Wednesday, 22 May 2013

€ 95 Dorona (50cl)

Dorona, Dorona. Get your Dorona here. Only  € 95 for a 50cl bottle!

Well, there are only a very few things you can do when you have an obscure or new grape variety grape variety on your hands.

1. Write its name on a piece of paper and put it in a drawer.

2. Tell 'Wine Grapes' and hope to win a free bottle of wine.

3. Patent it (cf. 'Cygne', the white version of Cabernet Sauvignon found in Australia).

4. Make wine from it and charge € 3 a 75 cl. bottle (cf. Hermanos Lopez Martin Tinta Rome, Archez)

5. Make wine from it and charge € 95 for a 50 cl. bottle (cf Ristorante Venissa, Mazzorbo, Venezia).

No. 5 is what the good folks from the Venissa Restaurant on the Venetian island of Mazzorbo decided to do when they discovered Dorona - an ancient grape used in mediaeval times to make the wine of the Doges and others. You can imagine the reaction of the modern Veneziani. Utter dismissal combined with the statement that Dorona was only Garganega anyway.

Not true according to 'Wine Grapes'. So there we are. The Restaurant Venissa has been built around a vineyard in which this recovered grape has been newly planted. A limited amount of wine is made but even so it is surprising there are enough Russian Oligarchs to drink it.

We decided to take a trip to Mazzorbo and take a look at the vineyard. This is easy to do. Mazzorbo is just the next stop after Murano. Vaporetti go there every 20 minutes.

Like many of the smaller islands of the lagoon, Mazzorbo is very quiet and barely inhabited. It is not especially beautiful being flat and without any distinguishing features but it was a nice idea to build a posh restaurant there in addition to one other which is less posh but inviting. Venissa's season hadn't started but no one seemed to mind us walking around the vineyard or property.

At the entrance to the vineyard is a billboard with information about Dorona and the story behind its revival.

We entered the bar area where some people were preparing an out of season event for some group. We were shown bottles of Dorona. Even in season the wine isn't available by the glass. The only alternative to the 50cl bottle is the 150cl bottle at a price we didn't even register. We even forgot to take a photo of the bottles, probably in fear of being charged.

Walking out to the vineyard, we could see it is beautifully kept and good practises are used with wild flowers, herbs and grasses grown between the immaculate rows.

A canal with presumably rather saline water runs through it. Together with a small Kitchen Garden, it makes a pleasant view from the restaurant's terrace and galleria areas.

Dorona is reputedly rather aromatic and interesting but with hundreds more obscure grape varieties costing rather less, we will not miss finding out for ourselves too much unless this business model proves an out and out winner and suddenly everyone does the same.

The bottle has an original label by the way. It is just a square patch of gold - gold leaf, probably.

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