com)
La Mascareta – Calle lunga Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5183, Venice (00 39 041 5230744, ostemaurolorenzon.com)
Margaret Duchamp – Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro 3019, Venice (00 39 041 5286255, camposantamargherita.com)
Caffè Florian – Piazza San Marco, 57 30124 Venice ( 0039 041 520 56 41 caffeflorian.com )