Italian wines have long been an irresistible puzzle. With its endless grape varieties and enormous production, I admit to being overwhelmed by its immensity. Italian wines are like a magnetizing lover, attracting and demanding your full concentration. Every region a new adventure, every variety a fresh thrill. The abundance seduces wine lovers into a passionate exploration. In return for our devotion, this country’s wines offer excitement, profound pleasures and an endless love story. My latest crush, a Custoza “Wine” Love Affair.
INTRODUCING THE WINES
OF CUSTOZA, ITALY
Every trip to Italy awakens an eagerness in me, the delight of a new love. In 2018, I fell in love with Collio, Italy and in December 2018 my love affair reached an intensified level when introduced by I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management) and The Consorzio Tutela Vino Custoza to the wines of Custoza. Prior to the invitation, I was not familiar with these wines. A quick read a few days before I flew into the Milan airport, did not prepare me for the fullness that I would experience at the last stop of our trip.
Trattoria Coli Storici
Custoza is in the western province of Verona between Lake Garda and the City of Verona. The area is 1400 hectares with 70 wineries, two cooperatives and about 500 winemakers. Custoza is known for aromatic, fresh, balanced, spirit-lifting white wines. The white wines are a blend, with nine possible grape varieties allowed. According to production regulations, Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbianello must be a part of the blend.
9 GRAPE VARIETIES OF CUSTOZA DOCG
We visited three wineries in Custoza; Monte del Frà, Cavalchina and Gorgo. Each winery family-owned and committed to quality, mindful wine growing and expressive wines. There are two levels of wines in Custoza DOCG; an entry level and a Superiore. A Superiore wine, “is made from the grapes of the best-positioned, oldest, lowest-yielding vineyards – which are also generally the most challenging to manage.” Decanter Magazine
Below is some information about each winery and my favorite wines tasted. These wines were captivating and there wasn’t a bad one in any tasting! I’ve listed those I felt were the most worthy, those which stole my heart.
MONTE DEL FRÀ WINERY
Our first stop was Monte del Frà winery (Via Custoza, 35 Sommacampagna (VR)) This winery is 138 hectares and has been family-owned for the past 60 years.
“The second generation, represented by the brothers Eligio and Claudio, was joined by the third represented by Marica, Silvia and Massimo. Together they embarked on a path of growth based on a few, but very clear values: loyalty to the territory; its enhancement; an increasingly sustainable agriculture; the identification of the most interesting vineyards.”
Wine: These wines were thought provoking. It was fascinating to taste them side by side; each offering another level of complexity. Try the Colombra Garganega,100% Garganega, the vines are over 60 years old. This wine is rich silky with tropical fruit and lots of minerality.
Our second stop was Cavalchina (Str. Sommacampagna, 7, 37066 Sommacampagna (VR)).
“Cavalchina was the scene of battles during the I and II war of independence; a brown slate obelisk remains in evidence of the battle of 1866, reminiscent of the wounding of Prince Amedeo of Savoy. The Cavalchina farm was born at the beginning of the last century with the acquisition of the first group of vineyards, the winery was built later and in part was used as a marc distillery, a plant that remained in operation until 1967. The invention of Custoza is undoubtedly linked to the Cavalchina farm in the wine sector.”
Wine: Cavalchina Custoza, A blend of Trebbianello, Fernanda, Trabbiano and Gargenega. These four grapes mature at different times therefore are vinified separately. The wine has a pretty nose of fresh picked flowers. It’s an easy drinking wine that pairs well with a sunny day, brunch and sushi.
Finally we visited Gorgo (Via Gorgo, 19, 37066 Custoza (VR))
“Established in 1973 the Gorgo Winery was originally a 22 hector the estate, and now stretches over 50 hectares and is certified organic.”
Wines: We started with the Perlato Custoza D.O.C. Spumante Brut, a fresh and fruity spumante made in the charmant method. The grapes are Trebbiano toscano, Garganega, Cortese, Durello. Try the IL Rabitto, I.G.T., this round, full bodied red wine is made from Merlot, Corvina, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon was a crowd pleaser.
Sidebar – no one makes a cheese plate like this winery! See photo above.
As you explore the wines of Italy, don’t skip over this lesser known region. Custoza DOCG is another opportunity to appreciate the people, the culture, and the wines of Italy.
Another goodbye, another heartbreak. I am too old for this drama.
Ciao, Italy. Until next time!