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Garda DOC Chardonnay: A popular grape finds a natural home around Lake Garda

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Gazing out onto Italy’s largest lake, Garda, is a unique sensation to be experienced at least once in a lifetime. The lake is an expressive feature of the landscape, like an eye looking benevolently upon her fruits: lemons, agaves, olives and most notably, vineyards. Indeed, Garda derives its name from the Germanic word warda, watchpost. And as a landscape, this “eye” inevitably also influences how we perceive its wines. To quote Lévi-Strauss, ‘goodness goes hand in hand with beauty’.

The Consorzio Garda DOC presides over an umbrella appellation, founded to promote the wine production of three cities: Verona (with six DOCs), Brescia (with three) and Mantua (with one). All in the name of Garda, a cradle of viticulture since at least the 1st century BC. A recently commissioned study of the terroir in the Garda DOC zone reveals that there is marked agro-climatic variability, resulting in some wonderfully diverse wines. The study outlined different styles in different areas, among which it emerges that the zone of the Brescia and Mantua DOCs benefits from higher temperatures than the area of the Veronese DOCs. It also appears that the sunlight and rainfall conditions of the Garda DOC appellation resemble those found in the finest winegrowing areas of Italy and abroad. Moreover, the favourable microclimate means that conditions of hydric stress are rare in this zone.

Garda DOC Chardonnay

As a world famous international grape variety, Chardonnay has its own history
in the Garda DOC, especially in the Brescia and Mantua zones, as well as around Verona. Since the vines were planted in the 1980s, this variety has been a constant fixture for local producers. Today, around 1140 ha of the Garda DOC are planted with Chardonnay, accounting for around 4% of the appellation. Some 4 million bottles have been produced in the past year, up 5% on the previous year. A unique microclimate helps in the fight against diseases on the vine, to which Chardonnay is particularly prone, allowing for sustainable vine management. This versatile grape is able to adapt to very different soils and climates; and it’s right at home in this appellation’s hilly areas, with their calcareous and marly glacial soil.

Garda DOC Chardonnay is ideal as an aperitif, conjuring memories of flame-red sunsets over the lake, or to drink throughout a meal. Pair it with antipasti of freshwater fish, raw seafood or fried fish, fish or vegetable-based pasta or rice dishes, and stuffed pasta. It’s excellent with main courses of fish, chicken or pork. Great with goat’s cheese, and worth trying with sushi.

Visitors to the area who are curious about Garda DOC products should stop off at the Garda DOC Point at Peschiera to see the full range.

Top 5 Garda DOC Chardonnays

Villabella, Villa Cordevigo, Garda DOC Chardonnay 2019

89 points
The Delibori and Cristoforetti families’ successful partnership has endured for more than fifty years. This Chardonnay comes from the organic vineyards at Villa Cordevigo in Cavaion Veronese, in an outstanding natural landscape. Its generous bouquet (peach, yellow plum, herbs, jasmine) unfolds into a sapid, long, dynamic palate that leaves you wanting to taste more. Alc 13%

Zenato, Santa Cristina, Garda DOC Chardonnay 2020

88 points
Founded by Sergio Zenato in 1960, and now run by his wife Carla and children Nadia and Alberto, who is the in-house oenologist. This Chardonnay’s thirty-year-old vineyards are in Peschiera (Verona), on clayey soil. A nose of apricot, peach and citrus; an elegant palate with a taut opening and a long, saline finish. Alc 13%

Cantina Gozzi, Colombara, Garda DOC Chardonnay Riserva 2019

87 points
The Gozzi family founded their winery in 1920, but it was brothers Cesare and Franco who revived it. Now it’s run by their children, the fifth generation, on 36 ha in Mozambano (Mantua). A complex bouquet of vanilla, saffron, balsamic and smoky notes. Round and full-bodied, underpinned by freshness and savouriness. Alc 14%

Diego Baroldi, Disidoro, Garda DOC Chardonnay 2019

87 points
Formerly a consultant oenologist for various wineries, Baroldi set up on his own in 2015, having found suitable land for his winemaking project, with just 2.5 ha and plenty of passion. This Chardonnay comes from forty-year-old vineyards in Cavriana (Mantua) located on pebbly limestone soil. Intense, fragrant aromas, and a well-structured, harmonious body. Alc 15%

Francesco Averoldi, Cantera, Garda DOC Chardonnay 2020

87 points
Francesco Averoldi is the fourth generation of a family that’s been making wine for centuries. Their 17th-century estate in the village of Cantrina (Brescia) covers fifteen hectares. Fine, delicate notes of citrus, pear and blossoms. Inviting, sapid and taut on the palate, well-paced with good freshness and length. Alc 13%

Discover more about Garda DOC here

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