Garganega is the staple ingredient of Soave but is also responsible for large quantities of undistinguished white wine. When sited in the best microclimates and cultivated to restrict yield, Garganega can produce an elegant, delicate wine with balance and structure. It is also produced in a recioto version, where the finest bunches are dried on mats until winter, then slowly fermented to yield a sweet dessert wine that can age for decades.
Garganega is a late ripening and extremely vigorous vine. The loosely knit clusters are long and support thick skinned, juicy berries of moderate acidity that are medium in size and pale white-green in color.
An ancient vine that is nearly identical to Sicily’s Grecanico, Garganega is thought to be of early Greek origin. It has been established in northeast Italy for centuries and is widely planted throughout the Veneto. It is cultivated to a lesser extent in Friuli, Lombardy and Umbria.