Every year, countless thousands of tourists flock to Lake Garda – Italy’s largest lake – from all over Europe, to enjoy the temperate, sub-Mediterranean climate. The hinterland boasts a number of protected appellations, thanks to the unique microclimate created by the lake which is ideal for growing both olives and grapes. Wine tourism is well developed here.
Lake Garda: soil and climate
The moraine hills surrounding Lake Garda shape the westernmost winegrowing area in the Veneto region. The soil in these hills has a strong skeleton and is rich in lime. The gently rolling hills to the south of the lake present compact layers of clay and lime, while the steep, terraced slopes to the north are rich in silica and lime.
The unusually mild climate allows olives to be cultivated as well as grapevines.
Bardolino: grape varieties and wines
Corvina Veronese and Rondinella are the main varieties used in the Bardolino DOC appellation, which has recently enjoyed renewed success on the market. Bardolino has become a modern, sophisticated and long-lived wine, and labels now bear the name of one of its historic growing areas: La Rocca, Montebaldo and Sommacampagna. Chiaretto has become the leading Italian rosé, thanks to the so-called ‘Rosé Revolution’ which has given it a fresh, sapid and citrusy profile and distinctive colour.
Custoza: grape varieties and wines
To the south of the lake we find the native white-grape varieties used to produce Custoza DOC: Garganega, Cortese and Tocai are the big three, backed up by Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia, Welschriesling (or Rhine Riesling), Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and the Manzoni 6.013 crossbreed. Blended in various ways, these grapes can give rise to young, fresh wines rich in aromas and flavours, or more complex wines with good aging potential such as Custoza Superiore and Riserva.
Lugana: grape varieties and wines
The most common grape variety here is Trebbiano di Lugana, known locally as Turbiana. The Lugana DOC appellation has met with more and more success in recent years. Luganas express great character, taste and aging ability. The appellation regulations allow five different variants: ‘basic’ Lugana, Superiore, Riserva, Late Harvest and Sparkling (which can be made using either the Charmat or the traditional method).
Garda: grape varieties and wines
The Garda DOC appellation covers a considerable area which spans the provinces of Verona, Brescia and Mantua. Garda DOC brings together ten different historic appellations of the Lombardy and Veneto regions and the grapes used to make them: the major varieties are Garganega, Corvina, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Merlot. Recently, this appellation has been focusing strongly on the white sparkling wine produced using either the Charmat or traditional method.
Terradeiforti: soil and climate
In the young Terradeiforti DOC appellation, the Enantio grape (also called ‘jagged-leaf’ Lambrusco) gives birth to the full-bodied, tannin-rich red wine of the same name. The Casetta (also known as ‘round-leaf’) grape produces a wilder, more rustic red wine, which can be tamed by skilful aging in wooden barrels. However, it’s the historic Pinot Grigio that’s considered the local grape par excellence. The wine has a strong personality, with fruity and mineral notes to the fore.