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dr. Kricsfalvi Anita
wset3 sommelier and tourism expert

North Italian winetour

We are crossing from East to West some top wine regions starting from Friuli-Veneto, the famous Prosecco region jumping in Alto-Adige, Süd Tirol, crossing Garda lake best wine sights to Piemonte, which is in itself a separate region to be considered for its variety and quality of wines and sparkling wines so check it under the separate menu (Piemonte). These regions are worth visiting a few days each, but in a one week intensive tour, the visitor can get a decent overview of the best varieties in the territory.

Prosecco region (Friuli, Veneto)

The world famous charmat (sorry, name it if you go to Italy rather after the Italian Martinotti) method sparkling wine area starts near Trieste, in the small municipality of Prosecco and covers the area of nine towns. Prosecco is a sparkling wine which must be made in this particular area and from the grape Glera in min. 85%, only for the ramaining 15% can be used local grapes.

Within the Prosecco area, there is a distinguished, Prosecco DOCG area, which covers fifteen minicipalities that use this quality mark as well (Rive, Cartizze, Asolo and Conegliano Valdobbiadene, the latter one can also use the mark Prosecco Superiore DOCG).

All the rest of spakling wines made of Glera grape, but out of the Prosecco region can only be named as Glera wines...

Prosecco region is a spectacular landscape, with steep, sunny slopes in the Valdobbiadene vineyards giving this unique aromatic , elderflower and honey-flower tastes for its Cartizze, most prestigous dry/demi sec prosecco wines, and a similar aromas for the most typical Extra Dry Prosecco sparkling wines all over the area. Climate here, by its wide range of daily temperature variety and the steep and sunny slopes allow the grapes to withhold their full aromas, yet not loosing their acidity.

I strongly reccomend in my Prosecco tour cellars offering tasting of the old traditional bottle fermented prosecco, "sui lieviti" which gives similar tastes to the tradiotional champagne method sparkling wines. It is not to be lost for tasting for those who prefer brut or extra brut sparkling wines.

It is worth mentionning Robiola Gialla, a popular white wine near the Slovenian border in Friuli, which has citrus, apple, flowerish aromas yet a remarkable acidity used for sparkling and non sparkling white wines either. Pinot Grigio is the most popular whie wine of the Friuli area in the world,thanks to its grapefruit, lemonpeel and flower based rich taste.

This recommended wine tour is worth combining with a small ski holiday in the mountains why not in Cortina d1ampezzo that will host the next Winter Olympic Games in 2026, or in summer at the seaside in Caorle, and in any season a gastronomy tour in the famous prosciutto di San Daniele region just close by Udine just at the feet of the Dolomites where excellent cheese varieties and grappa manufactories can complete your tasting tour.

Alto Adige/Süd Tirol

Let's start with the excellent Trento DOC traditional method sparkling wines of high quality, which got its reputation from the biggest winery Ferrari, but many smaller yet excellent quality Trento DOC can be recommended (Bellaveder, Bailoni, Lina Ester just to mention some of them). The steep slopes often at a 900m height guarantee many sunny hours, wide daily temperture range, cool moutain climate is ideal for early harvest with high acidity wich is a must if you want to have the best wines to be fermented for long years producing excellent Extra Brut and Brut Trento DOC sparkling wines. The terroir, stony soils of the mountains is rich of minerals which reappear in the firm, clear characteristics, let us call it a minimalist style. these fine sparkling wines so different to the evanly prestigious but more fruity and gentle style of Franciacorta DOCG sparkling wines just 200 km further towards Milano, at the Iseo lake region.

This wine region further toward Bolzano produces also some excellent red wines apart from Schiava and Laghrein here we find the best local red varieties, Cabernet, Merlot and mostly some of the top Italian Pinot Noir red wines in the Egna area.

Between Trento and Bolzano starting from Termeno/Tramin which gave its name to the top Gewürz Taraminer spicy white wine, up to Caldaro lake on the mountain slopes we find on our tour some of the best spicy, aromatic white wines like Gewürz Traminer, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscatel, Müller Thurgau, Chardonnay.

Lombardia and the Garda lake

Land of sightly aromatic but light and fresh white wines of Lugana and Custoza, that is just so easy to drink on long summer evenings on a Garda lake view bar terrace... One has to mention also the nearby Soave white wine region, for its mass production, a not very characteristic and not aromatic easy going white wine with nice acidity, with gaganega grapes in majority and pinot bianco and chardonnay for the remaining part.

As far as red wines, Merlot (Garda Merlot) Cabernet, Marzemmino (already Mozart in don Giovanni refers to this wine), Bardolino and last but not least the most complex and finest Valpolicella region: if one wants to taste some top red complex red wines the right cellars to visit are the Amarone and Ripasso wineries. Amarone is made of dried grapes in order to maximise its complexity, body and flavour resulting in an alcoholic full bodied red wine. Ripasso in the older days was made by second fermentation of the basic red wine on dried red grape skins of the Amarone wines for 10-12 days resulting in a full bodied wine. Ancient Romans already knew and used this method in order to enhance the quality of their local red grapes and to produce longer lasting, greater quantity red wines.

Garda lake, Valpolicella Amarone, Ripasso, Soave wine tour can easily be combined with a Trento/Bolzano tour as Riva del Garda is already starting of the Trento area, connected by the A22 highway.

For the sparkling fans it is a must to combine a Prosecco tour with a Trento and a Franciacorta tour, and why not to close it with an Olrepó Pavese sparkling tour to finish it with the best Pinot noir traditional method sparkling wines which are absoultely amongst my favourites.