16 Sep Delle Venezie DOC – Italian Pinot Grigio raising the bar
The Delle Venezie DOC is a relatively new DOC, replacing the IGT that previously covered this region, specifically for Pinot Grigio. We will talk about the region, the process of becoming a DOC, the impact of the pandemic, their highly entertaining YouTube marketing campaign as well as two wines that we tasted.
I was presented with samples of two Delle Venezie wines for this piece from the Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC, as part of an online tasting and seminar on the region, in conjunction with with the 2020 Virtual Wine Media Conference. All opinions are my own.
Pinot Grigio. We’ve all heard of it. We’ve probably all had a glass or two. This wine comes from a large area covering 3 regions in northwest Italy.
Delle Venezie DOC
The Delle Venezie DOC covers the region of Trentino, Veneto, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. This is the northeastern part of Italy encompassing Veneto, the region around Venice with its southwestern edge on the Adriatic Sea and Lake Garda on part of its western border, Trentino sits in the region northwest of here, getting into the Italian Alps and then Friuli-Venezia Giulia which is bordered by Austria to the North and Slovenia to the East. This DOC replaces the pre-existing IGT for the region when it comes to Pinot Grigio.
This is the first Italian consortium for territorial extension. What does that mean? Well, an IGT (Indicazione geografica tipica) typically covers large regions and these are wines that have fewer restrictions on viticulture and winemaking techniques. On the wine ladder in Italy, IGT is on a lower rung sitting just above Vino (basic table wine). Above that, you have DOCs (denominazione di origine controllata) which have more restrictions and then DOCGs (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) that have some of the most strenuous restrictions.
The new Delle Venezie DOC encompasses 20 DOCs within this region, but it is specific to the variety of Pinot Grigio. The great part about this is the variety. With so many smaller regions in this DOC, there are variations on soil and climates, and you will be able to find multiple styles of Pinot Grigio.
A little bit on Pinot Grigio
42% of the Pinot Grigio in the world comes from Italy and 96% of that is exported. With the primary export markets being North America, Great Britain, and Germany.
In Italy, there are over 32,000 hectares of vineyards specific to Pinot Grigio and almost 26,500 of those hectares are in the Delle Venezie DOC. (Figures as of 2018 from DOC Delle Venezie).
So, what is the difference between this new DOC and the old IGT?
The differences primarily affect the regulations for quality. Here are the most important changes.
- Must be a minimum of 85% Pinot Grigio from the Trivento area
- Yields are limited. They decreased the amount per hectare by 26 hectoliters per hectare from the previous IGT level.
Creation of the Delle Venezie DOC
Getting to be a DOC is a long process. The DOC was approved in Italy in 2017. EU acceptance has been longer, coming earlier this year. Valentina from the Delle Venezie press office clarified the dates for me.
“…the DOC and the Consorzio were born and founded in 2017 and in August 2020 the DOP obtained the official name protection and consequent registration in the eAmbrosia register by the European Commission and, 20 days after, the Consorzio got also the recognition from the Ministry of Agriculture (Rome).”Valentina Fraccascia, Delle Venezie DOC August 31, 2020
The affects of the pandemic on this new DOC
I was curious as to how the pandemic had impacted the rollout of the DOC. Valentina said that the new DOC has not suffered economically from the pandemic. They have international large-scale distribution.
“Signs of stability compared to last year confirmed by the trend of DOC certifications and bottlings at the end of June, which have even slightly grown, and which suggest an equivalent absorption capacity in the next marketing campaign.”Valentina Fraccascia, Delle Venezie DOC August 31, 2020
Entertaining marketing with Filippo Bartolotta
I also inquired as to how they had pivoted their marketing during the pandemic. This is where their highly entertaining video series with Filippo Bartolotta comes in. It allowed their clients worldwide a resource when they could not taste with them live. She shared with me a bit of their April press release.
In the face of the restrictions imposed by governments around the world that have caused the main trade fairs such as Prowein and Vinitaly to be suspended, the Pinot Grigio delle Venezie Consortium looked to the polyglot fluency of the communicator Filippo Bartolotta. Storyteller, teacher and writer with a foreign background and a huge following especially in the USA, Filippo knows how to transport the auditorium with an engagingly cheerful energy and with the professional firmness of competence. His charisma will reach Europe and the shores of North America – which accommodates the largest exports of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (whose foreign share reaches 95% of the bottled product) – bringing the public of operators in the sector closer to that of wine lovers from around the world.
