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Custoza – the enchanting and emerging wine region between Verona and Lake Garda

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Discover one of northern Italy’s most exciting and undiscovered wine DOCs.

For many wine lovers, Veneto is foremost, the home of classic appellations and storied regional brands, yet there are a multitude of surprises waiting to be discovered here. South of Lake Garda, is one of northern Italy’s most exciting and undiscovered wine DOCs: Custoza, an often overlooked appellation that produces some truly delectable white wines.

Undiscovered jewel

A mere 20 minutes from Custoza, you’ll find Verona, the city that is home to Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and in another direction, Lake Garda, Italy’s biggest lake. Yet, nestled amongst the hills in Verona’s southwestern corner is a quiet, fresh, vineyard-adorned haven, protected from those crowded tourist destinations. Time seems to stop in Custoza’s hills, which have seen centuries of oenological tradition, dating back to the Romans.

Custoza wines are earning international recognition and acclaim, thanks to the efforts of the region’s dedicated vine growers, and the focused communication strategies of the Consorzio Tutela Vino Custoza DOC. The region’s white wines stand out for their saline expressiveness, their unique blend of local varieties and their great food pairing potential, suited for both local and international cuisines.

Custoza itself proves a worthy destination, as visitors can escape the hustle and bustle, to this quiet pocket of Veneto, where the stresses of life fade away in this sleepy village and its scenic hills.

A picnic in the Northern Italian wine region of Custoza DOC

Secrets of excellence

Although white wine has been produced in the region for hundreds of years, the Custoza DOC was officially founded in 1971. The area under vine is compact, flanked by the Morainic hills that define the landscape between Verona and Lake Garda: a bucolic paradise of woodland, rolling hills, lakes and vineyards. Custoza’s vines thrive on the calcareous soils of the zone, interspersed with gravel/sand deposits and silt.

Here, exceptional terroir and cool evening temperatures converge, yielding aromatic whites with racy acidity and freshness. Overall, the region enjoys a continental climate, with relatively cold winters and warm summers, tempered by the proximity of Lake Garda and the undulating nature of the landscape. In a typical vintage, growers will encounter a benign pattern of consistent sunshine, supported by adequate – but not excessive – rainfall. This helps white varieties to achieve good levels of ripeness without sacrificing acidity: aficionados love Custoza wines for their vibrant citrus aromas and food-friendly salinity.

Map of the denominations in Italy's Custoza DOC wine region

The art of blending

Custoza wine producers are masters of blending. Four native varieties must constitute 70% of any given blend: Bianca Fernanda (a local clone of Cortese), Garganega (an indigenous Veronese grape), Trebbianello (a local phenotype of Tocai Friulano) and Trebbiano, historically cultivated on the hills of the area.

A smattering of other white grapes – such as Riesling and Pinot Blanc – can also be found in these sloping vineyards and can be used to make up the remaining 30%. This considerable flexibility – and therefore diversity – is one of the reasons why critics find Custoza so alluring.

Custoza DOC’s winemakers and growers challenge themselves each vintage, to create distinctive and elegant wines, designed to enchant international palates. Renowned for their powerful aromas, good acidity and rich texture, Custoza wines typically offer flavours of stone fruit, apple, quince and almonds in their youth. Given time to develop, nutty and mineral notes come to the forefront, displaying the typical minerality of the region’s morainic soils.

Enjoying wine in Custoza DOC, Italy

Authentically Italian

Custoza’s fascinating collection of indigenous white grapes and superlative wines are reason enough to visit the area. But Custoza has more to offer than viticulture alone, not least beautiful scenery, fresh air on tap and delicious local cuisine. Expect breathtaking and unexpected views if you venture out for a walk, hire an e-bike or head out on horseback. After exploring Custoza’s green hills, you can return to the village’s rural idyll for a fresh glass of wine and a wholesome meal.

At the heart of Custoza’s appeal, however, is the rarity and intrigue of its oenological tradition: Garganega, Cortese, and Friulano are rarely found outside of Italy. And yet, grape varieties are seldom referenced on the appellation label. In Veneto, more complex traditions prevail and winegrowers stake their primary reputations on representing the terroir, rather than a particular grape variety. When you select a bottle of Custoza, you’re purchasing a unique and inimitable interpretation of a magic combination of soil, situation and climate. This corner of Italy is for those who seek to find something different, and with the current worldwide interest in indigenous grapes, Custoza’s moment has arrived.


Discover more about Custoza wines

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