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Fratelli Zenato is a third generation family-owned vineyard and winery. Located in the heart of the prized Lugana DOC district on the southern slopes of Lake Garda, this vineyard enjoys its own unique microclimate. Almost totally surrounded by mountains, the Zenato family vineyards are protected from cold Alpine winds, but they also benefit from the warm breeze of the Po Valley to the south. In addition, Lake Garda itself moderates temperatures and creates a soothing fog that shields young vines from the hard morning sun. Such is the favorable position of the Fratelli Zenato.
Under the watchful eye of Sergio Zenato, the estate's winemaker, not only is meticulous care given to the family vineyards, but a rigorous selection of grapes takes place prior to vinification. In recognition of his efforts, Zenato has received numerous awards and accolades for his wine and for his efforts to raise the quality of the entire Veneto.
Known for an exquisite Lugana, Pinot Grigio, and Valpolicella, Zenato also produces small quantities of local specialties Recioto and Amarone.
For his delicate, flavorful white wine, Zenato employs a prolonged, cool fermentation in stainless steel. Then he ages the whites in bottle before releasing them for sale. Such practices preserve the natural fresh fruit quality inherent in the estate's white wines. They also add both balance and harmony without the residual sugar or harsh acidity so typical of lesser producers of Lugana and Pinot Grigio. Zenato's red wines are handled in a more traditional vein, whereby fermentation occurs at higher temperatures to extract flavor and grip from the skins of the grape. In any event, the wines of this estate continue to go from one strength to the next.
The Veneto, known for centuries as the "crossroads of Europe" is a captivating land that retains as much of the flavor of the ancient Levant as it does the lore and intrigue of the world's most famous lovers, Romeo and Juliet. With Venice as its anchor, Verona as its heart, and the Alps as its eye to the north, the Veneto is a strikingly diverse and prolific land. Both completely modern and thoroughly rustic, the Veneto leads the juggernaut of wine called Italy in the production and commerce of fine DOC wines. With its total annual production of wine approaching one billion liters, the Veneto basks in the glory of its reputation as both a showcase of modern wine technology and a bastion of sumptuous artisan wines.
Home to Shakespeare's Montagues and Capulets as well as the world's largest wine fair, Vinitaly, Verona is the undisputed capital of Italian wine. From the hills and plains that radiate from this immortal city flow copious quantities of familiar wines: Bardalino, Soave, Valpolicella and Amarone. In addition, just about every wine varietal known to man is represented among the quarter million acres of vines that grace the Veneto.
Although the Veneto's classic wines: Soave, the light, white from Garganega and Trebbiano grapes and the red Bardolino and Valpolicella, from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinari, still constitute the lion's share of the DOC wine production in the Veneto, they are far from being the only game in a party town. Increasingly, Merlot, Cabernet and especially Pinot Grigio are gaining ground and international recognition.
Introduced to the Veneto from the neighboring Trentino and Colli Orientalli, Pinot Grigio seems to have recently captured the hearts of consumers worldwide. Fuller, richer, and more assertive than Soave, Pinot Grigio possesses personality, for which the wine-consuming public is most thankful. Yet, in spite of its rise to power and the quality of the wine it produces, even exemplary estate-bottled Pinot Grigio from the Veneto has been denied a DOC designation. Along with Cabernet and Merlot based wines, and a host of other fine varietals, Pinot Grigio from this region may only be labeled del Veneto or designated as vino del tavola (table wine). Such is the Byzantine intrigue of Italian law and wine.
Along with the production of many excellent still whites and reds the Veneto is home to a burgeoning sparkling wine trade. The best examples of this bubbly are usually labeled "Prosecco" or are made by the old-line prosecco producers from Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay.
Another Veronese specialty is Recioto, made from the "recie" (ears) or top portions of the grape bunches, which have been left to dry, then crushed. The resulting wine is often sweet and rich. Amarone, a dry rendition of Recioto, offers even more complexity and flavor than the sweet Recioto. Connoisseurs consider Amarone to be one of the world's finest and most intriguing wines-a wine that combines great strength with compelling character.
If all this talk of fine Veronese wines hasn't gone to your head, just think of beautiful Lake Gorda as the backdrop for the Veneto. Steeped in vines, history and romance, the waters of this alpine lake flow out to the Adriatic, just south of Venice. Surrounded by such beauty and abundance, it is no wonder the Venetians thought they should rule the world.
The Veneto was one of the first recipients in Europe of goods provided by early explorations to the Far East. It also reaped the initial benefits of the Arab world that were brought back by returning Crusaders. Teas, herbs, spices, and grains introduced centuries ago are still prevalent in the Venetian diet. Fish and shellfish from the Adriatic are plentiful and often used in risotto. Scampi, mussels, snails, and spider crabs are also popular. Livestock, rice, and corn are raised inland, and the western hills provide game, mushrooms, and a climate suitable for aging prosciuto, salami, and cheeses, most notably Asiago and Montasio. Radicchio and endive also play an important role in the diet of the Veneto. And, although rice remains more popular than pasta in the Veneto, the region is known, too, for its handmade pastas: bigoli, spaghetti, and ravioli, in particular.
The Veneto presents a wealth of natural beauty, the viewing of which is made even more pleasant when enjoyed with a glass of local wine in hand.
Generally, Fratelli Zenato's Pinot Grigio is a good wine on its own, but it also makes a nice match with all kinds of pasta, from various noodles and gnocchi all the way to ravioli, cannelloni, and tortellini, as long as they're not doused in a tomato-based sauce-pesto. Cheese, butter-and-sage, and creamy sauces are all fine, and seafood ravioli simmered in fish stock pairs brilliantly with this fine wine. Various veal-cutlet dishes are also terrific, whether as schnitzel or scallopini, as long as they're relatively simple preparations. Lasty, Pinot Grigio goes very well with some fish, especially trout and salmon.
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