Veneto is home to some of Italy’s most well known quality wines, with Bardolino wines being counted among the regions most elegant. The wines are crafted from grape varietals that thrive along Veneto’s picturesque hillside landscapes, which overlook Lake Garda, located west of the city of Verona.
Bardolino wines which take their name from the town Bardolino - were granted D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status in 1968, and are generally composed of the following grape varietals which include: Rondinella, Corvina, Molinara and Negrara - and up to 15% of the blend may include Rossignola, Barbera, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Garganega.
While the wines exhibit several similarities to Valpolicella wines, they are quite distinct from one another in terms of how they are made and the specific climates and soil structure in which they are grown, which contains more clay and limestone. Also Bardolino red wines generally contain less Corvina which adds body and structure - having more Rondinella which has a more subtle flavour profile. Yields in Bardolino also tend to be higher than the 13 tons per hectare officially prescribed in DOC regulations.
This most stunning of wine areas is located on the south eastern shores of Lake Garda, the classico zone surrounds the towns of Bardolino, Affi, Cavaion, Costermano, Garda and Lazise. Beyond the classico zone to the south are flat, fertile plains where Bardolino wine is made from high grape yields. About 45% of the wine production comes from the Bardolino Classico region, but unlike its neighbouring Veneto DOCs - Soave and Valpolicella - there seems to be less terroir driven differences between the wine produced in the Classico region and that from the greater DOC zone.
Other versions of Bardolino include 'Superiore' DOCG - which has at least 1% more alcohol and must be aged in the cellar for at least 12 months before being released. Other Bardolino versions that exist are Chiaretto (Classico) - a very pleasant rosé, Chiaretto Spumante - light sparkling rosé, and Bardolino Novello (Classico). Except for the Chiaretto these are hardly sold outside of Italy. The allowed grapes and aging rules are the same as for the regular Bardolino variant. The Bardolino Novello was first produced in the late 1980s in a style similar to French Beaujolais Nouveau.
Bardolino is generally an uncomplicated fresh, fruit driven dry red wine with a bright red colour. A good Bardolino wine however is a pleasure and combines very well with light dishes (e.g. pasta, white meat and salads) and anti-pasti platter, tapa’s and cold meats. In the heat of summer it is also suggested to serve a red Bardolino slightly chilled at 15-17C.
Classifications for Bardolino wines include Classico and Superiore, while other varieties of the wine include Chiaretto Spumante and Bardolino Novello. Bardolino Classico is the most common type to be sold outside of Italy, while those seeking an effervescent version of the wine can reach for Chiaretto Spumante, a sparkling rosé. Bardolino Superiore is the only Bardolino wine that has been granted DOCG certification. Bardolino wines generally exhibit notes of sweet red apple, red berries and wild cherries, with a dry and slightly spicy finish.