Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Pinot Grigio … on Lake Garda

The Garda DOC invited a group of wine professionals to taste a selection of their Garda Pinot Grigios. Sadly, this being Covid times, the event was not on Pinot Grigio on Lake Garda but on Zoom, second best but still very worthwhile.

Garda DOC is in effect a regional DOC, covering large swathes of territory to the west, south and east of the lake. It offers the choice of many different grape varieties, both local and international. In total it covers more than 30,000 hectares. What will surprise many is that it covers famous areas such as Valpolicella and Soave. In addition, it includes areas such as Lugana, more obviously associated with the magnificent lake. So this is really Pinot Grigio around Lake Garda, rather than Pinot Grigio on Lake Garda.

Pinot Grigio on Lake Garda
Lake Garda, where we would like to be …

Having said that, the lake is fundamental. As with any large body of water, it has a moderating influence on the climate. This makes summers cooler than you might expect in central, northern Italy. As Costantino Gabardi explained, the strip that is within 10 kilometres of the lake has a mild, Mediterranean climate, rather than a fiercer continental climate. It is no mistake that this has been a great tourist destination for centuries. Winds from the lake also refresh the vineyards. This makes for a great setting to grow refreshing, zesty, Pinot Grigio. But can the wines do more than that?

Quality in Pinot Grigio on Lake Garda

On the basis of this tasting, the answer is definitely yes. It is always interesting to taste multiple samples of what is basically a wine made in the same style. All the wines are 100 per cent Pinot Grigio, picked relatively early so that they have just 12.5% abv. They are all made by modern cool temperature winemaking in stainless steel tanks. Ageing on the lees is minimal (up to four months) for fresh, fruit-expressive wines. No doubt MLF was blocked to retain acidity. And yet there were differences.

The full list of wines is below. But to pick a couple of examples, Val dei Molini from Cantina di Custoza was really fresh with attractive, medium-intensity lemon and apple fruit with a surprising depth of flavour. By contrast, Ca’ Vegar from the Cantina di Castelnuovo del Garda had real concentration and some substance, rather than just relying on the freshness of the fruit. Peter McCombie MW, who hosted the session, commented that he thought that this would have the capacity to age for a few years and I would definitely agree.

Promoting Pinot Grigio on Lake Garda

Finally, it was interesting to see that the Garda consorzio has chosen, on this occasion, to promote the DOC via Pinot Grigio. This is a variety that I love, whether in Alsace, Friuli or New Zealand. But there is hardly a shortage of Italian competition for this variety, Wines from Friuli and Alto Adige sit at the top end of the market, the Veneto or even Sicily provide affordable wines. Nonetheless, I think this promotion could work. Just think about sitting by Lake Garda with a glass of Garda Pinot Grigio in your hand. It is the perfect combination of place and drink. On a very minor point, I was surprised that the consorzio has a rather, well, grey, logo. Surely. Garda calls for the gorgeous blue of the lake?

Pinot Grigio on Lake Garda, the logo
Garda DOC logo
MASTERCLASS CONSORZIO GARDA DOC “PINOT GRIGIO”, 12TH JULY 2021

PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC “SELEZIONE GARDA” 2020, CANTINE COLLI MORENICI

LOCATION OF VINEYARDS: Morainic hills, near the southern shore of Lake Garda
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 25,000
VINIFICATION: Standard white wine vinification + 3 months ageing in bottle
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5%
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: Not available in the UK. Approximate Euro retail price €7-8

VAL DEI MOLINI” PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC 2020, CANTINA DI CUSTOZA
LOCATION OF VINEYARDS : Custoza, Sommacampagna, Sona, Valeggio Sul Mincio
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 15,000
VINIFICATION: Standard white wine vinification
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5% vol.
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: £5-6

PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC 2020, AZIENDA AGRICOLA BERTOLDI
LOCATION OF VINEYARDS: Veneto region, province of Verona
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 15,000
VARIETAL COMPOSITION: 100 % Pinot Grigio
WINE MAKING PROCESS: Standard white wine vinification
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5%
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: Not available in the UK. Approximate Euro retail price €12

“CA’ VEGAR” PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC 2020, CANTINA DI CASTELNUOVO DEL GARDA

LOCATION OF VINEYARDS : Morainic hills with clayey-calcareous soils
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 50,000
VARIETAL COMPOSITION: 100% Pinot Grigio
WINE MAKING PROCESS: Standard white wine vinification with 4 months ageing in stainless steel
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5 %
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: £13-15

PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC 2020, SANTA SOFIA

LOCATION OF VINEYARDS: The alluvial soils of the morainic hills, east of Lake Garda.
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 40,000
VARIETAL COMPOSITION: Pinot Grigio 100%
VINIFICATION: Standard white wine vinification + 6 months ageing in stainless steel and 3 months in bottle
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5%
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: £12

ROCCA SVEVA PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC 2020, CANTINA DI SOAVE

LOCATION OF VINEYARDS : Hills of Verona area
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 10,000
VARIETAL COMPOSITION: Pinot Grigio
VINIFICATION: The whole clusters fermentation + 6 months ageing in stainless steel
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5%
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: £9.90

CLIVUS PINOT GRIGIO GARDA DOC 2020, CANTINA DI MONTEFORTE SCA

LOCATION OF VINEYARDS : Monteforte d’Alpone (VR)
NO OF BOTTLES PRODUCED ANNUALLY: 60,000
VARIETAL COMPOSITION: Pinot Grigio 100%
VINIFICATION: Standard white wine vinification + ageing in stainless steel tanks for 2-3 months
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 12.5%vol.
RETAIL PRICE ON MARKET: £7.90

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