Bianchetta: one of the Veneto’s long-lost treasures, now revived
Many years ago, the vines of the Asolo hills were carpeted by a wide range of grape varieties, from Bianchetta, Perera, and Rabbiosa, to Marzemina Bianca, Garganega, and Malvasia.
The biodiversity at that time was fabulous and it championed the tastes and aromas of the wines produced then.
Unfortunately, in recent years, this trend has been reversed, as growers continue to plant or graft two clones of Glera in their vineyards (ISV 10 and ISV 19).
We’ve decided instead to take a step backward and re-introduce these varieties in our vineyards. They are less productive but we are convinced that they will give a distinct, unequivocal character to our wines.
As I was pruning our newly purchased vineyard in the village of Monfumo, I realized that I really don’t know a lot about Bianchetta. And so I began to do some research. I was really pleased with what I found.
grape grower and winemaker
A white grape variety, grown most commonly in eastern Veneto and to a lesser extent in Trentino-Alto Adige.
A wine made from well ripened “Bianchetta Gentile” was cited by Giacomo Agostinetti di Cimadolmo in 1679 and it was praised as the best white wine produced in Treviso province at the time.
Unfortunately, its popularity waned at the beginning of the next century, in part due to the terrible freeze of 1709 and the subsequent agricultural crisis. In the wake of this calamity, the best but most delicate grape varieties, like Bianchetta, were not replanted, as growers favored early-ripening and more fertile varieties that would help to recoup the lost crops.
It was only during the first meeting of the Accademia di Agricoltura di Conegliano (Conegliano Agricultural Academy) in 1772 that Bianchetta was once again favored by growers (see Veneto, by Calò, Paronetto, and Rorato, Unione Italiana Vini, 1996).
At the time, [Italian agronomist] Pietro Caronelli complained about the negative effects caused by the massive substitution of the grape variety with more fertile but lower quality varieties, like Dall’Occhio and Verdisa.
[Ampelographer] Francesco Maria Malvolti championed the grape’s virtues and noted that its quality would emerge when vinified with the right techniques, practices that were not common at the time.
Reverend Antonio del Giudice also praised Bianchetta as one of the best wine grapes at the time, noting the consistency of results in production.