Bardolino DOC, harmony of tradition and innovation
Thanks to the climate and the morphological features of the region, vines were already planted in the area in ancient times; the finding of seeds of Vitis Silvestris dating back to the Bronze Age testifies to it.
On the other hand, numerous finds dating back to the Roman period such as chalices and other vessels testify to the production of wine in ancient times. It was used during ceremonies and religious rituals.
The first written sources date back to the Early Middle Ages and they show the presence and trade of vineyards. At that time representations of bunches of grapes and vine shoots were also realized; today they are located in some churches of the area such as the Pieve di Santa Maria.
Still in the Middle Ages the monks and religious institutions had a key role in developing the vine cultivation that is tightly connected with the Christian community due to cultural and liturgical reasons.
Thanks to the measures taken to reclaim the lands, they started to flourish; the monks indeed were able to manage the viticulture and vinification process thanks to the donations they received from the noble families. According to tradition, in 807 King Pipino offered the San Zeno monastery of Verona a church in Bardolino (San Zeno) with its plots of land.
That church held a “caneva” (basement) mentioned in some documents dating back to the twelfth century that was used as a warehouse for products and stuffs such as the grapes carts through which farmers paid the rent to the monastery.
Later in the fifth century viticulture had a significant development and with the Republic of Venice it played a key role in the economy of the region.
In 1968 it obtained the DOC label (Controlled Designation of Origin) and the production area was defined. It included sixteen cities of the Venetian shore: Bardolino, Garda, Lazise, Affi, Costermano, Cavaion Veronese, Torri del Benaco, Caprino, Rivoli Veronese, Pastrengo, Bussolengo, Sona, Sommacampagna, Castelnuovo, Peschiera and Valeggio sul Mincio. The first six cities of the list belong to the so called “classic zone”, the most ancient production area: only the cities belonging to this zone can be the proud holders of the “Bardolino Classico” mark.
A year later, in 1969, local producers founded the Protection Consortium in order to guarantee the compliance with the productive process, the features and specificities of the Bardolino wine.
Today the Bardolino is renowned and appreciated all over the world; most of the bottles are indeed exported abroad, particularly to Germany, United Kingdom, Austria, France, Denmark, Switzerland, USA, Canada and Japan.
Wineries producing Bardolino in the production area are about one hundred: from the small family-run farms to the major Italian wine firms.
The numbers of the Bardolino D.O.C. Protection Consortium
The region and grape varieties
Since the moraine hills originated from glacial erosion they have different kinds of soil (sandy, rocky, clayey). This variety makes the Bardolino wine unique and special, together with the use of native grape varieties and the mild climate.
Different grape varieties are used, although the most important one is the Corvina Veronese, a native variety of Bardolino, characterized by an excellent capability to adjust to the different soils of the Verona shore and hinterland.
According to the 2018 procedural guideline the Corvina variety represents between 35% and 95 % of grapes used for production.
On the other hand the use of the Rondinella variety, another native variety from Verona, must represent between 5% and 40%. Further native black varieties can be used up to 20%, including Molinara and Corvinone.
Two varieties of Bardolino are produced in this area: the Bardolino DOC in all its versions: “Bardolino DOC”, “Bardolino Classico DOC”, “Bardolino Chiaretto DOC”, “Bardolino Chiaretto Classico DOC”, “Bardolino Chiaretto Spumante DOC” and “Bardolino Novello DOC”; and the Bardolino Superiore DOCG (Designation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin); they both obtained their mark in 1968.
In 2018 the Protection Consortium Partner’s meeting approved the introduction of three Subgroups already known in the nineteenth century: “La Rocca” (central zone of the lake shore) ,“Montebaldo” (northern piedmont zone) and “Sommacampagna” (southern moraine hills).
“El que sabe degustar no bebe demasiado vino,
pero disfruta sus suaves secretos”
The “Bardolino DOC” and “Bardolino Classico DOC” are easy to drink with their fruity smell and their scents of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, currant and marasca cherry; on the other hand wines belonging to the three subgroups – refined during at least one year – are seasoned with spices such as cloves, cinnamon and black pepper.
Finally the Bardolino “Superiore” – marked with the DOCG since 2001 – peaks with its taste and smell and its alcoholic strength that is higher than in the “basic” version.
