Above: The Bisol family is growing Dorona, a clone of Garganega, on the island of Mazzorbo, adjacent to the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon.
When Matteo Bisol passed through Austin the other day (and graciously posed and uttered grape and appellation names for my camera), he brought news of his family’s newest project: Venissa a cloistered vineyard and high-concept restaurant and agriturismo on the island of Mazzorbo in the Venetian lagoon (above).
For a few years now, the family has been growing Dorona, a clone of Garganega, a grape traditionally and historically cultivated in the Venetian lagoon for the production of urban — and in this case, lagoonal — wine (if you’re wondering how to pronounce the ampelonym Garganega, btw, you’ll find the pronunciation here).
Above: I wrote to Matteo’s publicist, who was kind enough to share this photo of Dorona. The ampelonym probably refers to the golden color of the berries.
Being a consummate Venetophile, I am entirely geeked to taste the wine (which will be released for the first time next year) but in the meantime I would like to make a clarification regarding the name of the estate and the project, Venissa.
Venissa is not an ancient name of Venice or the Venetian lagoon, as many complacent readers of press releases have erroneously claimed.
In fact, Venissa is an erudite paronomasia from one of the greatest works of dialectal poetry by one of the greatest poets of our lifetime, Andrea Zanzotto (from Pieve di Soligo, one of my favorite places on earth).
Above: The Veneto poet Andrea Zanzotto. Photo via Engeler.
It’s actually the name of a mythical figure from antiquity, a fictional daughter of the Roman emperor Claudius.
The name appears in Zanotto’s poem in Veneto dialect, “Filò,” composed for Fellini’s 1976 Casanova.
It is the second name in the triad aàh Venezia aàh Venissa aàh Venùsia, where Venice (Venezia) is likened to a temptress or evil woman:
- Eyes of a snake, eyes of a queen,
head of fire that inflames the ice,
we beg you: burst loose, break free,
we implore you, everything implores you;
show yourself above, rise up,
let’s all pull together, you and us
ah Venice ah Venissa ah Venùsia
Venùsia is the ancient name of modern-day Venosa, a city supposedly so-called because it was dedicated to Venus by its founder Diomedes.
(Here’s a link to a preview of the excellent translation of Filò, where the lines appear in the Veneto, Italian, and English. And here’s a link to some background on this work and its significance in the canon of dialectal poetry.)
With these lines, the poet partly alludes to Venice’s place in history as Western Civilization’s capital of prostitution.
I could go on and on (aàh Venissa, if only my professional life were devoted to poetry instead of wine!). But I’ll close this post and clarification with a wonderful passage that I found in a nineteenth century dictionary of Veneto dialect, in the entry for the word filò, which denotes an all-night gathering of women who stitch and sew as they gossip.
- Queste le xe cosse da contàr al filò!
These are things [only suited] to be told at a sewing vigil!