Vicenza: home of Palladio. Vicenza: UNESCO world heritage site. Vicenza: twice awarded a gold medal for military valour. Vicenza: city of gold. The city and its hinterland have many faces, but when it comes to wine, we have to head for the hills – to Breganze, the Berici Hills and Gambellara (which we’ll talk about more in another chapter of this story).
Breganze: soil and climate
The Breganze hills unfold from the valley of the river Astico to the valley of the river Brenta, forming part of the Alpine foothills in the province of Vicenza. The soils are mainly composed of basaltic vulcanite with slopes made of lime-rich moraine. A number of vineyards are located in the flatlands, where the soils are more gravelly. The weather is hot in the summer and relatively cold in the winter, with rainfall at intervals throughout the year.
Breganze: grape varieties
Vines have been grown here for centuries, but it’s only been since the end of the Second World War that the wines produced in this area have gained notice. Painstaking work in the vineyards has led to traditional grape varieties, such as Vespaiola and Marzemino, being rediscovered, while the best has been brought out in imported varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenère, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Tai (Tocai Friulano), Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon.
The flagship wine is the unique Vespaiolo, a fruity, fresh and delicately perfumed wine. The same variety – also called “Bresparola” – is used to produce an excellent traditional passito called Torcolato. The red wines made from the Bordeaux varieties are excellent, thanks to the ideal soil and climatic conditions. We should also mention the work done by a number of grape farmers to preserve some lesser known local varieties: Pedevendo, Groppello and the ultra-rare Gruajo.
Colli Berici: soil and climate
Travelling a few miles to the west, we reach the Berici Hills with their caves, crags and hollows. The hills are mostly relatively low, and they present calcium-rich rocks of mixed volcanic and sedimentary origin. The climate is distinguished by mild temperatures until the late autumn, limited rainfall and a large temperature range – the perfect blend of characteristics for grape-growing.
Colli Berici: wines
In the Colli Berici DOC appellation zone, red wines play the starring role. The Tai Rosso from the autochthonous Tocai Rosso grape (a close relation to Grenache) is a floral, harmonious wine with a strong local identity. The varieties hailing from the Bordeaux region – in particular, Merlot and Carmenère – are also much in use, having had nearly two hundred years to acclimatise. Garganega and Tai (formerly Tocai Friulano) are the most widely cultivated white-wine varieties.