I admit it: the Bardolino appellation never particularly appealed to me. I’d heard of it, I knew it was in the whereabouts of Lake Garda, but in the course of sporadic and half-hearted tastings, I’d never encountered any memorable incarnation of the DOC. That is, not until I chanced on the Bardolino from this boutique winery in Castelnuovo del Garda: Poggio delle Grazie.
Here is a delectable little gem it’s all but impossible not to fall for from the very first sip. The winery was founded in 2014 and its vineyards are mostly within the municipality of Castelnuovo del Garda, with a smaller plot in Sommacampagna. Nestled among the vine rows is a little votive chapel built in 1947 as thanksgiving to Our Lady for having protected the family from the air raids of World War Two.
Today, the heart and mind of Poggio delle Grazie are Stefano and Massimo. After selling their grapes in bulk to other growers, the brothers took a brave step and chose to make wine under their own label and promote their territory. These foothills, after all, have always been extremely suited to winemaking, particularly whites based on the Cortese and Garganega varieties, though recent years have seen some new, interesting research in Bardolino winemaking.
The outcome of these experiments is encouraging – more than encouraging in the case of this Poggio delle Grazie Bardolino DOC, from a blend of 70% Corvina grapes and 30% Rondinella (these same varieties go into Amarone production, incidentally).
The vinification method is in part similar to the one employed for Amarone, with twofold selection of the grapes: one portion is picked and vinified straight away, another is left to dry for about a month, followed by brief cold maceration and subsequent, spontaneous fermentation.
The result is an utterly scrumptious wine whose main strengths lie in the freshness and focus of its red berry fruit that scintillates in the glass and grabs your attention in the bouquet, only to flare up on the palate with a hint of sweetness and perfect consistency with the nose.
This yummy red may be mellow yet is anything but cloying, sustained as it is by a lovely backbone of acidity and freshness right to the lively finish. An all-around food wine, Stefano & Massimo’s Bardolino is also a fine pairing with soups and spicy second courses reminiscent of Asian cuisine.
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