Discovering an area of surprising beauty, between ancient volcanoes and spas, easily reachable from the highway
There are territories attracting people for wine and others where you can get there for other reasons, discovering that in these areas is produced an excellent wine. The Euganean Hills belong to the second category.
ANCIENT INACTIVE VOLCANOES
Tourists from all over the world come to Abano and Montegrotto Terme linked to another category of travel: the spa treatments. This is the largest European wellness district, with one hundred specialized hotels and over two hundred thermal pools. Many visitors, during their experience, do not move from the hotel and, if they do it, is to visit the nearby city of Padua which has its undoubted attractions, such as the fourteenth-century pictorial cycles that have recently opened the doors of world heritage to it (Unesco recognition dates back to last summer). Few, very few visitors perhaps, face the sometimes tortuous paths that lead to wineries from which you can enjoy an amazing panorama, even more during the cold season when the sky is clear and everything seems to shine, especially the conical shapes of the ancient volcanoes that characterize the unmistakable Euganean landscape. Yes, because these hills are ancient extinct volcanoes, of low altitude (the Venda, with its 601 meters, is the only hill elevated to the dignity of a mountain) and ideal terrain for viticulture, which is practiced here from the mists of time.
Unlike what happens in another hilly area of Veneto, that of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene where Glera (from which Prosecco is obtained) has a monopoly on cultivation, in the Hills of Padua there is a great variety of vines. The most common, among the white berried ones, are the yellow Moscato from which the Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio D.O.C.G is obtained, the Serprino (traceable as a biotype to the Glera) and the Chardonnay. Among the red berried ones, the internationals dominate: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and in several cases Syrah. The territorial strategy was based more and more on Moscato, probably because the Veneto lacked an important product on a commercial level among sweet wines and sparkling wines, but this is a sore point among the Euganean producers, that are more and more convinced that they can play excellent cards at the table of great red wines, with ample potential for longevity, thanks to a volcanic soil that certainly represents something different compared to other places where Bordeaux blend production is made. And there are also those who don’t want to hear about Moscato and focus entirely on reds. A visit to the cellars of the Euganean Hills represents an opportunity to understand the potential of these products, which are not very easy to find outside the Veneto region (excluding Fior d’Arancio, also popular abroad), and to get an idea whether those who followed the direction of the Moscatistas are right or who, on the other hand, continues to believe in Bordeaux, waiting for a consecration from the market.
What are the wineries to visit? To get an idea, you can consult the website of the Italian Wine Tourism Movement, where the associated companies and open to the public are present. We have seen five of them, one different from the other and all useful for returning home with a lot more knowledge about the Hills and with a nice trunk full of bottles to enjoy once at home.
VIGNALTA IS POETRY
Among the memories that will remain etched in your mind, after a visit to Vignalta, there are the panorama that can be admired from the tasting room and the barrel room with the exposed rock wall. This vinery, owned by an architect (Lucio Gomiero) with two families of farmers (Paolo Guzzo and Luciano Salvagnin), belongs by right to the history of the denomination because it was one of the first in the Euganean Hills to believe in quality, containing volumes ( 35 hectares, about 240 thousand bottles a year) and obtaining wines destined to defy time, such as the Gemola Rosso (70% Merlot 30% Cabernet Franc) of which we tasted the 2015 vintage. The visit to the company lasts about 90 minutes and consists of: welcome, story of the territory, visit to the cellar, tasting of four wines. All conduced by the excellent Michele Montecchio, director of the winery, supported by the manager of the wine shop Massimo Marinello. Added value: Vignalta is located in Arquà Petrarca and is an excellent reason to visit the village where Francesco Petrarca, the great poet of the Canzoniere, spent the last years of his life. But the opposite is also true: visiting Arquà is an excellent reason to discover Vignalta.
THE KING OF COLD AND ITS OWNERSHIP
Luigi Rossi Luciani is the king of cold control systems and one of the most convinced enthusiasts of viticulture on the Euganean Hills, where he acquired two vineries. After securing the ownership of the Le Volpi, he repeated with Monte Fasolo, applying the principles of sustainability to agriculture to “go beyond organic” in an area that, as he states, “gratifies not only the eye but also the taste “. And if Le Volpi today has been transformed into a charming farmhouse, with 14 rooms available for guests and an infinity pool on the vineyards, Monte Fasolo has become the reference winery with the possibility of organizing guided tours and a wine shop where you can buy wines and organize corporate events and meetings. In the evening, during the summer, there is space for events in the wonderful amphitheater created within the company property, inside which there are very popular paths for trekking and for all those who want to find the slow rhythm of nature. Do not be scared by the gates and the nets: they are not designed to limit the access of those who want to enjoy such beauty, but simply to make the wild boars desist from their goal of breaking into the property. Monte Fasolo also offers a good restaurants, only on weekends.
MAELI, DILÌ AND DILÀ
Elisa Dilavanzo has a past as a finalist for Miss Italy. Her beauty has been transmitted to everything she created in the Euganean Hills, where operates in Maeli as an ambassador of the potential of the yellow Moscato of which the company has explored all possible frontiers, Dilì and Dilà … which are not two directions (in Italian, Dilì and Dilà means something similar to ‘this way that way’), but the versions refermented in the bottle according to the ancestral method (Dilì) and the classic brut nature method (Dilà). An all-female winery, Maeli has a boutique winery with a facade built in trachyte, the volcanic stone of the Euganean Hills, which develops under the hill, respecting the environment and nature that surround it. In the restored farmhouse, country chic style rooms have been created with views of the vineyard and the cellar. There are many events organized in the summer and a lot of attention to visitors, who have the opportunity to purchase accommodation packages directly from the site.
PARCO DEL VENDA AND THE RESISTANT VINES
Michael Toniolo is not a man willing to compromise. His vinery, Parco del Venda, follows a very specific rule: they do just what the cellarman likes. And it does not necessarily mean a niche choice, because Prosecco D.O.C. is also produced here and because most of the production is mostly represented by bulk wine. In short, visiting Parco del Venda you will find yourself in a sui generis world, which reflects the owner’s sincere, sometimes sanguine and a spade a spade character, but also in one of the realities that produces some of the best quality / price ratio in the area. Among the most interesting productions appear those deriving from experiments on resistant vines in collaboration with Vivai Rauscedo, which gave shape to the “Piwi” labels, allowing Parco del Venda to win two gold medals at the International Piwi Wine Award. The company owns 50 hectares of vineyards between the municipalities of Vo ‘, Cinto Euganeo and Galzignano Terme.
ANANDA, A GARAGE WINERY
The photo, taken in the cellar, is worth more than any consideration. And it is the photo of a challenge, that of Edoardo Sacchetto, a 27yo once substantially teetotaler and who recently discovered wine, the passion for viticulture (and for the land in general) practiced with respect for the environment and who decided: this will be my life. He rented a piece of land above Teolo, overlooking the city of Padua, and started his cultivation and his first productions, which he sells online and to some restaurants, even abroad. This is an essential garage cellar with manual bottling and crown cap. Going to this place is a bit like going to visit your grandfather who made you taste his freshly bottled wine, with ancient techniques and with the plus of the product’s wholesomeness, as an authentic grape juice. The winery is called Ananda and can be contacted through Instagram. If you do it and ask him for the possibility of a visit, Edoardo will not say no and will even take you to the top of the hill to tell you what he is doing in the vineyard, introducing you to his rabbits. More than wine tourism, this is like ringing a bell to be welcomed.