Since taking over management of his family's winery in the Soave district of northeast Italy's Veneto region two decades ago, Anselmi has been motivated by an emotional and professional commitment to tapping the unrealized potential of the wines he grew up with. This has entailed a significant parting of ways with traditional vineyard and winemaking practices that have historically characterized the Soave district, and given birth to a new generation of north Italian white wines of unprecedented quality, character and finesse.
Roberto Anselmi's long-term goals have required the kind of investment and self-assurance that would pass for folly in men of lesser vision. In his drive to upgrade quality, Anselmi reduced output at the very same time that other producers, capitalizing on a white wine boom, were increasing theirs. Limiting production, however, has enabled Anselmi to be more selective in the vineyards, cutting yields and discarding all but the finest fruit to achieve an intensity of flavor, fruit and bouquet rarely, if ever, encountered in the wines of Soave. Anselmi took this limited-production approach to the next level when he became virtually the only producer in the Soave Classico zone to develop "cru" or single-vineyard wines, notably with the release of the highly acclaimed Anselmi Capitel Foscarino.
Other major initiatives undertaken by Anselmi have included the purchase of hilltop vineyard plots, conversion of vineyard trellising from the customary pergola system to densely-planted horizontal spurred cordons, resulting in major reductions in yields, scrupulous clonal selection, reduction of irrigation to an absolute minimum and the pioneering use of small new and semi-new oak barrels in the vinification process, generating wines of singular structure and complexity.
Then in 2000, Anselmi made headlines with a personal declaration of independence, choosing to label his wines Veneto IGT rather than continuing to work within the confines of the Soave DOC. It was a bold maneuver, taken to protect his unmitigated authority over winemaking practices, and it was a decisive statement from one who many in the international wine industry regard as "the conscience of Soave." Latest initiatives include construction of a new 50,000 square foot winery, collaborative research into alternative wine closures and ongoing experimentation into new methods for reducing the presence of sulfites in wine.
In recent years, he has been joined at Anselmi by his daughter, Lisa, a business school graduate who assists with marketing, administration and customer relations. A son, Tommaso, also looks set to join his father in the years that come. View all Anselmi Wines
About VenetoView a map of Veneto wineries (vey-NEH-toe)
Notable FactsThe wine of Soave is most common white wine made here. Occasionally you can find an exceptional Soave, but for the most part the wine is easy-drinking and refreshingly pleasant. For the reds, the most popular are Amarone and Valpolicella – both made primarily from the good structured Corvina grape. While Amarone is always made in the recioto method (drying out the grapes to intensify the flavor), Valpolicella has a few different levels. Amarone is made from very ripe grapes, which are then dried and then pressed, producing an opulent, concentrated, full-bodied wine that has a distinctive and powerful taste that stays with you. Not for the lighter fare meal, this wine is almost port-like and delicious with cheese and/or dessert. Valpolicella can also be made in the recioto method, but it's more often found in a dry style – the wine goes up in rank, from Valpolicella to Valpolicella Classico to Valpolicella Classico Superiore. And finally, the bubbly of Veneto – Prosecco. Made from the same-named grape, Prosecco is less fizzy than Champagne and occasionally has a slight sweetness. It's absolutely delicious as a value aperitif.
A little ditty about Italy...This country has about as many wines as its had governments. With 20 different regions, hundreds of DOCs and even more indigenous varieties, the amount of wine made in Italy is mind-boggling. Most of the juice, however, remains in the country for thirsty Italians. Wine is food in Italy and its rare that a meal is consumed without a glass of vino. That said, it's not common to find many folks drinking wine without food either. In turn, it's a match, and a mighty good one at that. In fact, it's safe to say that Italian wine is a foodie wine – one that goes on the table for a myraid of meals.
For regions, the most popular are Tuscany (home of Chianti), Piedmont and the Tre-Venezie, which includes Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige and Friuli. Other communes of note are in Southern Italy, and a few good wines are made elsewhere in the country. The islands of Sardinia and Sicily are members of the Italian winemaking community as well.