Vignalta, Colli Euganei | 538 Wine Notes
2011 Rosso Riserva
Vignalta was founded in 1980 by Lucio Gomiero in Colli Euganei (the Venetian Hills) of Northern Italy. After years of tasting quality Bordeaux wines, Lucio felt inspired to produce wines of similar caliber in his native land. Since Colli Euganei shares the same lines of latitude as Bordeaux, red Bordeaux varieties have since proven to thrive in the region and have quickly replaced many indigenous varieties following the phylloxera devastation in the 1800’s.
Of the roughly 40 suppliers, Vignalta is the only estate to diversify its vineyard holdings and to take advantage of the unique soil/variety combinations in the area. Lucio paved the way for quality wine production in a region traditionally known for producing average wines. It has since gained notable recognition on a global scale.
In the hills above Padua within a thirty-minute drive from Venice is a small wine appellation known as Colli Euganei. Colli Euganei is well worth mentioning because not only is the countryside exquisite but unlike its neighbor, Soave that only produces white wines, they produce some pretty spectacular reds.
The region is known for its volcanic hills that surround the area. Colli means hills in Italian and Euganei were the ancient people who inhabited this district.
Also, known as the Venetian Hills or the “sea cliffs”, they came into being as the result of seismic shifts of rocks and substrata that eventually formed rounded hills and some more conical ones. The conical shaped hills are the result eruptions where the lava escaped from the seabed while the rounded hills were those where the magna stayed inside the mound but raised the seabed. Both formations are critical in the diversity of the Colli Euganei terroir.
As the oceans receded some sections developed warm springs. Hence Colli Euganei is recognized for its therapeutic baths. Rivers and streams crossed this region providing access by waterway to Venice and Padua. The Romans built canals, which connected towns between the two cities. Thus, the Euganei Hills became an area where many Venice dignitaries constructed their country homes. These villas add to the beauty of the Euganei Hills.
What is unique about the terroir in Colli Euganei is not only its volcanic soils but also the fact that the vineyards are surrounded by sulfured springs and hot water vapors play a significant role on the growing of grapes. I think this may be most notable in the Bordeaux varietals and blends.
Bordeaux varietals Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have found a natural home in this area of Veneto. These vines were introduced in the Colli Euganei in the 19th century, adapting very well to the volcanic hills. These varieties did so well, that they replaced in a short period of time, other local red varieties after Phylloxera wiped out vineyards at the turn of the century.
The Rosso Riserva is made with a blend of Merlot and Cabernet grapes and is the true expression of the Colli Euganei terroir, a nice balance between fruit and tannins, softened with two years of oak barrel aging. The 2011 is the current vintage as Lucio gladly holds the release of all his wines until they are drinking properly.