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Guide to Custoza vineyards and grape varieties

This content was produced by Decanter in partnership with the Consorzio Tutela Vino Custoza.

Read a bitesize guide to the vineyards of Custoza and the grape varieties allowed in this white wine DOC near to Verona in northern Italy.

This content was produced in partnership with the Consorzio Tutela Vino Custoza.

The nine Custoza DOC grape varieties:

  • Garganega
  • Bianca Fernanda
  • Tuscan Trebbiano
  • Trebbianello
  • Malvasia
  • Riesling Italico (Italian Riesling)
  • Pinot Bianco
  • Chardonnay
  • Manzoni Bianco

The Custoza vineyards extend over 1,200 hectares and the 2017 harvest produced 100,000 hectolitres, equal to about 13,300,000 bottles.

‘The vineyard is modern and substantially all guyot-grown [cane pruned],’ said Luciano Piona, president of the Consorzio Tutela Vino Custoza.

Moving away from pesticides

‘Density ranges from 5-6,000 plants per hectare with a variable age of between 20 and 30 years. For 20 years, interventions using an integrated defence method, under Consorzio guidance, have been adopted and we have not used insecticides on a large part of the production area for some years now.

‘On about 300 hectares, we are implementing mating disruption for some harmful insects, such as the European grapevine moth. Chemical weed killers are now largely being discarded.’

How it all began

The first hints of vine domestication in the current Custoza production area date back to the stilt house dwelling period.

The first indications of vine-growing can be traced to the Roman era, but it is mainly from the ninth century and throughout the Middle Ages that plentiful proof of grape cultivation are found, especially between the municipalities of Pastrengo and Sommacampagna.

Which grape varieties are allowed?

The Custoza DOC production specifications, approved in 1971, foresee the inclusion of nine vines.

Nevertheless, the modern application of the specifications favours using Garganega and Bianca Fernanda (a local Cortese clone), accompanied by Tuscan Trebbiano and Trebbianello (a local Tai biotype).

However, Malvasia, Riesling Italico, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Manzoni Bianco can also be used.

Art of blending

Custoza is therefore a cuvée wine in which man’s skill in assembling the various varieties grown on different soils emerges. This encompasses both early and late ripening varieties.

The producer’s sensitivity and ability to interpret the land plays a decisive role in defining the blend that corresponds to the company’s style.

Custoza in its entry level form represents around 98% of the wine produced, but it can also be found in its Superiore form, which is made from the grapes of the best-positioned, oldest, lowest-yielding vineyards – which are also generally the most challenging to manage.

‘Our ampelographic wealth has now led to the rediscovery of our wine as a modern wine,’ said Luciano Piona. ‘Its un-exaggerated yet balanced aroma makes it popular with women and the younger generations.’

He added, ‘In fact, it is the latter who are now mainly managing our denomination following a period of generational change. There is enormous collaboration and the quality has increased considerably despite the intrusive presence of cooperatives.’

Three wines to try

Gorgo “Summa” Custoza Superiore Doc 2016 (organic)

Intense on the nose, with floral notes (rose, jasmine, linden) and spiced with saffron. Complex yet well-paced on the palate. It has flavour, softness and makes for a pleasant and memorable drink.

US importer:  $21 Ideal Wines & Spirits, Massachusetts

UK importer: £18 Ellis of Richmond

Le Tende Custoza Doc 2016 (organic)

Intriguing spicy traits, with hints of medicinal herbs and light aromatic notes. There is well-profiled acidity, it is intense and tasty on the mid-palate and has a lengthy finish.

US importer: $8 Wine West, LLC

Massimo Ronca Custoza Doc 2016

Refreshing and vivacious with an immediate saline character. Fruity and medicinal herb notes conceal style and character.

US importer: $15,99 Eagle Eye Brands, Michigan

UK importer: £15 Humble Grape

Read more about the Custoza vineyard land


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