Friday, April 19, 2024

Zucchini Patties Paired with Monte del Fra Chiaretto di Bardolino

Lake Garda in northern Italy is a perfect place to situate yourself for several reasons.  Not only is the area a beautiful place to tour, but you have great accessibility to many great towns in the not too far distance including Verona, Trento, Brescia and Bergamo to name a few.  Plus, you have the benefit of exploring two regions since Lake Garda sits between the Veneto and Lombardy. Not to mention the classic food and wines of both regions surrounding Lake Garda especially.  Today I’m highlighting one of Italy’s finest rosé wines found at Lake Garda, Chiaretto. 

Where is Chiaretto produced 

You can find Chiaretto wines produced in both the Veneto and Lombardy wine regions along the southern half of Lake Garda, the largest lake in the Veneto.. The name stems from the word Chiaro meaning light or pale color, which is represented in these wines.  They are lighter in comparison to other rosé wines found throughout Italy such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo from the Abruzzo region as well as rosé wines from Puglia and Sicily.   

There are a couple types of Chiaretto produced between the Veneto and Lombardy regions. In the Veneto you will find Chiaretto di Bardolino, named after the town of Bardolino located alongside Lake Garda. These wines were granted the Bardolino DOC Chiaretto status in 1968 with a later name change to Chiaretto di Bardolino DOC in 2018.  

The grapes used in producing Chiaretto di Bardolino are the typical red grapes of the Veneto region, including primarily Corvina along with Rondinella and MolinaraYou will also find these grapes in the wines of Valpolicella, Bardolino and Amarone from the surrounding territories.  

wine appellation of Chiaretto di Bardolino
Chiaretto di Bardolino appellation - copyright of Consorzio Vini Bardolino

In the Lombardy region you will also find Chiaretto produced in the subzone of Valténesi.   There you will find Chiaretto produced under the Valténesi Chiaretto Riviera del Garda Classico DOC.  These wines differ from their counterpart as the primary grape in these Chiaretto wines is Groppello along with Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera.  With both regions the red grapes are gently pressed and spend a short maceration time to produce the pale pink colors. 

The soils are sandy and stony with morainic hillsides.  Due to these morainic soils, you may find some minerality in these wines.  Chiaretto wines are dry and crisp with notes of citrus, red berries and some stone fruit.  They can also be slightly tannic and tend to have a refreshing, vibrant acidity.   

The wine 

I wrote recently about Monte del Fra so you can read more about this winery on my previous blogThis week I tasted the 2022 Monte del Fra Chiaretto di Bardolino DOC.  This wine is produced around the area of Sommacampagna sitting just east off the southern tip of Lake Garda.  The hills reside at about 350-490 feet above sea level in soils of morainic origin with calcareous clay, gravel and sand.    

2022 Monte del Fra Chiaretto di Bardolino DOC

The Monte del Fra Chiaretto di Bardolino is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and MolinaraThe wine spends 24 hours on the skin resulting in a wine with a pale salmon color.  There are aromas of citrus, wild strawberries and a slight herbaceous note.  Fresh and dry on the palate with crisp acidity.  Citrus and red berry flavors with a touch of minerality leave a lengthy, lingering finish.  ABV 12.5%    

Wine Pairing – Chiaretto with Zucchini Patties 

As the weather is warming up here in the northeast I’m getting into my grilling and lighter food fare mindsetI have been eating a ton of veggies and am expanding my garden this year planting many of my own flowers and vegetables from seeds with my childrenAlways a fun activity to partake in and watch them growI’m a huge fan of zucchini and eat it on the regularInstead of grilling it or roasting it with some extra virgin olive oil and sea salt I wanted to try making zucchini patties to pair with the Chiaretto. 

zucchini patties paired with Chiaretto di Bardolino

This was a simple side dish to prepare and to be honest it also makes a nice lunch alongside some added protein.  I grated about 3-4 smaller zucchinis into a bowl adding a ½ cup of flour, 2 eggs, ¾ cup blend of mozzarella and parmigiano cheese and salt.  Upon mixing the ingredients I formed them into patties and sauteed them in some extra virgin olive oil until brown before flipping a few minutes on each side. I would add a little more flour next time using this many zucchini to thicken the mixture. 

The zucchini patties paired well with the Chiaretto di BardolinoChiaretto tends to be a food friendly wine due to its vibrant acidityA light, flavorsome dish paired nicely with the crisp, citrus driven Chiaretto.  

Buon weekend!

You can shop on in support of Vino Travels and find Chiaretto wines to try for yourself.

*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are always my own.

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Perfect Value Wine Pick with Famiglia Cotarella

Although I love to share the lesser known grapes and wine regions throughout Italy, I also can’t pass up sharing wines I come across in tastings with a fantastic QPR, the quality relative to the wine bottle’s price.  This week that wine is the 2019 Falesco Tenuta Vitiano Rosso under Famiglia Cotarella.   

The winery – Falesco 

Falesco began 3 generations ago in the 60’s with Antonio and Domenico Cotarella whom wanted to start a winery and make their own wine.  In 1979 the Falesco brand was born under brothers Renzo and Riccardo Cotarella.   You may have heard me speak about Riccardo multiple times here at Vino Travels as he is a well-respected winemaker and consultant for over 80 wineries all throughout Italy.  The initial beginnings under Renzo and Riccardo Cotarella were to recover ancient vineyards and varieties through a multitude of experiments and research over the years.  

In 2016 the Famiglia Cotarella umbrella was established over the family’s 4 brands as Renzo and Riccardo’s daughters, Dominica, Marta and Enrica took over the leadership of the business.  The daughters continue to remember the origins of the winery while also allowing the wines produced today to show “elegance and modernity”. 

The vineyards within the Cotarella family span between both the Umbria and Lazio regions from Lake Bolsena in Lazio up to the hills of Orvieto in Umbria occupying over 740 acres.   

The Wine 

The 2019 Falesco Tenuta Vitiano Rosso Umbria IGP is one of the traditional wines under the Falesco line of winesThe vineyards are located in the comune of Montecchio in Umbria.    

This wine is made up of equal parts Sangiovese, Merlot and CabernetThe wine is fermented in stainless steel and is aged 3 months in neutral oak barrelsThis wine was medium-bodied with firm tannin on the palate, but balanced with fresh acidityRipe cherries with a hint of tobaccoAt only $10 a bottle this wine is a no brainerIt also seemed to be the hit with the surrounding tasters.   

2019 Falesco Tenuta Vitiano Rosso
You can find this wine at
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