Gambero Rosso 2016: Discovering Italian Wine Regions – Custoza DOC
Few weeks ago, I attended Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri event in New York. For those unfamiliar, Gambero Rosso is a leading Italian wine guide, where the wines are rated with the symbol of a glass (bicchiere in Italian). The wine can get a rating of one, two or three glasses, and those three glasses (Tre Bicchieri) rated wines considered to be some of the best wines the Italy has to offer. Every year, Gambero Rosso conducts a series of tastings worldwide, to celebrate these best Italian wines, and the tastings are called Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri events.
While I had been attending Tre Bicchieri events for the past 4 years, this year was the first time I also attended seminars conducted right before the general tasting. The first seminar was dedicated to the white wines of a small, and I would bet, largely unknown to the majority of the wine drinkers, region in Veneto, called Custoza.
Custoza is located at the south border of the Veneto region, on the shore of the Lake Garda. Excellent terroir to grow wine grapes, and white grapes in particular. Region has mild winters, which definitely helps not to worry about the frost. Another important characteristic of Custoza is mixed soil – clay, sandstone, limestone, which leads to a diversity in the wines. Overall, there are about 700 wine growers in Custoza, 70 wineries, and total wine production is roughly 12 million bottles per year (1 million cases). The region is fast growing on Italian market and represents great value for the money. A number of indigenous grape varieties are use in wine making in Custoza – Garganega, Fernanda/Bianca Fernanda (Cortese clone), Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbianello (known as
Tokai Friulano in other regions), Riesling Italico (a.k.a. Welch Riesling), Incrocio Manzoni (cross created in 20th century).
Seminar presenters also made a statement about Custoza wines having a great aging potential – I would like to get back to that after presenting you with the tasting notes. We tasted total of 8 wines in this seminar:
2015 Tinazzi Custoza Cà dei Rocchi (Garganega 40%, Trebbiano di Soave 40%, Bianca Fernanda 20%)
C: pale straw
N: amazing, fresh sweet fruit, candies, through the roof aromatics. Green notes appear after a while.
P: crisp, clean, great acidity, fresh, will work great with seafood
V: 8-, food wine
2015 Gorgo Custoza San Michelin (Garganega, Cortese and Riesling Italico)
C: light gold
N: restrained, candied lemon, herbs, fresh caramel, opened into concentrated sweet baking spices. Smell is an enigma, keep changing. Yes, tropical fruit.
P: clean and crisp, but leaves sweet aftertaste. More concentrated than the previous wine, medium to full body, finish switched to more acidity
2014 Cavalchina Custoza Superiore Amedeo (Garganega 40%, Fernanda 30% (Cortese clone), Trebbianello 15% (Tocai clone), Trebbiano Toscano
C: light golden
N: hint of smoke, gunflint
P: excellent, clean, green apple, fresh, perfect balance, acidity on the finish. Leaves me desire to take another sip
2013 Albino Piona Custoza DOC (Garganega 30%, Trebbiano 35%, Friulano 20%, Trebbianello, Pinot Blanc and Riesling Italico)
C: light golden
N: medicinal, iodine, a nose almost suitable for a scotch
P: lots of fighting components, interesting. It is drinkable, but not together
2013 Menegotti Custoza Superiore Elianto (Cortese, Garganega, Trebbiano)
C: light golden
N: strange, vegetative
P: vegetative/sweet all over the place
2013 Monte Del Frà Custoza Superiore Cà del Magro (40% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano Toscano, 5% Tocai Friulano, 10% Cortese, 10% Chardonnay-Riesling Italico-Malvasia and 15% Incrocio Manzoni)
C: golden, nice viscosity
N: minerality, hint of gunflint, white fruit sweetness, restrained
P: delicious. Ripe apples, white stone fruit, minerality, excellent balance
2010 Monte Del Frà Custoza Superiore Cà del Magro (40% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano Toscano, 5% Tocai Friulano, 10% Cortese, 10% Chardonnay-Riesling Italico-Malvasia and 15% Incrocio Manzoni)
C: concentrated gold
N: minerality, volcanic soils, smoke, interesting
P: interesting complexity, still a touch of oxidation, vanilla, sea salt
V: 7+. This is a drinkable wine, and it will stay like that for a while.
2007 Cavalchina Custoza Superiore Amedeo (Garganega 40%, Fernanda 30% (Cortese clone), Trebbianello 15% (Tocai clone), Trebbiano Toscano
C: concentrated gold
N: slightly oxidative nose, similar to Jura whites
P: vanilla, steely notes
V: 7. May be good with cheese, but not enjoyable on its own
I very much enjoyed young Custoza wines – many were vibrant and delicious. When it comes to the two older wines, I wouldn’t say I was fun (I’m sure you can see it in my notes). Yes, I like tertiary aromas of older wines, but I still want the wine to have harmony and balance – and this was not the case here.
Very interesting learning experience in any case, plus a new grape (Incrocio Manzoni), or even two if I will count Fernanda as a separate clone/grape. So, have you ever had Custoza wines? What do you think of them?
In the next post, I will be talking about Gambero Rosso Special Awards master class, so until the next time – cheers!
To be continued…