Garganega is one of the white wine grape varietals which is grown predominantly around Verona, within the Veneto region in Italy. Until very recently, these grapes were once one of the most planted varietals of white grapes in Italy. These grapes make up the basis of the Venetian white wine known as Soave DOPs along with Soave Superiore DOCG. These grapes have more recently featured in blends with Pinot Grigio.
In the wine region of Soave, Garganega is the primary varietal which makes up between 70 to 100% of the blended wines, which include the usual Chardonnays and Trebbiano’s. Yet in the “Classico” wine zones of Soave, the yields are kept lower and controlled, where the grapes are known for producing delicate Garganega wine with notes of citrus, dried herbs, and almond. Spread throughout Italy, these grapes are grown in smaller plantings in the areas of Friuli and Umbria.
The grapes that are grown in Sicily are locally called Grecanico Dorato. It is on this island that the grapes ripen late which produces wines that feature a tangy and lively acidity. The acid levels which are naturally high in Garganega wine also lends well to producing “sweet recioto” wines which then offer the opportunity to improve with age in the bottle for 10 years or more.
DNA testing on these grapes has not yet been able to identify the “genetic” parents of the Garganega grapes. Yet currently there are relationships between 7 of the grape varietals found across the south to the north of Italy, which is a possible indication that Garganega is the primary varietal when it comes to the pedigree associated with many of the white classic Italian grape varietals,
The Garganega grapes reflect the manner and environment where they are grown. In cooler regions, these grapes exhibit green apple and flinty characteristics along with a good structure due to its acidity which is well-defined. In warmer regions the Garganega wine produced offer delicate expressions of stone-fruit and citrus flavors.
However, any of the characteristics of these wines become easily diluted when the vines are left to over-crop which is the natural inclination of these grapes. In regions such as Umbria, the Colli Perugini and Colli Amerini hills are the home to a few Garganega vines where the grapes are mainly used as one of the minor blending ingredients for the sparking and dry white wines. Garganega grapes also play minor roles in the Colli Euganei DOP and Bianco di Custoza DOP wines.
The Garganega wines are typically delicate and light bodied with a favorable acidity. The aromas of honeydew melon, apple, and white flowers are followed up by distinctive flavors of pear, lemon, greengage, with an almond finish. A few of the wines of better quality are treated using oak which results in a fuller bodied wine. The Garganega based-wines are better consumed while they are still fresh and young.
The better quality Soave wines feature the label Soave Classico. These grapes are grown in soils of better quality, with yields that are more restricted which results in flavor profiles that are more concentrated.