As Michaela Morris so deftly explained last year, Bardolino has undergone important changes in the last few years. In an effort to not be left behind by competitors – not just in Veneto, or Italy, but elsewhere around the world – the Consorzio has worked with producers to update the style of the rosé wines (known as Chiaretto) and implement three historical crus for the reds.
The red Bardolino DOC has assumed three crus based on historical subzones. These crus of La Rocca, Montebaldo and Sommacampagna were originally identified at the end of the 19th century, however, it is only very recently that these have become officially recognised. In the new regulations, these crus are subject to lower yields with longer maturation and must be approved in a blind tasting by a panel of judges.
Meanwhile, after several years of behind-the-scenes work between the Consorzio and consultant Angelo Peretti, the Chiaretto rosés of Bardolino began transitioning from the traditional dark pink style – a by-product of red wine production where a portion of juice was run off to increase the skin/must ratio – to much paler, salmon-pink wines.
This is more than just a change in aesthetic: Chiaretto is a separate DOC as of the 2018 vintage, and the quality of the wine clearly benefits from grapes being grown, harvested and fermented with Chiaretto in mind. The reduction in skin contact helps to bring more elegance and aromatics, as well as the paler colour, and the result is a new style that – whether producers like it or not – can be compared with those from Provence. If you like that light, slightly spicy style, then Chiaretto is certainly worth a try.
The Bardolino subzones:
Covering the villages of Bussolengo, Pastrengo, Sommacampagna, Sona and Valeggio, this cru is situated in the southeast part of Bardolino. It is the warmest of the three subzones and also the wettest, and is characterised by its many hills, wide valleys and terraces.
Covering the villages of Bardolino, Castelnuovo, Garda, Lazise, Peschiera and Torri, this cru lies on the eastern shores of Lake Garda. The soils here are fine and the terrain is hilly.
Covering the villages of Affi, Caprino, Cavaion, Costermano and Rivoli, this cru lies at the northeast of the Bardolino area, at the foot of Mount Baldo. Consequently, vineyards are on average at higher altitudes here.