Don’t Give Up On Bardolino

In February, I wrote about Summa, a delicious Custoza Superiore produced by Cantina Gorgo, which is perfect for warm spring evenings. Today I want to highlight one of Cantina Gorgo’s red wines: 2012 Monte Maggiore Bardolino Superiore DOCG. I “discovered” this wine during my trip to VinItaly in March. I like it so much that I brought multiple bottles back to Munich.

Just like Custoza, Bardolino suffered for decades from its rather poor reputation which was a result of high yield combined with poor quality and bad marketing. The result was therefore often not pleasant to drink wine, bottled in small boxes and bottles containing more than just 0.75 liters (popular were 2 liters bottles). But fortunately things are changing. The Bardolino DOC appellation was created almost 50 years ago, in 1968 to be precise, and is centered around the homonymous village which overlooks the shores of Lake Garda. Bardolino DOC has often been compared to be the red equivalent of Custoza DOC and while the production areas are quite similar, the vineyards for Bardolino are located slightly closer to the lake.

In order to increase the reputation of Bardolino wine, the local Consortium created a new DOCG appellation in 2001, called Bardolino Superiore DOCG, after a number of member-wineries were unhappy with the poor reputation the wine had. The yield for Bardolino Superiore is lower, the minimum aging at least one year and in order to combat the “cheap wine image” the wine may only be bottled in 0.75 and 1.5 liters bottles.

If you never tasted a Bardolino or a Bardolino Superiore before then you might be wondering what it is. So let me tell you a little more about the wine. Bardolino is always a blend; never a varietal wine. Corvina and Rondinella, two grape varieties which are also used in the Valpolicella to produce the likes of Amarone and Ripasso, form the basis of every Bardolino blend.

Allowed blend composition:

Corvina: 35%-80%
Rondinella: 10%-40%
Molinara: up to 15%
Other local red grape varieties together up to 20%

The exact blends tend to vary from vintage to vintage. Wineries who favor a more traditional approach tend to stick to Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara but I have seen Bardolino blends which included grapes like Sangiovese, Croatina and Barbera.

Tasting Notes: 2012 Cantina Gorgo Monte Maggiore Bardolino Superiore

2012 Gorgo Monte Maggiore Bardolino Superiore DOCGMonte Maggiore is a blend of overripe Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes and the fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats. The wine is then aged for about one year in parts in barrique and in parts in stainless steel tanks. The indicated alcohol by volume is 13%.

In the glass, the wine has a bright ruby red color. Wonderfully intense nose with lots of red cherries, raspberries and hints of toffee as well as viola. On the palate, juicy, very quaffable and quite fresh with a present acidity. Medium-full bodied wine and overall well-balanced. Notes of dark chocolate, espresso and red berries. Monte Maggiore is not too complex and has pleasing, mellow tannins. Intense finish.

4 / 5 stars      

Parting Words

Too many times have I been disappointed by a Bardolino and to be honest most of my wine friends here in Munich who I brought one of these bottles of Cantina Gorgo Monte Maggiore as gift looked at me quite skeptical when they noticed that their gift was “just a Bardolino”. I’m relieved that so far I’ve only received positive remarks about it.

Monte Maggiore is one of those wines I’m looking forward to drink again when the days are getting even warmer. I’d even go as far as to say that Monte Maggiore is the very best Bardolino that I’ve tasted so far and I’ve tasted quite a few. If you have had bad experiences with Bardolino in the past then I encourage you to try Monte Maggiore before you give up on it.

I stumbled over a Swiss online retailer of Monte Maggiore which states that the wine has an aging potential of 10-15 years. Until now, Bardolino has always been a wine for me that I drank while it was young and if I am completely honest then I am having some trouble imaging how this wine would taste in a decade. I’d say it’s perfectly ready and drinkable now. Monte Maggiore is so easy-to-drink that if you aren’t careful then the bottle is empty in no time!

Update 13. April: I e-mailed Cantina Gorgo to enquiry about the aging potential and they disagree with the suggested aging potential from that Swiss online shop. Cantina Gorgo suggests to consume the wine within a maximum of six years. False advertisement is not cool. I guess I was rightfully sceptical.

I bought my bottles of Monte Maggiore together with a bunch of other wines in Verona for a little under €5/bottle at La Grande Mela. I love buying wine at La Grande Mela because they always have great deals and the prices there are so much better than they are here in Munich. On Wine Searcher, Monte Maggiore has an average price of €16.



5 comments on “Don’t Give Up On Bardolino”

  1. Espressito Reply

    That’s what I’d call real a bargain! Rarely have I found a wine that I enjoy drinking that costs just $5. How many of these did you buy 😀

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Well the store (La Grande Mela) in which I bought my case of Monte Maggiore is not too far from Bardolino and so I assume that they were able to negotiate a good price with the winery. I looked for the wine in Munich and found a restaurant/wine shop which sells it for about €12.

  2. talkavino Reply

    Sounds like a great wine at a great price. I never knew Bardolino can be so cheap. As far as aging potential, that would be interesting to find out – may be you should check with the winery as to what they think about it?

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Most Bardolino I have tried was rather inexpensive 🙂 It’s mostly a cheap wine.
      Somehow I hadn’t thought of emailing Cantina Gorgo regarding the aging potential but I’ll definitely do that. Great idea, thanks!

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      I checked with the winery and to no surprise they disagreed with the suggested aging potential from that Swiss online shop. Cantina Gorgo suggests to consume the wine within a maximum of six years. Cheers.

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