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Bardolino

Always Something New To Learn

 There are times when not knowing everything about the world of wine can make discovery one of the most beautiful things. For me, this was the case with the wines of Bardolino. I knew that they made wines near to Lake Garda, and I seem to remember that I might have tried a sip once on a holiday in the area, but beyond that, I was in ignorance, and as with all enjoyable things that one comes across, you curse that you hadn't found it sooner.

 It was an invitation to a talk by Angelo Peretti that first raised my interest. He's the Director of the Consortia Chiaretto and Bardolino, and a man whose enthusiasm jumps out of the screen at the 'Zoom Call' I attend. By the end of which, I promise myself that he's a man I'd really like to interview in person.

 Accompanying his talk are a selection of Bardolino wines that I decide will be better suited left for a tasting after taking on board the information and history of this fascinating region. I'll review that wines at the bottom of this article, but first let's get some of the facts out to you.

 In 1825 three areas were identified within the Bardolino winemaking region that borders Lake Garda. These were La Rocca, Montebaldo and Sommacampagna.

 Since this time the wines have grown in reputation and in 2015 the Bardolino Cru project was born. The first wines to come from these three redicovered Crus were officially produced in 2020, and the new regulations were approved by the Italian Government in April 2021.

 La Rocca is the closest district to the shores of Lake Garda. Wines from here are typically complex bouquets of raspberry and cinnamon.

 From Montebldo, the northern most and highest point, the wines have an elegance that leads them towards a profile of strawberry and clove.

 In Sommacampagne, the most southerly (and warmest) there develops flavours and scents of black pepper and cherry.

 Bardolino is an uncomplicated fresh and fruity dry red wine with a ruby red color that is produced around a city of the same name. The most important grapes used for this wine are Corvina (35-65%) and Rondinella (10-40%) and it is also allowed to add up to 20% mixed from Molinara, Rossignol, Barbera, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes but not more then 10% per specific grape. It is also allowed to replace up to 10% of Corvina with the same amount of the Corvinone grape.

 The lightness of Bardolino wine reflects its origins. Chalky, rocky, morainic soil lends this red wine minerality. The varied Lake Garda climate, with its fresh winds and warm sunshine, provides the perfect conditions for the ripening process of the grapes.

This northern Italian wine is produced in the quality categories DOC and DOCG. The Bardolino DOC wine – grown, vinified and bottled in the central region between Bardolino, Lazise, Affi, Garda, Costermano and Cavaion – may also bear the designation Bardolino classic.

 Especially interesting Bardolino vintages were the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Aside from their low-yield harvests, the quality of these Bardolino wines, especially the 2014 wines, received very high ratings. According to the wine guide 'Gambero Rosso', the best Bardolino wine of 2014 came from the Le Vigne di San Pietro winery in Sommacampagna, on the southeast edge of the DOC and was awarded a rating of 'three glasses'. A good Bardolino red wine, however, has no need for an award: The finesse of this fine wine simply speaks for itself.

Sommacampagna Bardolino 2020 Mont del Frà

 

 The nose of this wine produces wonderfully cherry notes that come out to play with hints of black spice. It's a light unassuming wine that wants you to come out and play. 

 Firstly, take a slight sip and you'll get black cherry, plums, hint of black pepper, little woody and a slightly tar effect. It might sound as though it's suddenly become super heavy, but it's just not going there.

4.5 out of 7

Montebaldo Bardolino Eocene 2020 Bigagnoli​

 

 I'm getting a snout filled with light red fruit, strawberries, red cherries and an almost Pinot edge. Though I'm assured that this wine is robust, it feels intriguingly delicate in the mouth.

 Fill you mouth and welcome candied red fruit that like a curtain, hints at darker tastes in the background. These never arrive to overwhelm and I'm enjoying this more than I should.

5 out of 7

Montebaldo Bardolino Morlongo Anniversario 50 Vendemmie 2020 Vigneti Villabella

 

 When one comes across a wine discovery like this, it's all you can do to stop a beaming smile resting on your visage. Wines, like this, are what make wine such a sociable drink.

 It's like a redcurrant pie that is layered with tons of red fruit that bursting to tell you its story. It almost reminds me of the sticky glaze you put over a strawberry shortcake. You know, the part that makes you feel slightly guilty.

 In the mouth, it all continues nicely and the bundles of red fruit just grow and provide relaxing moments of satisfaction. 

 

5 out of 7

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Montebaldo Bardolino Brol Grande 2020 Le Fraghe

 

 The colour is a delicate purple that hints at garnet developing in the future.

 The nose is proving a little difficult to work and this baby doesn't want to give up its secrets too easily. Finally there's a little grass and vapours of pungent squashed red fruit, but nothing to demonstrative.

 It's a little too cold in the mouth and the blackcurrant mixes difficultly with stalks and terroir.

 It was all going so well until this. I'm not saying that this is bad, it's just disappointing. 

 

3.5 out of 7

La Rocca Bardolino 2020 Poggio della Grazie

 

 As I sample this wine it feels as if normality is being resumed a little as the wine behaves in just the way I want it to.

 There is a bag of strawberries, raspberries and cream, and a satisfying dose of menthol.

 This wine is also a little cold (my fault I think) but the dark/red fruit is so pronounced that nothing is going to stop it from coming through well. There is a prominence of blackcurrant, liquorice, candy. That doesn't mean that the beautifully viscous tastes in your mouth aren't forgotten.

 

4.5 out of 7

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La Rocca Bardolino Soracuna 2021 Villa Calicantus

 

 There are days when you just can't complain about being a wine writer, and tasting this is one of those days.

 The first thing that introduces itself is a Chantilly cream scent that covers green foliage and stalks. Then waiting to pounce is a red plums, red sweet peppers.

 Take your time and ponder the oodles of juicy red fruit and tomato plant that come along to the dance. It's the last and I'm quite sad.

 

6 out of 7

 I feel that the wines of Bardolino sum up one of the great things about wine writing. They are not massively bold, or costly bottles that can make you ashamed to drink them. These are honest wines that display the welcoming side of drinks with friends, memories made amid fresh wines that don't overwhelm but add a logic and simplicity to the occasion.

 When they arrived, I knew hardly anything about them, but after tasting them for this article they will be on my list of wines that I want to seek out and learn more about. I'm going to Italy this summer and perhaps if I'm lucky, I might be getting better acquainted with these wines.

 This is one tasting that I really want you to get off your backsides and go find out for yourselves!

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