Lago di Garda

by Alec Steidl

Lago di Garda is the largest of Italy’s northern lakes. It is located in northeast Italy bordering Lombardia to the west and south, Verona to the east and Trentino to the north. Its large size and substantial depth (346 meters) create a micro climate that influences the growing potential of the surrounding areas. In areas such as this– when water temperatures are cooler than air temperatures– weather systems move across the surface of the water and the temperature differentials cause the water to be vaporized, picked up and deposited onshore. When water temperatures are warmer, the water is a moderating influence creating warm breezes onshore.


Suffice it to say that the appellations surrounding Lago di Garda– Lugana to the southwest in Lombardia and Bardolino to the east in Verona– benefit from their proximity to the body of water. The breezes keep the vines free of disease and rot. The cool nights and warm days allow long, slow ripening, the preservation of acidity and the development of aromatics.


These areas are not the first one might turn to when the winelist arrives. But for the guest seeking the road less traveled, these appellations can provide some interesting options at great price points. Here are a couple of gems which show what Garda is all about.


A sentimental favorite house is Trevisani. Gian Pietro and Mauro run their family farm which was founded by their parents in the 60s. The choice to cultivate grapes other than the traditional Schiava was novel when they planted, but the wines attest to their vision. Here Cabernet, Rebo (a hybrid of Merlot and Teroldego) and Merlot are produced to great success. “Diana,” a blend of 80% Rebo and 20% Merlot, is a wine that I really enjoy drinking in the springtime. Lots of bright purple fruit, light body and just a hint of oak make this perfect for first courses or simply sipping. Try it with a slight chill. The top bottling is “Due Querce,” a muscular Cabernet with great intensity of fruit balanced with medium body. This wine is aged for 18 months in barrel and 6 months in bottle prior to release. It will stand up to more intense fare or even harder aged cheeses. Once again the story here is value as you should see these offerings under $50 on winelists.


Then there is Lugana. This is an appellation which lies on the southern edge of Garda and extends into Lombardia as well as Veneto. Near the Sirmione peninsula lies the estate of the Dal Cero family called Cà dei Frati. They have been here since 1940 and their flagship wine is the Lugana “I Frati.” The Lugana D.O.C states that the wine must contain a minimum of 90% Trebbiano di Lugana with 10% allowed for other varietals. This wine is resplendent with a nose of white flowers and ringing acidity. The wine really comes together via its texture. It is rich and unctuous without being cloying. The richness and body are achieved by six months of lees aging. After fermentation in steel the wine remains in contact with the expired yeast cells (lees). As these breakdown (the process is called autolysis) enzymes are released. The result is added body and creamy mouthfeel. Secondary flavors are created that augment the overall profile. Notes of biscuit and brioche complement the bright fruit flavors and floral bouquet. Enjoy this wine with fresh water fish such as perch. We encourage you to enjoy these wine on your next visit to Babbo.