Monday, October 9, 2023


This month the Italian Food Wine Travel group #ItalianFWT explored wines from the very well known region of Veneto and hardly known (outside Italy) town of Gambellara in Veneto, northern Italy. Our host this month is Deanna Atk from Wineivore. It's Q4 and nearly year-end so with everyone's life and travel schedules we won't have a chat this month. But the list (and links) of all of us who've written about the grapes and wines of Veneto is at the end of this post so do scroll over to browse each article and be inspired!


Gambellara is a lovely village/town in Veneto to the east of Verona and over the hill from Soave, where like Soave, most wines are made from Garganega grapes. It's a hidden gem with wine makers at small wineries who generally practice biodynamic farming and often are certified organic. Gambellara has had DOC status since 1970, two years before Soave. But Soave is more famous internationally simply because it produces a much higher volume of wine so the wine gets around. And also, not sure why, but the US & UK demand for Soave wine surged in the 80s.

If you've travelled to any Old World wine producing region you likely know that there are usually local grapes that are hugely popular as wine but virtually unknown outside. E.g. Pignoletto in Emilia-Romagna. 
And winemakers there adhere to the specificity of certain aspects of wine and winemaking but aren't always chasing a specific high mark of origin (DOC, DOCG, ...etc.) so they get creative while adhering to the broader requirements of marks of origin like IGT that allow winemakers greater freedom of expression. In Gambellara as well, while they have Gambellara Classico DOC (1970) and Gambellara Recioto DOCG (2009), the rest can be Veneto IGT (1995). Veneto IGT was introduced in 1995 to allow winemakers more freedom (i.e. less stringent requirements compared to DOC & DOCG) and meet the growing international demand. However, it has also resulted in winemakers who make all three levels of wine and use the broader Veneto IGT mark to show their creativity with wines like the sparkling Veneto IGT wine I've reviewed below.


100% Garganega
ABV 10.5%
SRP ~$23

Davide Vignato is heading the winery his grandfather and father started in the 1950s. They have been farming their 12 hectares organically since 1997, although Davide's first vintage was 2006. A third of their land is planted with Garganega vines which grow on terraced steep hillsides on volcanic soil enriched with basaltic lava that decomposes to add back potassium and magnesium into the soil. This unique soil composition is also what makes Garganega in this area quite aromatic.

Davide's approach to the Garganega grapes from his 25-year old vines located in the Monti di Mezzo and Faldeo subregions is low-intervention wine. Grape bunches are pressed, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel, and left on the spent yeast "sur lie" for a few months. There is no added sulphur, to really highlight what the decomposing lava-rich terroir offers on the palate. Dosage is in the form of Gambellara Recioto must to aid second fermentation in the bottle, and there is no disgorgement or any other refinement so the wine continues to lie on the spent yeast for a few more months before it is ready to enjoy. Quite different from Prosecco, and with a fine slew of bubbles in this low alcohol wine, it is brilliant as an aperitivo in convivial company, or paired with something equally aromatic as the wine itself.

Here in Silicon Valley we are submerged in a sea of dynamic tech founders. But they key takeaway from interactions with people like that is their perseverance, belief in what they are making, and their courage to take a chance on something new. Sometimes a new form of something old. Its a different energy, different vibe, and so energising! That is what attracted me to this wine. 

Looks: turbid, pale yellow with persistent but fine racy perlage (bubbles)

Nose: warm bread, white flowers, faint oxidative hint of apple, and a passing whiff of tart citrus

Palate: Echos the nose, but also has a fresh mineral edge and ends with the almond note often tasted in wines that don't have full phenolic ripeness. Racy and persistent bubbles, a very light but elegant wine with a delicious, medium finish. 

Pairing: We had this Garganega frizzante with southern Thai roasted fish (halibut) enrobed in a yellow curry sauce, rice, and dipping sauce. This was our first meal after over a month in Italy and France and we were ready for the deep complexity of South/Southeast Asian flavours. The sweetness and spice of the curry was wonderful with the wine and really brought to the top the floral notes in the wine. The oxidative apple and almond notes melded beautifully with the dipping sauce (that I used as a drizzle over the fish) - the fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, with the slight heat of Thai chillies were magical with the wine. I always leave the skin on fish - it helps keep the fish moist. 

We have since made this exact meal twice, since we had more bottles of this wine. It's just terrific. If you can get your hands on this wine, do try it!

I've talked about the Veneto wine that spoke to me this time but see what the other writers sipped, savoured, and talked about below.
  • Our host Deanna at Wineivore talks about 
  • "A Taste of Verona, Italy"
  • My discovery of this region is here on Keep the Peas where I talk about “Gambellara, Veneto: A Bubbly Wine and a Revelation!"
  • "Crumbs: Scaia, Pearà, and Mussels alla Buzara" from Camilla at Culinary Cam
  • "La Gioiosa Brut Rosé & Raspberry Soup" from Andrea at The Quirky Cork
  • "The Hills Near Verona and the Organic, Biodynamic, and Regenerative wines of Fasoli Gino and Tasi/Crushed Grape Chronicles" from Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles
  • "7 Veneto Wines and a Meal with Memories from My Visit: Venice, Verona, Valdobbiadne, Valpolicella, Soave" from Gwendolyn at Wine Predator
  • "The Custoza Grape of the Veneto with Cantina Gorgo" / Vino Travels" from Jennifer at Vino Travels
  • "Beyond Prosecco: Carménère is Cultivated in Veneto, Too" from Cindy at Grape Experiences


  1. A frizzante Garganega?!? I definitely need to hunt down a bottle of that wine.

  2. This is fantastic! I love the wine you chose, the details you included, and the food pairing. So good. I'm so glad you could join the event, and nice to "see" you online!

  3. Oooo I've never had a sparkling Garganega! How lucky to find that. I love the pairing too, sounds delicious!