Posted by: tomciocco | July 11, 2014

SLIPPING ON THE PINK GARDA

Recently, I wrote about the Italian peninsula’s paucity of pink (wines) by featuring the Puglian producer that put out the first commercial bottle of rosato. In case you didn’t read that post, only this area, and Abruzzo (in the form of a wine called Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo) and this evening’s wine from way up north on the shores of Lake Garda, called Chiaretto di Garda produce rose` wines in any meaningful quantities.

 The fact that these latter two pink wines have names more particular than “rosato” (just the Italian word for “rose`”) in the form of “cerasuolo” and “chiaretto” is a testament to the fact that these areas have a fairly long tradition of producing pink wines, and that they are something more than also rans. And where Abruzzo’s cersauolo almost always possesses a very deep pink if not very light red color, as the name “chiaretto” implies (it translates roughly as “little clear one”) the rose` wines from the Garda area are almost always quite pale, truly pink wines.

The terroir of the Garda wine region is quite peculiar, especially when considering the area’s northerly location. From certain spots within this zone the snowcapped Alps are clearly visible, but rather than lending their chilly air to this zone, these highest mountains in western Europe actually serve to shelter the area from the cold northerly temperatures. And, like any large lake, Garda moderates temperatures, keeping summer daytime highs lower and winter nightime lows higher. Further, the lake serves to reflect a lot of solar energy into the vineyards, allowing the relaible ripening of all kinds of red grape varieties that just a few clicks away from the water is far more difficult. In fact, this area is warm and sunny enough to reliably raise olives, and while I wouldn’t swear to it, I’d say that this region is the northernmost one that can pull of such a feat.

This area cultivates a veritable bevy of grape varieties, both white and red, and the blend in this rosato is a clear confirmation of this cornucopia, it being a blend of two very local grapes: Gropello and Marzemino, and two “national” varieties in the form of Barbera and Sangiovese. So when all is said in done, the sweetness of the terroir the lightness of the style, andthe complexity of the blend make for some of the the prettiest and most sophisticated rose` wines made anywhere on the Italian peninsula. And as I said to start this post, there aren’t scads of such pink wines made in the Bel Paese, but Garda Chiarettos are proof that if there is a “Goldilocks” place for making rose` wines in this country so well known for its reds, this is definitely it.

I matched this delightful rose` with a first course of egg tagliatelle with a three mushroom and leek cream sauce, followed by hake braised with tomato, wine, anchovies, capers, etc. with a side of the white polenta so peculiar to eastern Lombardia and Veneto.

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Pasini Az. Ag. San Giovanni Chiaretto Valtenesi 2013

“Smoked salmon” color. Elegant aromas of sour cherry, strawberry, grilled peach, fresh flowers, fresh herbs, dried ginger, lychee nuts and honey. In the mouth the wine is medium light in body, with a juicy and fresh acidity and pretty, soft flavors of raspberry, cranberry, and hints blood orange and green olives. Long super clean finish. Very nice stuff.

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