Posted by: tomciocco | February 9, 2011


Snugged into rugged, green, pre-alpine mountains, straddling Lombardia and Veneto is Lago di Garda, Italy’s largest lake. Covering an area roughly the size of a large city, this almost preposterously beautiful lake and mountain region lends its name to a wine appellation, that is known mostly for its whites (if at all), which are wonderful, but I’ll write that post when I find one of those wines…this one’s a RED!   

There is a veritable soup of red grape varieties grown in the Garda region, and because of its more northerly latitudes, this might come as a surprise to many. But  this very large quantity of water acts as a heat sink, not only holding heat, but also reflecting solar energy back into the vineyards, and the vineyards that are situated on the eastern shore basted by the western, afternoon sun are especiallywarm. In fact this little microclimate is actually warm enough to support olive groves – probably the northernmost in Europe.

So one among that plethora of red-fruited Garda vines is one known as Groppello. Definitely not one of the best known vines used in the zone, it is the one most traditionally associated with it. Seen as often if not more so as a “voice” in a blend, it possesses a sunny, smooth, and spicy personality that make it a very charming as a solo vocalist. With snowbanks still looming in the windows, its not the time for this, but Groppello is a super match with grilled fish, especially trout…

But no trout tonight…This evening it was egg pappardelle with a mushroom/cream/herb sauce, then boneless pork chops slow braised with tomato, thyme, and rosemary, and breadcrumb-gratined baked cauliflour.

Provenza Garda Groppello 2008

Slightly browned medium ruby color. Subtle aromas of wood smoke open into black cherry and blackberry fruit notes, and aromas of dried grass and wildflowers. The medium-light body has a gregarious, zingy acid/tannin structure underneath but with a smooth and direct cap of strawberry fruit supported by a subtle earthiness, and flavors of black pepper and dark chocolate. Finishes fresh and clean.


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