Raboso, the Piave's native son
Raboso is an ancient wine, produced from one of the rare vine varieties which grew in north-eastern Italy even before the time of the Roman Empire.
This is confirmed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia; he wrote that this area already produced Picina omnium nigerrima, a wine blacker than pitch and the ancestor not only of Raboso, but of Terrano, Refosco and Friularo. With the fall of the Roman empire, the cultureof winemaking, too, fell into oblivion. Only when Venice spread its civilisation to the mainland would the memory of this wine be kindled anew.
In 1679, Jacopo Agostinelli, from Treviso, wrote a book of thoughts entitled "Cento e dieci ricordi che formano il buon fattor di villa" (One Hundred and Ten Reminiscences to Make a Good Steward) and a few of those concern Raboso wine. "Here in our country," he wrote in reminiscence no. 24, "we make chiefly red wines for Venice from a red grape called recaldina, which some call rabosa for its strong character.” More information about Raboso wine were provided in more recent times by the Istituto Enologico Trevigiano and by Antonio Carpené who wrote about red Rabosa in 1881.
Carpené also wrote that, of the grapes he had experimented with for winemaking purposes, red Rabosa nera was perhaps the most important variety of eastern Veneto, especially because it was so widespread.
In the Bollettino Ampelografico of 1885, Raboso del Piave is specifically mentioned, and according to the Bulletin: “this type of wine has always been considered very important... We can remember when similar wines were sent abroad to great acclaim; until only a few years ago the cellars of rich Englishmen still contained bottles of this wine, which was procured and given to them by the last ambassadors to the Republic of Venice”.
The Republic of Venice came to an end in 1797 and just a few years prior to 1885 there were still bottles of Raboso del Piave to be found in English cellars. It is therefore reasonable to believe that Raboso had for many centuries been considered one of the chief and leading wines produced in the Treviso area.
Raboso in modern times
In 1937, Giovanni Dalmasso stated that out of the 65,000 hectolitres of red wine produced in Sinistra Piave, 58,000 were of Raboso Piave; and of the 85,000 hectolitres of wine made in the area around Motta di Livenza, San Donà di Piave and Meolo, 70,000 were Raboso Veronese.
Immediately after the Second World War, in 1949, Raboso was still the dominant wine of the area. In Sinistra Piave, Raboso Piave accounted for as much as 80% of the 100,000 hectolitres of wine made there, while the stretch of land between Motta and San Donà produced 85,000 hectolitres of Raboso Veronese out of a total of 140,000.
Between the 50s and 60s of the last century, wine-growers in the Piave zone favoured varieties that produced more marketable wines, especially - with regard to red wines - Merlot and Cabernet.
The cultivation of Raboso Piave gradually declined and it was only in the 1990s that it was restored to popularity and gradually developed thanks to the Confraternita del Raboso Piave (Confraternity of Raboso Piave) founded by a few brave wine producers.
Vine & wine
Raboso Piave is a native grape variety whose presence in the lands around the Piave is mentioned in XVII-century records. It has a full right to bear the name “Piave” for its historical origins and its constant presence, spanning the centuries, in the land bathed by the water of the river that is sacred to the heroes of the First World War.
Its traditional production zone stretches from the Piave river across the plain of Treviso, from Conegliano to Vazzola and on to Oderzo, Motta di Livenza and San Donà di Piave. It produces quite a large, tight, cylindrical bunch with one or two wings, which may be quite evident, and a sturdy, woody bunchstem. Its spheroid grape has a blue-black, tough skin with good bloom. Green-reddish pedicel.
The flesh has a varietal, neutral flavour which is slightly meaty and sweet-acidulous-astringent. Each grape has two or three average-sized, pear-shaped seeds. This very vigorous vine produces an abundant yield.
Optimal vinification requires appropriate maceration of juice and skins: this results in a full-bodied wine, acidic and tannic when young, ideal for laying down.
Left to age in wooden barrels, it will gradually acquire a beautiful deep ruby colour with garnet tinges, a wonderfully broad and full bouquet of wild violets with a concentrated note of morello cherry.
The palate is dry, attractively astringent, full-flavoured, faintly acidic, deeply satisfying.
At full maturity, Raboso Piave is one of the great Italian reds, excellent with furred and feathered game, red meat, grilled meats and well-matured cheeses. It is also a superb sipping wine, an ideal accompaniment to long winter evenings in the company of friends.
