Veneto's Best-Kept Secret: Tai Rosso (aka Grenache)
2018 Cavazza 'Corallo' Tai Rosso
Perhaps best known on the world stage for its contribution to the great wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Southern Rhône, Grenache is a hardy grape that can flourish in almost any warm, dry climate. It was one of the first grapes introduced to Australia, initially used in making fortified wines. 'Garnacha' also thrives throughout Spain as one of its flagship varietals. Its ties to Sardinia run particularly deep, where it is revered as the island's signature red and known as ‘Cannonau’. The small quantity imbibed by locals daily is often credited with contributing to the area’s ‘Blue Zone’ status, boasting one of the highest ratios of centenarians anywhere in the world.
In the tiny DOC of Colli Berici in the Veneto, Grenache takes on its own unique identity. Formerly known as 'Tocai Rosso', the local incarnation was renamed in 2007 to avoid any confusion after Hungary claimed ownership of the name 'Tokaji' as a geographical indication (even though the wines are nothing alike). Winemakers in the Veneto since dubbed it 'Tai Rosso', to reference the old name, while still setting it apart from other Italian Grenache, such as Sardinian Cannonau or the Vernaccia Nera found in Tuscany and Le Marche.
Less than 10% of the vines in Colli Berici are planted with Tai Rosso, meaning the annual output is miniscule – under half a million bottles a year for the entire region. The soil composition here (a combination of white limestone and marine fossils over rich, red clay Terra Rossa) provides its own unique mouthfeel and taste, with higher minerality and acidity, less sugar and a paler colour.
Sustainably-grown fruit for the 'Corallo' is hand-picked and hand-selected from Cavazza's Cicogna Estate before undergoing fermentation in stainless steel and maturation in third use French oak barrels. A slightly lighter expression of Grenache with no obvious oak influence, this is an ideal summer red and a highly versatile wine for food pairings.
Awarded two glasses by Gambero Rosso, denoting very good to excellent in its category, the 'Corallo' is brilliant ruby red in colour, with wild rose and raspberry on the nose. The palate is smooth, harmonious and full flavoured with fine tannins lending texture. An ideal complement to pasta, risotto, grilled red meat or casseroles with red or white meat.
Today, we are matching it with Executive Chef Nino Zoccali’s spit-roasted Vicenza guinea fowl with pomegranate and wild herb misticanza salad, from his second cookbook, Venetian Republic.