When you think of Italian wine it’s not often we think of Venice. Sure Tuscany, and Barolos from Piedmont -- even Sicilian wines are often part of the conversation. But Venice?

Yep.  Count Brandino Brandolini is making an effort to get the word out. To make things more confusing, he would like you to associate Merlot with Northeast Italy.

That’s where his family has their historic estate. Vistorta has been in the Brandolini family since 1780 and is in northeast Italy’s Friuli region, just 25 miles north of Venice. The protective mountain ranges to the north and west combine with the moderating influence of the Adriatic Sea to create a superb microclimate for the cultivation of outstanding Merlot grapes

As owner and winemaker, Brandolini has done his family proud and created one of northeast Italy’s most sought-after red wines. Produced exclusively with grapes from 16 small plots with vines of various ages (up to 20-years old) and clones, Vistorta is unfiltered and aged in fine-grained French oak barrels with minimum toasting.

And while the vineyards make many other wines, he brought his Conte Brandolini Vistorta Merlot with him – and said it was his favorite – rare to get a winemaker to admit to a favorite wine.  While he’s not working the land on his family’s property, he’s back at home in Venice, running his wine bar Naranzaria, which is right on the on the Grand Canal.

Now that’s where we should all have our next glass of wine.

Cent’ Anni.