We recently joined K&L Wine Merchants Club Italiano wine club and haven’t been dissapointed. In a recent shipment, we received the 2007 Cavalchina Bardolino Superiore Santa Lucia, which paired perfectly with our barbecued boneless leg of lamb. My father, connisseur of all wines pink and sweet, attempted to blend this beautiful Bardolino with his 7-up. He was quickly denied and directed to the Barefoot White Zinfandel that he keeps in the fridge.
K&L’s WINE MERCHANT NOTES
2007 Cavalchina Bardolino Superiore Santa Lucia: Bardolino is one of those Italian words that’s so easy to say, it just rolls off your tongue in a cascade of vowels. Usually that has been the end of the enchantment for me. But while tasting through more wines than you might think humanly possible, I am occasionally stunned by something I didn’t think was possible. For that reason I taste oceans of things that I am guessing ahead of time will be awful (they usually are). However this 2007 Cavalchina Bardolino Superiore “Santa Lucia” is so good I needed to recalibrate my ideas on the Bardolino DOC!
What really caught my attention was the nose of this wine. It was like a pair of arms reaching out of the glass and beckoning me in. The floral notes are obvious and seductive but there is much in the background of this wine, a secondary layer of subtle Middle Eastern spices and dried flowers that fill in the background of the experience. On the palate the wine reminds me of Cru Beaujolais with its serious structure and ethereal aromatics, that delicate power that reminds you that there’s more there but doesn’t tread too forcefully on your palate. This Cavalchina Bardolino is made from a handful of household-name grapes: 60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and approximately 7.5% each of Marzemino and Barbera. The juices are fermented in two batches, the Corvina and Rondinella together for ten days and the Marzemino and Barbera for 15 days. After aging separately and going through malolactic they are blended together.
This is an ideal food wine, perfect for delicate, creamy or primavera-style pasta, or charcuterie (okay, salumi; sometimes French is just easier). I love it with roasted chicken. I like to serve it at cellar temperature, about 60 degrees or so, to give it a fresher feel in the mouth.
WHERE TO BUY
Available at K&L Wine Merchants for $17.99. $15.99 for wine club members.
Bardolino Superiore is the higher-quality DOCG variant of Veneto’s classic light red Bardolino wine, made on the eastern shores of Lake Garda.
Like its more famous neighbor Valpolicella, Bardolino is made from a blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes, complemented by up to 20% Molinara. In the past decade or so the traditional blend has been beefed up with additions of such grapes as Barbera, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are permitted up to 20% in total under the DOCG’s production laws.
Corvina is widely recognized as the superior grape in Bardolino, and is at the heart of Bardolino Superiore. It must constitute 35–65% of the final blend, with a 10% allowance made for its sub-variety Corvinone. Interestingly, thedisciplinare di produzione (the document which outlines the winemaking rules) takes the trouble to state Corvinone in sostituzione di una pari percentuale di Corvina, purché il Corvinone sia coinvolto in terreni ricchi di scheletro (‘Corvinone in place of an equal percentage of Corvina, provided that the Corvinone is grown in stony soils’).
During the frenzied expansion of Veneto’s vineyard area in the 1970s, local wine producers were keen to capitalize on the popularity of their wine, and pursued quantity over quality. The high yields and (short-term) profitability offered by Molinara vines meant this lesser variety was often planted in place of Corvina. Thankfully Corvina’s potential was never forgotten, and its representation in Bardolino wines has now shown consistent increases. While Corvina gives structure and weight to Bardolino, and contributes a certain sour-cherry aroma, Rondinella is responsible for the wine’s characteristic and appealingly fresh, herby flavor.
Bardolino Superiore wines made from vineyards within the Bardolino Classico area are among the finest made in Veneto. These are labeled as Bardolino Superiore Classico.
MORE K&L NOTES
Once named Enotria for its abundant vineyards, Italy (thanks to the ancient Greeks and Romans) has had an enormous impact on the wine world. From the shores of Italy, the Romans brought grapes and their winemaking techniques to North Africa, Spain and Portugal, Germany, France, the Danube Valley, the Middle East and even England. Modern Italy, which didn’t actually exist as a country until the 1870s, once produced mainly simple, everyday wine. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Italy began the change toward quality. The 1980s showed incredible efforts and a lot of experimentation. The 1990s marked the real jump in consistent quality, including excellence in many Region that had been indistinct for ages. The entire Italian peninsula is seeing a winemaking revolution and is now one of the most exciting wine Region in the world.