The Manzoni Moscato, the rare Manzoni Hybrid 13.0.25 taken from Raboso Piave
On the land along the Piave river, the most widely grown vine in the first half of this century was the Raboso Piave. Luigi Manzoni, a well-respected scientist and for many years Dean of the School of Viticulture and Oenology in Conegliano, turned his attention to this wine.
He wanted to create a new grape variety, capable of producing a softer, more agreeable wine, whilst preserving the characteristics of the original Raboso plant.
Of all his attempts, the hybrid named L.M.13.0.25 (it was the professor’s habit to name his new grape varieties simply by using his initials, followed by a series of numbers), seemed to be the best he had produced. It was planted in a plot adjacent to the Cantina Sociale di Tezze (Tezze Wine-making Cooperative), which was directed by the wine-making expert Giacomini who oversaw its development and started to produce the wine. This was reward enough for professor Manzoni, who considered his work complete.
However, some years later as the wine had not met with much success at the Cooperative, it was sold to Avellino Da Re, a trader who had fallen in love with it. He proceeded to give it the value it deserved and, fearing that the vineyard based in Tezze di Piave would be dug up, he created another one at his estate in Fontanelle. More recenly a wine growing specialist called Renzo Da Re had the idea of using an autoclave (sealed tanks used in the production of sparkling wines) allowing him to produce today’s sweet spumante.
It is a fine Rose wine, light ruby red in colour with violet reflections, a pleasant nutmeg bouquet and an agreeably sharp taste.
From "Civiltà della Vite e del Vino nel trevigiano e nel veneziano" by G. Rorato – Published by Acelum.
Manzoni Bianco, the exceptional Incrocio Manzoni 6.0.13
The Incrocio Manzoni 6.0.13 is the best known of Professor Manzoni’s “Incroci” (blends), one of the jewels of Piave wine production. This exceptional variety, native to the province – or Marca – di Treviso, is worthy of the highest accolades and comes from a Pinot Bianco fertilised with pollen from Riesling. It is incredibly adaptable to a wide variety of climates and soil-types but prefers stony land as well as hillside areas making it ideal for the lands around the river Piave and the hills in the province. It buds early and flowers, reaches veraison and matures fairly early as well. It is averagely vigorous and has a relatively contained production. It produces small, fairly tight bunches with a wing, average to small rounded berries, a thick skin and juicy pulp. This variety is increasingly widespread across the province of Treviso and is still grown across the whole of Italy today. Pure fermented Manzoni Bianco is a truly great wine which will meet with the approval of even the sternest critics, a prestige wine which has become a flagship of the wines from the Marca Trevigiana. It combines all the best characteristics of Pinot Bianco with the aromatic nuances of Riesling. Like father like son.
This wine has good body, is splendidly well-balanced with a straw yellow colour and an extremely fine, noble and flowery bouquet.
[Taken from "Civiltà della Vite e del Vino nel trevigiano e nel veneziano" by G. Rorato - Ed. Acelum and from “Storia e Vini” by I. Cescon - www.cesconitalo.it]
Marzemina Bianca, a unique, rare and ancient variety
The Marzemina Bianca, (White Marzemina) grape variety has been cultivated for centuries and was defined in 1793 by Caronelli, President of the agrarian academy of the then aspiring Conegliano, as “the queenof all grapes, as precious for us as Columella’s Aminea”. However, despite its age, not a lot is known about this variety. Probably of French origin from the Bourgogne area, it was also grown in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. More recently it has been classed as a “Chasselas Dorato”.
It was grown in large quantities in the Province of Treviso but was also found in the Euganei hills around Padua and other wine growing areas in the Veneto.
It has been called “Sciampagna” (an Italian spelling of “Champagne”) as, once bottled, the wine becomes sparkling and fragrant. For this reason, in the area surrounding Breganza, the wine is still filtered through Torcolato pomace giving it increased body and fragrance. Over the last 20 or 30 years Marzemina Bianca has once again started to be grown in the Provinces of Treviso and Venice. The wine has been enrolled in the National Register of Varieties and Vines and has been given provisional authorisation to be grown in the Provinces of Padua, Treviso, Venice and Vicenza.
The wine has a pale yellow colour with a fine, fruity and intense bouquet; the flavour is pleasant with a slightly bitter, sparkling aftertaste.
In the wine-making process Marzemina is used in uvaggi (blends) with other white grape varieties such as Prosecco, Verdiso and Vespaiola. It is often over-ripened on the vine as it is well suited to the making of sweet wines..
From “I Vini nelle Città Italiane – Primo Volume: Venezia” by Iris Fontanari Martinetti – Published by Proposta Vini.