Grechetto and Groppello grapes), I sought to introduce you to Paul Turina and the wines that he imports. Today's post is on another interesting grape that Paul brought to my attention called Vespaiola. I had not heard of Vespaiola prior to Paul's email and certainly hadn't come across any in my local shops so I was grateful to him for the opportunity to try the grape. He and his client (Villa Angarano) call the grape Vespaiolo, which is an accepted synonym, but the official name for the grape does appear to be Vespaiola. Those of you who are into European modes of transportation may notice a similarity between this grape's name and a certain Italian scooter brand. Both names are based on the Latin word vespa which means wasp. The scooter is so named because of the buzzing sound the engine makes while the grape is so named because the grapes are naturally very high in sugar and wasps are attracted to them when they are fully ripe (for photographic evidence, check out this picture from the Wikipedia page). Those of you who are really up on your obscure Italian grapes may also note that the name Vespaiola is very similar to the name Vespolina, a red grape found in the Piedmont region of Italy. The two grapes are unrelated and the source of the name Vespolina is unknown, but it is not thought to be derived from any kind of a relationship with wasps.
Vespaiola is thought to be native to the Veneto region and there are references to it in publications dating back at least to 1825. It it grown in a few areas in the Veneto (covering about 432 hectares of land in total) but its most important area of cultivation is undoubtedly the Breganze region in the foothills of the Alps. Breganze has the unfortunate distinction of being the place where phylloxera was first discovered in Italy in the late 19th Century. The scourge decimated the vineyards of the area and many producers opted to plant many of the so-called "international varieties" like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernets rather than the native grapes that were popular prior to the outbreak. Luckily there were a few who hung on to some of the traditional grapes and continued to cultivate them and we have them to thank for the existence of Vespaiola today.
The DOC regulations for Breganze stipulate that any blended white wine from the region must contain at least 85% Friulano and up to 15% of Vespaiola, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. All other DOC white table wines from Breganze must be pure varietal wines and these varietal wines must meet more stringent yield requirements and minimum alcohol levels. Most Breganze wines are dry table wines, but the DOC also allows for the production of sweet wines either from partially dried grapes or grapes affected by botrytis. These sweet wines are called Torcolato and in his Grapes and Wines Oz Clarke offers the opinion that Torcolato is "one of Italy's finest sweet wines." Torcolato is made primarily from Vespaiola grapes but there is often some Garganega and Friulano in there as well (this picture shows how the grapes are hung for the passito style wines).
website and maybe send him an email to see how you may be able to help him make this wine available in your area.
These wines were given to me as samples from Paul himself. I have not been compensated in any way for writing about these wines other than with the bottles themselves. I do not have any business affiliation with Paul Turina, Turina Italian Wines or any of their associates.