Garganega is one of Italy’s most widely planted light-skinned varieties. It’s the pre-eminent white grape of the Veneto region, dominating the uvaggio, or blend, of the Gambellara and Soave DOCs (as well as the Soave Superiore DOCG). There, it can be blended with the local Trebbiano di Soave, its poorer namesake Trebbiano Toscano (although not in the DOCG wines), Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay.
As a late-ripening variety, Garganega is particularly suited to making appassimento wines – the luscious, sweet wines made from dried, late-harvest grapes. In Soave, these wines have a separate DOCG, Recioto di Soave.
In a similar way to Chardonnay, Garganega can reflect the environment and the manner in which it is grown. In cooler sites it exhibits flinty, apple-like characteristics reminiscent of Chablis as well as good structure derived from its well-defined acidity. Warmer sites produce wines with a delicate expression, with citrus and stone-fruit flavours. However, all of these characteristics can be easily diluted if the vines are allowed to follow their natural inclination to yield heavily.
When made in an appassimento style, Garganega wines are richly textured, with honey, tropical fruits and exotic spices combined with a backbone of citrus.
In addition to the aforementioned appellations, Garganega is present in a multitude of other DOCs in the Veneto: Arcole, Bianco di Custoza, Colli Berici, Monti Lessini and Vicenza all permit the use of Garganega. It can also be found in neighbouring Friuli and in the Lombardian DOCs around Lake Garda.
Further south in Umbria, the hills of Colli Amerini and Colli Perugini are home to some Garganega vines whose grapes are used as a minor blending ingredient for dry white and sparkling (spumante) wines. Supposedly the Sicilian variety Grecanico is the same as Garganega.
Synonyms include: Decanico, Dorana di Venetia, Grecanico, Lizzara, Oro, Ostesona.
Related blends: Soave Blend.
Food matches include:
Europe: Fried zucchini (zucchine fritte) (dry); almond bread pudding (sweet)
Asia: Steamed scallops (dry); sticky rice with mango (sweet)
Americas: Ground corn paste (humita) filled with goats’ cheese (dry)