Cantina Colli Euganei
Just look at Colli Euganei. How on earth do you pronounce it?
The Colli part is all right, it’s Italian for hills, but Euganei seems impossible. Possibly, no, probably, there is no wine region in the world that so literally stands out as the Euganeian hills, near Padua. Now a naturale reserve, this relatively small area of volcanic origin rises from the Veneto plains with such startling suddenness that it looks like an island in the sea. Standing on those hills, it feels amazingly like an island as well. ‘Pan di zucchero’ (sugar rolls), it is without any respect that the locals call them.
It is precisely because of this elevation that the quality of Euganeian wine compares so favourably with those of the plains, where so many wines are rather … plain. Not that the hills are so impressively high rising: the summit is the Venda, with a moderate 601 metres, whereas most hardly reach a 100 metres above the surrounding plains. Nevertheless, these slopes are as attractive to the vine as they are to man.
Proof of the latter are the centuries old summer resorts of the Doges, the former rulers of Venice. Proof of both is found in the fact that one of Italy’s most famous poets, Petrarch, chose to spend his last years here, cultivating his own vineyard.
Founded in 1949, today’s leading producer, Cantina Colli Euganei, has been enjoying an ever growing success, not least with the grape varieties Cabernet and Merlot that were widely planted after the phylloxera plague destroyed most of Europe’s vines.
This success is based mainly on two pillars: sound winemaking and courage.
The fact that the winemaking is sound becomes clear both by tasting the wine and by observing the man who makes it, oenologist Alessio Equisetto. The courage consists in daring to be who you are, not to try to make someoneelse’swine.Tomakeyourwineasit ‘naturally wants’ to be made, not to push it. No doubt that is why this Colli Euganei wine drinks with such fabulous ease. It is as straightforward as it is youthful.
The astronomer Galileo Galilei came to these hills to observe the sky at night (la notte), the local wine ever at hand. This inspired Cantina Colli Euganei to create a heavenly wine at a down-to-earth price, Notte di Galileo. Nowadays, Cantina Colli Euganei presents different levels in its labels: while Notte di Galileo is its top, with the Rialto and Palazzo del Principe ranking only just below it, Patavinum and Paoni, present their base – but always good quality! – labels. As far as their fine range of frizzante and spumante wines is concerned, special attention should be drawn to the often awarded Fior d’Arancio.