The sun is setting. The garden is watered. The baby is googling. The chops are on the grill. And you are looking at life through a rose-colored glass of cool Chiaretto which just arrived from northern Italy. Great color, great perfume, delicate flavors, bone dry.
Gianni Piccoli grew up surrounded by orchards, but he had wine in his blood so when an estate with extensive vineyards came up for sale in 1971 he jumped at the opportunity. For years the grapes of Corte Gardoni were sold to cooperatives, but Gianni felt that their wines lacked soul. In 1980 he broke those ties and began crafting his own wine, focusing on the character of the grapes and terroir. Gianni passed away in 2020 with nearly fifty vintages under his belt at the helm of Corte Gardoni. In the process, he became a local hero and proud ambassador of Bardolino and its terroir, setting the stage for a new generation to follow in his path creating humble, delicious wines from native grapes that speak to the region and its traditions. Corte Gardoni remains in capable hands today, as Gianni's three sons had already taken over daily operations at the winery several years before his passing. Mattia is in charge of the cellar, Stefano manages the vineyards, and Andrea helps both of his brothers and also handles the commercialization of the wines.
Italy’s most prolific wine region by volume, the Veneto is the source of some of the country’s most notorious plonk: you’ll find oceans of insipid Pinot Grigo, thin Bardolino, and, of course, the ubiquitous Prosecco. And yet, the Veneto produces the highest proportion of DOC wine of any Italian region: home to prestigious appellations like Valpolicella, Amarone, and Soave, it is capable of excelling in all three colors, with equally great potential in the bubbly and dessert departments.
With almost 200,000 acres planted, the Veneto has a wealth of terroirs split between the Po Valley and the foothills of the Alps. While the rich soils of the flatlands are conducive to mechanization, high yields, and mass production of bulk wine, the areas to the north offer a fresher climate and a diversity of poor soil types, ideal for food-friendly wines that show a sense of place. Whether it’s a charming Prosecco Superiore from the Glera grape, a stony Soave or Gambellara from Garganega, or a Corvina-based red in any style, the Veneto’s indigenous grape varieties show real character when worked via traditional production methods.
Since his first visit in 1979, Kermit has regularly returned to the Veneto to enjoy its richness of fine wines and local cuisine. Our collaboration with Corte Gardoni, our longest-running Italian import, is a testament to this. The proximity of beautiful cities like Verona and Venice, with their deep culinary heritage, certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
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