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Garganega

by Staff Writer - R. Meoki | June 29, 2011

Garganega is a delicate white wine with notable flavors of almond, lemon and a light spices. It has a pale color with soft lemon hues. The Garganega grape variety is one of Italy’s most planted grapes and comes from the Veneto region, which is a province of Verona. Garganega is the primary component of the Venetian wine Soave. Soave is a full-bodied wine with good acidity and has the aromas of honeydew melon, pear and yellow or white flowers. Garganega grapes are also the key grape used in “recioto” or “Straw Wine” which is known as the warm climate ice wine style. It also provides a basis to Gambellara wine (a light, crisp, dry white wine that is similar to the Soave wines but generally not outstanding).

While best drunk young, the Garganega's high acidity does allow it to be used in the creation of sweet wines that age better and achieve higher complexity. The higher acidity content in Garganega does allow for long term cellaring and aging. Garganega is also known as: Gargana, Lizzana, and Ostesona.

Garganega Grapes

Garganega grapes are a late-ripening and extremely vigorous vine, with medium sized, pentagonal leaves with pronounced notches. The loosely-knit clusters are long, cylindrical and winged, which support spherical, thick skinned, juicy grapes of moderate to high acidity, medium in size and are pale white-green in color.

Garganega is the most widely planted white grape variety grown in the northeastern Italian region of Veneto, where it has been established for several centuries. Garganega is an ancient vine which is nearly identical to Sicily’s Grecanico (white grape variety used widely in the white wines of Sicily). Garganega is thought to be of early Greek origin. Cultivated to a smaller extent in Friuli, Lombardy and Umbria, it is found almost nowhere else. As with many styles of grapes that are allowed to produce high yields, many Garganega-based wines, such as Soave, are generally considered bland and unexciting. But if the yields are controlled and there is careful winemaking, vintners can produce enjoyable, elegant wines that reveal Garganega’s notable almond character.

Although Soave has received a bad reputation in recent decades due to over production in the Soave Classico region, Garganega has been used to create a very delicate, sophisticated wine with citrus and spicy notes. Responsible for lots of bland and undistinguished wine, when Garganega grapes are grown in the best climates and yields are restricted, the grapes can produce an elegant, delicate wine with balance, structure and texture with flavors of almonds and citrus.

Garganega is also produced in a “recioto” version, which is when the grapes are dried on mats after being picked. The resulting semi-raisins slowly ferment to produce a sweet dessert wine, which can age for decades.

Garganega Food Pairings

Garganega is excellent as an aperitif (a drink served before a meal to stimulate the appetite), and it is also a great pairing with Asian cuisine, curry, soups, pasta, poultry and light antipasti. Garganega is also nicely matched with seafood such as crab, oysters, sea bass and the richer versions of Garganega can handle pasta with cream sauce. Garganega is best when served between 46°-50°F.

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