The Bardolino in its entirety is a versatile wine: it matches with all kind of dishes, from the starter to the dessert, from the Italian cooking to the exotic one; there is a huge variety of combinations.
As for traditional Italian cooking, this wine perfectly matches with main dishes and pasta: risotti, ravioli but also mixed legume soups.
On the lake side, the Bardolino accompanies local dishes made with lake fish: it is divine with risotto with tench, sardines, grilled lavaret and even with fried fish!
The perfect temperature is between 14 and 16 °.
The “Bardolino Chiaretto DOC”, whose name refers to the rose-coloured shade, comes from the same grapes as the Bardolino, but peels go through a “pinkish vinification” process; being partially in contact with them, the must softly changes its colour. Through natural fermentation the Chiaretto becomes Chiaretto Spumante, with a light foam and a persistent fine grain.
In 2018 the Chiaretto received a specific DOC mark thus becoming independent from the “Bardolino” DOC mark it had received in 1968.
The Chiaretto rosé, with its scents of citrus fruits and berries, is a perfect aperitif pleasantly matching with starters such as ham, fish and vegetables.
It goes with pasta and light summer recipes: caprese salad, ham and melon, rice salad and carpaccio.
It is perfect with fish and shellfish, but also with Asiatic coking and sushi.
The perfect temperature for the Chiaretto (both classico and spumante) is about 10°C.
The Bardolino DOC can also be found in its “Novello” version; like all young wines, it is produced through carbonic maceration (at least 85%) and it is bottled within the 31th of December of the year.
It has to be drunk within a few months, since it does not keep long due to its organoleptic features. It has been the first wine of this category to receive the DOC mark (1987).
It perfectly matches with ham platters but also main dishes, pasta and meat dishes such as roasted or grilled white meat. Taste it with chestnuts, especially with roast chestnuts!
The perfect temperature is 14°C.
The most important event is the “Festa dell’Uva e del Vino”, born in 1929; it takes place every year during the harvest season, between September and October.The central square (Piazza Matteotti) originally held it, with kiosks and exhibitions of all kind of instruments used for production.With the development of the local economy, it has become a tourist festival and it has been enriched with new events, thus becoming one of the most awaited events of the international setting.
Today the festival takes place on the lakefront, in order to accommodate the large number of visitors coming every year. Local associations and wineries offer taste itineraries of the Bardolino wine in all its versions.
In the magical fall atmosphere on the lake, local wineries offer Novello tastes with food and beverage stands: risotto, bruschetta with local olive oil, cheese, the local fogassa and chestnuts; they all perfectly match with a glass of Novello.In spring, the village holds the Palio del Chiaretto: a long itinerary from Cisano to Punta Cornicello, during which you can taste the Bardolino Chiaretto in both its “Classico DOC” and “Spumante DOC” version.You can taste local wines also during the “Aperitivo sotto le stelle” and the “Vinitaly and the city”.
Discover more through the events page.During wine festivals, wine ambassadors parade through the streets of the village. They all belong to the Confraternita del Vino Bardolino, founded in1982 by local producers with the Protection Consortium sponsorship.
During the parade, the members wear a long red cape and a pewter tastevin, the sommelier’s symbol. The members are initiated to the Confraternita through the sword and a ritual formula. They have to wear the short cape during a year, before being able to wear the long one.
In 1984 the Confraternita contributed to the foundation of the “Strada del Vino”: a 80 km itinerary starting from Bardolino and reaching other towns where Bardolino wine is produced. The itinerary holds more than seventy wine-producing farms.
The main course goes along the classic production zone. It is easy to follow as you find numerous signs along the road. You can follow it by car, by bike or on foot.
You will meet vineyards, farms and wineries, but also landscape, architectural and historical beauties.
Museo del vino and wineries
The Cantina Zeni of Barodlino also holds a wine museum.
It holds exhibitions of old instruments and machineries used for harvest and vinification in ancient times; but it also tells us a story about the grapes transformation, while deepening our knowledge of the different phases of production: from plantation to harvest, from grapes transformation to bottling. Discover more through the museums page!
Further information about local wineries producing Bardolino DOC are available on the Protection Consortium website