LAKE GARDA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
Some would argue that people who are born near lakes, perhaps because they breathe particular colors and scents, have innate senses of harmony. Every morphology of the earth has its own peculiarity, which is undoubtedly reflected in the soul and in the behavior of its people, but we like to think the lake suggests, more than any other environmental circumstance, a rather relaxing mix of balance and proportion.
Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, is a tactile representation of this notion. The result of combined geophysical actions (glacial, fluvial and tectonic), this basin, also known as Benàco, possibly from the Indo-European word, meaning "strongly penetrated,” occupies a long, wide furrow between Lombardy to the west, Veneto to the east and Trentino to the north. A varied, expansive landscape, and in places expressing strong wilderness, the land however constantly maintains a remarkable sense of order and balance.
Here the waters are intensely blue, and the colors of the local vegetation are classically Mediterranean, with mild temperatures thanks to the region’s latitude. Olive trees dominate the lands, and the famous citrus groves, with heavy citron trees are cultivated on the Brescia shore in specially-constructed greenhouses with thick, stone pillars. Check out the iconic Tassoni citron for a better visual of these amazing citrus specialties. An unique flora accompanies the general landscape, and enriches our views with oleanders, agaves and palms. The Garda area is a literal lake of history and well-being, which is reflected in its wonderful surroundings of brightness and natural colors.
VALTENESI ROSE' APPEARS ON THE SCENE
Here in 1896, the Chiaretto production process began, on the Brescia side of Salò. At the heart of this innovative method is an intriguing love story between Venetian senator Pompeo Molmenti, noted wine aficionado, and Amalia Brunati, a local Garda-based noblewoman.
We are happily in the post-Phylloxera period, a moment of great renewal throughout the entire European continent. Scientific evidence points to increased fertility in the soil, with 40-50cm of gravel present, and a maximum percentage of 40% clay. For winemaker and senator Molmenti, this represented the perfect moment to dedicate himself entirely to producing wines. Molmenti found the perfect stage for putting into practice his notions about rosé wines, learned during stints in Provence. Et voilà, Valtènesi Chiaretto appears on the scene, expressing the Groppello grape in its most authentic expression. Other grapes along for the ride include Marzemino, Barbera, and Sangiovese (in order of importance).
SECRETS OF ROSE’ PRODUCTION
One secret in the world of rosé production lies in the great mystery of the hours of contact needed between grape must and the skins of the harvested red grapes. This contact is followed by the secretive ritual or night racking. Winemakers’ expertise comes into full play as they try their best to condense all their expertise into a very short working time, all in order to avoid losing the connection between native soil and what experts refer to as “origin,” or the character and spirit of local territories. Furthermore, winemakers must respect rigid harvesting structures, allowing harvests to take place at ideal times (likely early morning) when the grapes reach their perfect phenolic maturity.
From working to maintain color to extracting character from every grape’s skin - this is part of the charm of crafting pink wines! It’s when your doubts about tonality creep in that you know you’ve done an excellent job. The end result should be an incredibly seductive nuance, like the petals of pure flowers; intense, fresh, fragrant aromas, marked by a palate of accentuated sapidity, slight almond hints, and a saline background.
THE WORLD OF CONTEMPORARY CHIARETTO WINES
We can therefore firmly confirm Chiaretto as the result of a rigorous interpretation of classic Riviera del Garda enological practices. The finest producers of contemporary Valtènesi Chiaretto are Avanzi, Cà dei Frati, Cà Maiol, Bulgarini, Costaripa, La Basia, Le Chiusure, Pasini San Giovanni, Tenute del Garda, Conti Thun, Pratello, Scolari and Selva Capuzza. This unique pink wine is a challenge for produce primarily because of the careful attention needed to cultivate the specific vine needed for this wine. The market eagerly awaits these labels’ production and the grapes encourage production of this special wine.
Chiaretto wines are complete symbols of the notion of vocationality, and is a wine that easily acts as an antidote to formalism and banality. The Chiaretto wines are capable, in many cases, of acquiring harmony, elegance, and complexity during the years to come. Most excitingly, this wine allows chefs the freedom to interpret this wine as they like.
For even more perspectives on Valtènesi, Mamablip's food and wine journalist, Andrea Grignaffini, visits the region here as well and gives us some wonderful insight into the Valtènesi area and what makes its wines so special. More wine-focused articles here to devour as well - catch up on your wine reading today!
Check out the Valtènesi Consortium page to learn more about what this association is doing to promte the Valtènesi wines throughout Italy and the globe.
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