Therefore, 16 videos that will recount over 100 DOC labels of the latest vintage, 2019, after the introduction of another 3 videos that will lead the listener by the hand to discover the land, the vine and the denomination, revealing the history and the culture of the place but also the ampelographic characteristics of the grape variety and all the processes that make it traceable, safe and guaranteed. But above all, Filippo Bartolotta will raise the curtain on what is the “Italian Style”, that savoir fair that the glass emanates at each twirl, emanating memories of our country, and which is passed on in a sip that is eclectic, fresh and rich in tradition. Pinot Grigio is perfectly able to represent all the facets of the Tre Venezie, thanks to a bond with this land that has historical origins.
The videos are wonderful. They do not lie when they say that Filippo Bartolotta is charismatic. Here is one of the introduction videos, in which he explains how widely Pinot Grigio from the Delle Venezie will pair with food. Additional videos are geared to importers, but…they are highly entertaining as he runs through tastings live on camera and shares with you his thoughts in one take.
The Delle Venezie DOC is raising the bar for Pinot Grigio from this region. With this information in hand, I expected to see some classic Italian wineries, striving for a tradition of quality, or perhaps younger wineries who are breathing new life into the region with thoughtful wines….hmm…Here are the two wines I received.
Tommasi 2019 Le Rosse Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC
Tommasi – This wine is a 4th generation family winery based in Valpolicella. Yes, of course, they make Amarone. They also own vineyards in Tuscany, Puglia, Basilicata, and Oltrepo Pavese in Lombardy. This is not a small producer.
Filippo describes it at 5:28 into this video. They are very well known in Italy.
The Tommasi Le Rosse is a single vineyard Pinot Grigio from Le Rosse vineyard in the Valpolicella Classico area.
Prophecy 2019 Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio
Contrast that with our other wine. Prophecy Wines Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio.
Here, the company has invested in beautiful labels. They tell a story about each wine, and you can read up on the Artist Victo Ngai. She is an award-winning illustrator from Hong Kong who is New York based and has received numerous awards.
What you won’t find, is many details on the vineyard or vineyards, the name of the winemaker, or any other real details on the wine. They have added a page on their blog about the sourcing of their wines. They source different varieties from their best-known regions globally hence a Pinot Grigio from the Delle Venezie. They do supply a description, full of visuals, and few details on their blog.
“Our Pinot Grigio offers a glimpse into the classic wines of Northeastern Italy, where the grape flourishes against the backdrop of the region’s stunning landscape. The high-altitude vineyards lie in the shadow of snow-capped mountains and vines that thrive in the cool air climate of the Adriatic Coast, resulting in elegant and crisp Pinot Grigio wines with citrus characteristics, delicate hints of white flowers and signature minerality.”From the Prophecy site
You can see Filippo wax poetic on the label at 13:38 into this video.
The wines? Both were enjoyable. I enjoyed the Tommasi best, it was a little leaner and more elegant, softer and rounder. The Prophecy felt a little larger and in my face. But, in all honesty, I might have been biased based on my research. I want a real story, not a marketing ploy behind my wine. So much of my enjoyment of wine comes from the stories. If this had been a blind tasting, would my reaction have been the same? I think that I would have still leaned toward the subtleties of the Tommasi and referred to the Prophecy as a bit bolder.
I will admit that the Prophecy label is eye-catching and striking, which is great when you are looking for it in the grocery store. I found it at our nearby Smiths when I was last in the wine section there. The price online I found for it was $10.99. the Tommasi from Wine.com retails at $15.99.
The 2020 Harvest
I receive a press release about the 2020 Harvest. The Pinot Grigio harvest in Veneto finished in early September. Overall, quantity was down, and quality was up. With the decrease in supply, the price of grapes increased. We will see if this translates into higher prices on shelves for the 2020 vintage.
This region, so known for Pinot Grigio, has set their sites on increasing quality for their wines. For consumers, that is rarely a bad thing. So I encourage you to watch for the Delle Venezie DOC on the bottle.
Sources & resources
- Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC
- Corsorzio Delle Venezie YouTube
- Tommasi Family Estates
- Prophecy Wines
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Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.