If you had been taking a walk in the Venetian lagoon in AD 400, besides needing heavy-duty gumboots, you would have come across a somewhat melancholy landscape. Ducks, swamp reeds, rats the size of small dogs, the occasional fisherman's boat sailing through the mist and a few distraught human beings, desperately trying to escape the barbaric invasions which were tormenting the mainland.
A couple centuries later, the first Doge (venetian for 'Duke') was elected. Il Doge was the head of a state, the Most Serene Republic, that would have lasted for eleven centuries. Venice grew from a small city-state, became independent from Constantinople, and by late medieval time was the capital of a maritime empire which spread throughout modern Italy all the way to Cyprus. The remarkable power and richness of the Venetian State originated from the unstoppable supremacy of its navy, but most importantly from commerce. At the turn of the first millennium, Venetian merchants were already present in all of the east Mediterranean, where for centuries the only competitors were the arch-rival collegues from Genoa.
Many were the goods traded on Venetian ships; and since the beginning, one of the most popular was wine. The Veneto region, which spreads from the lagoon to the astonishing Lake Garda, was already a renowned producer back in Roman times; the grape varieties, subregions and production methods are well documented throughout the centuries. Cassiodorus, arguably the first sommelier in history, enthusiastically describes wines such as Soave and Valpolicella in a polished and sophisticated latin, back in 516 AD. The popularity of Venetian wine spread around the old world: even the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Venice's nemesis for four hundred years, would not dine without a glass of Venetian red.
The Doge became of of the most prominent sovereigns in Europe: chosen amongst the elite of the aristocracy for his wisdom, experience and morality, he embodied the nobility of the State and acted as a guiding light to the Council, the institutions and the people. He was the symbol of a nation that was also well-known for the quality of its art, culture and products.
That is why Cangrande Italian Wines, which has been importing and distributing into New Zealand an extremely quality-oriented portfolio of Italian wines, craft beers and spirits, decided to name its shop after Il Doge. There's no better guarantee of elegance, regality and class than the very leader of the Venetian State, as you will find out as soon as you try a glass of our wines.