After delving into the Soave and Soave Superiore PDOs, their terroir and soil, it is time to look slightly further north, towards the Lessini Mountains and Lessinia, that strip of high lands that extends in the northern part between the provinces of Verona and Vicenza.
This is where the Lessini Durello PDO grows, which can ideally be included from north to south between the municipalities of Schio and Montebello Vicentino; and from east to west between Costabissara and Badia Calavena. The hill ridges that form the Lessini Mountains rise from the Po Valley, of alluvial type, towards the Alps, forming a jagged plateau of valleys, whose sharp silhouette immediately reveals the volcanic nature of the soil.
The Lessini Mountains, whose winegrowing culture dates back at least to the Middle Ages, are named after the ancient Lessinia, an area belonging to the Venetian Prealps that stretches to the province of Trento, whose name seems to originate from the medieval Germanic word “Lees”, meaning «pasture». While others believe that it may instead derive from the Latin word “lixia” from “luxare”, which means «to clear a forest area, making the surface smooth», suitable for grazing. The Lessini Mountains are in fact characterized by forests, but also by wide meadows today partly turned into vineyards and partly dedicated to the breeding of cattle, whose milk is used to make Monte Veronese PDO (which we will discuss later on).
A volcanic terroir with a rich biodiversity
The territory of Lessini Durello is mainly volcanic, originating 50 to 35 million years ago. The mountainous and hilly arch is characterized by soil containing basaltic and tuffaceous rocks, which are crossed by rivers, each giving rise to a valley: Illasi, Tramigna, Alpone, Chiampo, all directed towards northwest-southeast, following the fault lines present in the area.
Another important feature of the landscape that has a deep impact on the wine is the ecosystem. The presence of uncontaminated forests and valleys, meadows, cultivated fields, pollinating and predatory insects and indigenous microorganisms that live in symbiosis with specific local plants, has highlighted how the Lessini Mountains are endowed with an exceptional biodiversity. Furthermore, the presence of a natural reserve such as the Lessini Mountain Park proves that nature is a very important resource in the area, for all activities related to agriculture, encouraging producers present to adopt respectful and sustainable practices.
The Lessini Durello PDO
Recognized as a denomination in1987, the Lessini Durello PDO today is protected by the homonymous Consortium, established the following year. The hectares of vineyards registered in the PDO are around 400 and it puts together the work of 35 producers, for a total of more than 1.2 million bottles. The average altitude of the vineyards is about 300 meters, with peaks that can even exceed 500 meters: rugged and sharp hills, which often had to be terraced, with extreme slopes that give rise to a heroic viticulture, a work done entirely by hand.
The main grape variety in Lessini Durello is the Durella, a natural and strong grape, characterized by a resistant skin, averagely compact bunches, and highly apt for the production of sparkling wine. More than 90% of the production of Durella is turned into sparkling wine using the Charmat method (with pressurized autoclaves) or the ancient traditional method (manual, with refermentations on the lees in the bottle).
If the Lessini Durello Metodo Charmat is characterized by greater smoothness and a fresher and brighter aromatic profile, the Metodo Classico requires the wine to remain on the lees for at least 24 months, 36 if the wine wants to be classified as a “Riserva”. This latter label is the highest quality that can be reached by a volcanic terroir within the denomination, expressed by a well-structured wine, soft and sophisticated, with a nose that is always fresh, showing mineral notes that are perfectly balanced by a complex and fascinating bouquet.