I visted Bardolino a few weeks back. I was there for a preview tasting of Bardolino and Chiaretto, vintage 2013. I tasted about 120-140 wines, visted five wineries, saw the beauty of lake Garda and its surroundings and met some great people.
I must confess I didn’t know much about the wines of Bardolino and Custoza. I have of course tasted a few – but didn’t know much about the area, so this was a kind of a taste adventure and exploring trip for me.
When thinking back on this and other trips I’ve done I sometimes come to think of myself like a modern day viking (some say I do look the part as well), exploring the south of Europe and other wine regions in hunt for booty (wine). One of these days I think will head out for the Viking revisit tour of Europe #winlover edition – seeking out places we (the Vikings) plundered, ravaged and sacked during the Viking Age – as I come up to the town gate I’ll make a demand: Bring me your wines, your best wines…
Well perhaps not, but these wine travellings and the blogging about them is like a kind of exploring: …to boldly go where I haven’t been before, to explore strange new grapes and to network with new and old friends – and this is what #winelover is all about for me. To explore, to network and having fun whilst doing it!
Even though this was not a #winelover event and we didn’t do a hangout this trip had all these components. A region that was new for me, bloggers, journalists, producers that was, at least in part, new to me and of course the most in important thing: wines, lots of wine.
As Bardolino and Custoza is quite new to me it might be so for you as well, you might also have missed the evolution of their wines. Talking with people on this trip I learned that the wines have changed in a postive direction the last few years and there are several producers who do really good stuff showing the potential of the area.
After tasting the wines I do agree, the best wines are really good and interesting. They do show the potential of the area. The tasting also showed that there are a lot of quite ordinary wines, not bad but not fantastic either, that shows that there is still work to be done.
There are three main wines; Bardolino (red wine), Chiaretto Bardolino (rosé, still and spumante) and Custoza (white wine, still and spumante).
The red wines are cuvées, in general they are quite light and low in alcohol. They have lots of red fruit, some green herbs and lots of pepper and plenty of acids and minerallity. A comparison with Beaujolais is not bad if one looks to the style of the wines, but they do differ in taste – Bardolino generally have a warmer fruit more towards cherries, are a little more rustic and have different herbs than the Beaujolais wines.
The pink wines, the Chiarettos, goes from elegant wines, slightly aromatic, good acidity, subtle fruit with a touch of minerality to candy sweet ones. The best are the elegant wines and they have good potential, whilst the sweet are a bit to lemonade alike and as a style of rosé wines available everywhere in the world. The elegent style of Charetto is a style where the terrior and personality is showing, I would go these kind of wines instead of the candy flavoured ones.
The white wines have good fruit that tend to go toward the exotic fruits or yellow apple flavours, many have a really nice acidity, quite a lot of herbs, aromatic flavours and minerality. I like the style and the best shows the potential. We also got to taste a few ages ones that showed complexity and depth – really loved these ones.
The future of Bardolino and Custoza is a continued work on quality and personality. To keep on working on finding new and old ways to make interesting wines. The aged Custoza shows that the wines have ageing potential, today most wines are made to be had within one or two years. Another path into the future is the idea of modernizing Bardolino doc by identifying crus and doing different wines in a different ways, for exampel wines made on a single grape. We got to taste a few wines made on 100% corvina that were where splendid.
The area is a tourist area and much of the wines are made for the tourist market, which is not bad for local buissness. But these wines will probaly not catch new markets or attention of journalists or bloggers etc. For this there is a need for brands that draw attention to the area and in Bardolino and Custoza, luckly there are few that does!
At this time I would like to mention a few of them, a few that stands out with personal wines, with wines with quality, terrior and uniqueness. Wines made for #winelovers.
Le Fraghe makes some splendid wines, elegant, complex and charming filled with personality.
Silvio Piona is another really good winemaker, doing great reds and white wines which also proved to be good for storing.
Le Vinge di San Pietro does a variety of great stuff – personal, elegant, complex with lots of potential – whites as well reds and if you find his passito bianco – buy it (only about 2000 btl/year)!
Another interesting winemaker to keep an eye out for is Giovanna Tantini, she makes a sublime Chiaretto and a very good Bardolino.
So there are several good reasons to come to Bardolino, to buy and taste wines from Bardolino and Custoza.
If or when you go don’t miss the best little wine bar in the area: Enoteca Il Giardino delle Esperidi. This is the #winelover place to go to. They have lots of new and old wines to enjoy, from the area and other italian areas and from the rest of the world. A lovely bar, a great hostess and according to my friends also a great place to eat.
It will be very interesting to follow Bardolino into the future, to see where the future takes them. There is great potential and some wines are all ready very good, others are knocking on the #winelover door!
So until next time – salute!