5 - Valtenesi Doc: the enchanting pink
Did I tell you that mine is a Wine Residence? Not just because there is always a bottle waiting for you when you arrive, or because I regularly organise tastings with local producers and sommeliers, but because the Lake Garda area is home to the famous Chiaretto. Or rather, to be precise, Rosa Valtenesi (not to be confused with Bardolino Chiaretto).
If you're passing through these parts, you really can't miss the chance to taste a wine with ancient roots and yet so suited to modern tastes and, what's more, produced only here.
Rosa Valtenesi, rosé wine for excellence
Valtenesi is distinguished by the typical microclimate of Lake Garda (temperate Mediterranean, never too cold in winter nor too hot in summer) and by its fertile morainic soil.
The regulations for this DOC rosé wine stipulate the use of at least 50% Groppello grapes, and this is undoubtedly the main characteristic that distinguishes it from Bardolino Chiaretto, which is still pink but produced with other grape varieties. Be careful, therefore, when you ask for a Garda rosé wine in a restaurant.
The Groppello grape is a typical variety of the area, perhaps indigenous to the western shore of Lake Garda, whose name since ancient times indicated different varieties of grapes but with a common characteristic: a compact bunch with tightly packed berries, similar to a "groppo", which in the various dialects of the Po Valley means "knot". The other grapes used in Chiaretto Valtenesi in varying percentages are Marzemino, Barbera, Sangiovese and Rebo, another red grape variety characteristic of the area. There are also productions of pure Chiaretto Valtenesi Groppello.
The typical light colouring is obtained by a method known as "per alzata di cappello" (by raising the hat), which involves a very gentle pressing of the grapes and then leaving the must in contact with the skins for only a few hours. It is the so-called "wine of one night", because the rosé colour is usually obtained during the night after the harvest. The racking must be carried out immediately afterwards otherwise the wine takes on the most intense red colour.
Chiaretto Valtenesi is one of the Italian rosé wines with a long tradition. In fact, the Valtenesi has been the home of rosé wine for over 500 years (not to mention that wine was already being cultivated here in Roman times).
The Valtenesi proper, however, was born in the nineteenth century (in 1896, to be precise) thanks to the passion for wine of Pompeo Molmenti, a lawyer, art history teacher, Venetian senator and at the time mayor of Moniga del Garda.
Legend has it that it all began thanks to a love story, that of Molmenti and the Garda noblewoman Amalia Brunati. In order to follow his beloved, the senator decided to move to Lake Garda, where he perfected the technique of making rosé wine, a method that is still used today and is known as the "Molmenti method".
And, apparently, Rosa Valtenesi seems to be the wine of lovers: the DOC was recognised in 2011 and presented to the public on Valentine's Day the following year.
Could this be why I have a soft spot for this wine?
Characteristics and pairings
It is an intoxicating, delicate and elegant wine that I like to enjoy with aperitifs because of its scent of flowers and wild berries.
The classic pairing is with grilled fish (from the lake, of course, but also from the sea) and also goes very well with typical soft cheeses from Brescia, soups, omelettes and cured meats. Some people do not disdain to taste it together with pizza.
It is drunk chilled, not cold. And it's a real pleasure to drink.
Stop by: I can't wait to let you taste it in the version from the best local producers.