An age-old rhyme goes that the people of Padua are all very learned, referring to the fact the city is home to the second-oldest university in Italy, where illustrious names such as Galileo Galilei have taught. When it comes to wine, one immediately thinks of the volcanic-origin Euganean Hills, famed for their Yellow Muscat and reds produced using Bordeaux varieties, but the township of Bagnoli and the Benedictine farms have some very pleasant surprises in store.
The Euganean Hills: soil and climate
The majority of the vineyards in the Colli Euganei DOC appellation are situated on the hillsides and at the feet of the hills contained within the regional nature reserve established in 1968. Each hill has its own character, with different soil types – some rich in marlstone and clay, others in lime and trachyte – as well as individual microclimates within a generally temperate, Mediterranean climate. Olive trees, chestnuts, oaks and acacias grow alongside the rows of vines, and Mediterranean shrubland is found in the warmer area to the south.
The Euganean Hills: grape varieties
The historic star of winemaking in these hills is the heavily perfumed Moscato Giallo (Yellow Muscat), while Bordeaux varieties arrived from France towards the end of the nineteenth century and found a very favourable habitat here. Other traditional dark grapes grown in this area include the Raboso Piave and a number of little-known varieties that have recently been rediscovered – Marzemina Nera Bastarda, Corbinella, Corbinona and Pataresca. The main white-wine varieties are Garganega, Serprina and Pinella.
The Euganean Hills: wines
The “star” of the appellation is doubtless Fior d’Arancio DOCG. Three different versions can be made: still (dry), sparkling (sweet) and Passito (straw wine), all of which present fine flavours and good aromatic complexity.
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Carmenère grapes produce particularly elegant varietal and blended wines. We could describe the reds of the Euganean hills as having and elegant and full-bodied Veneto-Bordeaux style; the result is powerful yet graceful wines that age well.
Bagnoli: soil and climate
To the east of the Euganean hills, towards the area famed for its thermal spas, the Bagnoli DOC appellation covers an area of the lowlands where agriculture has been practised for thousands of years. The vines grow from soils formed of a mixture of sediment and alluvium, with a high content in lime and organic matter. The nearby Euganean hills provide constant breezes.
Bagnoli: grape varieties and wines
The quality wines produced here centre around the Raboso Piave variety, a native variety long used in the Veneto region which is used in the guaranteed-origin (DOCG) Friularo appellation. This wine is packed with character and has great aging potential. The appellation can be used when at least 90% of the wine is made up of the eponymous variety; it can be labelled with the designations Riserva, Vendemmia Tardiva (late harvest) and Passito. The classic-method Bagnoli Spumante sparkling wine, made from Friularo grapes and vinified as white or rosé wine, is well worth investigating.
The Benedictine farmyards: soil and climate
In the countryside to the south of Padua, there are a number of large farmyards surrounded by high walls, built from the 12th century onwards thanks to donations made by the Church to the Benedictine monks here. This area enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate and the wines produced here bear the Corti Benedettine del Padovano DOC appellation. The land is flat and the soils are of sedimentary origin, with varying percentages of lime and sand.
The Benedictine farmyards: grape varieties and wines
Mostly international grape varieties are grown in the DOC area, together with some traditional indigenous grapes such as Raboso Piave, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Tai (Tocai Friulano) and Moscato Giallo. A wide range of different wines is produced, mainly varietals, all with a tendency for fruity softness and roundness.