Posted by: tomciocco | April 20, 2012


The name “Valpolicella”, which is likely The Veneto’s most famous appellation, roughly translates as “the valley of many cellars”, and what applies to this famous zone, applies as well to The Veneto as a whole: this entire, large region is weedy with grape vines grown under the aegis of scores of appellations, and just north of the city of Vicenza is one of these many regions, Breganze (breh-GAN-zeh).

Like many of the appellations in The Veneto, Breganze is permitted to produce red, white, rose, dry, sweet, and sparkling wines from grape varities both autocthonous and alien. Of these multi-colored, widely-derived, and  variously sweetened wines, a “sticky” (as the Brits call sweet wines) called Torcolato, made from a somewhat obscure white grape called Vespaiolo, is likely the most famous…like I said, there’s a LOT of wine made in the Veneto… 

The name “Vespaiolo” (vess-pai-YOH-lo), again, roughly translated, comes out in English more or less as “wasper” which refers to its propensity to draw wasps to its presumably highly tempting flowers and very sweet berry clusters. It should be no wonder that Vespaiolo is so well suited to making dessert wines, but not just, as this evening’s very nice and unequivocally dry example will speak to. Vespaiolo yields a zippy, but fairly rich and spicy wine that is (almost) as well-suited to making stand-alone  dry wines as an intense, honeyed sweeties…

Dinner was a first course of pappardelle in a butter and Parmigiano sauce with melted radicchio and zucchini with marjoram, and for the main course, the classic pesce in cartoccio – fish (in this case Blackfish) baked in parchment paper with vegetables (my choice was fennel and yellow pepper), lemon, thyme, white wine, etc…









Soarda Breganze Vespaiolo 2010

Very pale, “white gold” color. Slightly exotic nose of minerals, almond milk, tropical fruit notes, new leather, sawdust, medicinal herbs, and dried flowers. The medium body is tangy, taut, and nervous, but with a deep, slightly oily texture, and fairly powerful but fresh flavors of cooked grains, gooseberry, and yellow cherry. Big, clean, bittersweet “cinnamon bun” finish.



  1. Tom-I just started representing the wines of Jan D’Amore in New Jersey, of which Contra Soarda is one. It’s a great portfolio of small, artisanal producers who are working with and in some cases even rescuing unusual indigenous varietals. I’m glad you liked the vespaiolo-I do too. It’s been a long time, let me know if you’d like to try some of Jan’s other wines (see them all at

  2. Hey Tom-

    Long time no see indeed! Thanks for the comment, congratulations on your new gig, and tell Jan I said hello (if he remembers me)…Shoot me an email at when you get a chance…


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