Verona Wine and Oil Top: how choosing the best wines and olive oil from Verona province

Giambattista Ugolini, owner of Tenute Ugolini, proudly shows his prizes.

Every year, the Chamber of Commerce in Verona organizes a wine competition reserved exclusively for wines produced in the province of the city. The criteria are those of any wine competition (like Vinitaly's one), so no surprise from this side. The news is that this year also an olive oil competition has been organized, so  you can get a guide to the best labels of this product as well. The award ceremony has been hosted in Dogana Veneta, Lazise (Lake of Garda).

Some data: Verona is first in Italy for wine export, with a share of 13% in the national total. Last year the export value  exceeded 882 millions Euros (+1.5% on 2013). And the wine represents 9.3% of total exports from Verona, which are also growing in the first quarter of this year by 1%. And 90% of the wine produced belongs to some denomination of origin (DOC or DOCG) or some indication of protected origin (IGP).

As for the olive oil, there are many cultivars, and two protected designations of origin (PDO): the Garda DOP and the Veneto Valpolicella DOP, the result of 2900  hectares producing 410 tons of olives. Half of the olive oil production in Verona is located in some foreign countries, in Europe or USA.

What are the winners of those competitions? 99 wines and 33 extravirgin olive oils: the list is available on the official website

What's interesting in this local wine competition, (held 12 years ago for  the first time)? Two things, IMHO*.

1)  For many small and new wine producers it represents the first approach to a wider audience. For almost all of them, the Verona Wine Top is the very first wine competition  - the very first time when they face the judgement of technicians and wine critics, so it's an educational experience for everybody, by the way. In this last edition, I discovered some new wineries in Valpolicella I didn't know yet, and I have to say that their wines are pretty good. It's likely that in the next future we'll hear speaking about them.

2) Despite the fresh, basic Valpolicella is currently not so trendy, the wine producers who trust in it are growing; so, if you want to get a really good Valpolicella, forget the usual big brands and look for some new and unknown small producer   (although you have to come in Valpolicella to find him...)

Anyway, the award winning wines and oils will be promoted in Italy and abroad in the next months, up to the next competitions in 2016. The guide with a presentation of wines and oils is curated by the  journalist Stefania Vinciguerra, Wine Doctor's editor, and will be distributed in the circuit of quality Italian restaurants selected by Unioncamere (1750 restaurants in 55 countries).

*disclaimer: I was a judge in that competition.