Bisol, Venissa and an obscure grape called dorona
I was standing in the middle of Bisol’s vineyards in the heart of the Cartizze region of Valdobbiadene in Northern Italy with a glass of prosecco in hand when I spotted an odd, rusty looking chimney-like apparatus sticking straight up out of the earth at the end of the vineyard. Being The Winesleuth, I had to ask,”What is that? ” “It’s a cannon to fire chemicals into the clouds, so we don’t get hail,” my guide, Consuelo informed me. While I was in Valdobbiadene, I did hear the cannon being fired off every afternoon. It might not be state of the art but it seemed to keep the hail away.
Bisol have been making prosecco for hundreds of years and they’ve perfected the art of prosecco. An easy going, relaxed sparkling wine that is just as good with or without food, Bisol have a whole range of sparklers, from the cheerful Jeio to the seriously experimental NoSo2, Bisol seem to do it all.
Standing in the middle of the vineyard, drinking the wine made from the vines surrounding me was a great experience but then again, it’s always a thrill to drink wine in the vineyards from which they came. I was drinking their Cartizze which is their top of the line wine and enjoying it immensely. Fruity, slightly off dry with lovely green apple, lemon and lime notes and, I’m not sure if it was because of the damp in the air that made the smells of the earth jump into my nose but there was a distinct mineral note coming from my glass.
After sipping the Cartizze, we made our way to the winery where I sampled the NoSo2. The idea behind the NoSo2 is a wine that is made with no exposure to light or oxygen and thus can be produced and sent out without the use of sulfur. A very interesting wine, crisp and very dry, it’s not your grandma’s prosecco, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t call it a prosecco as it had none of the fruity qualities of a traditional prosecco but it is made from the glera grape, is sparkling and comes from Valdobbiadene, so it does qualify as a prosecco. I would however not buy this wine if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful prosecco, this one is for serious wine buffs only.
After a morning spent traipsing around the hillside of Cartizze, a whirlwind tour of the winery and a very filling lunch, I was whisked down from the hills of Valdobbiadene and onto the lagoons of Venice. Seems the Bisol people were having a small Italian wine and food symposium hosted by one of the Bisol’s themselves, Desiderio, on the island of Mazzorbo. They chose that particular island because they have a restaurant and boutique hotel, Venissa, there. A small hotel with only 6 rooms, the rooms either overlook the lagoon or the vineyard that comprises the “back yard” of the hotel.
Mazzorbo is connected to the charming isle of Burano, which is a lovely place to spend the day, crisscrossed by canals with small plazas full of cafes and bars but without the tourists that plague Venice.
The vineyard is planted with the very rare varietal, dorona. Roberto Cipreso, one of the fraternity of flying winemakers, has joined forces with Bisol to cultivate this obscure varietal. Roberto has always been interested in finding what he calls “archeological” grapes and the dorona is one of those grapes. It was lost until recently and only grows on this small plot on the isle of Mazzorbo. I asked Roberto what was special about this grape and he thinks that this particular grape was lost for so long because it has chameleon-like qualities, it disappears and reappears at will. He suggested it was closest in character to garganega. 2010 will be the first vintage of the dorona and Roberto is eager to see how it turns out. There were only 4000 barrels made so needless to say, this will be a very limited edition, if it is released to the general public at all.
The Venissa has rooms available to the general public and the vaporreto ( the Venetian water buses) run regularly from a nearby pier. The Venissa also has a lovely restaurant which is open for dinner and weekend lunch. After all that travelling - from the hills of Valdobbiadene to the lagoons of Venice in one day, I was glad to be able to avoid the bustling touristy crowds of Venice and relax in the calm oasis of Venissa with a relaxing glass of Bisol in hand.