Rosé wines from Veneto: Chiaretto di Bardolino

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Chiaretto comes from the Italian word “chiaro”, which means light or pale. Chiaretto means something even paler, quite simply, a lighter shade of pale. This is a good description of the colour of Chiaretto di Bardolino. Sometimes when you look in the glass, you can almost mistake it for a white wine. The colour is beautiful in the bottle. This is important, as the appearance is part of the attraction of rosé wines. We have tasted an extensive selection of Chiaretto di Bardolino and give you our best picks.

This summer, Chiaretto consumers are drinking the 2020 vintage. We have blind-tasted 50 of the wines from 2020 and selected for you our favourites. Actually, one 2019 and one 2018 had sneaked into the tasting. Both of them were among our preferences which shows that it is not always necessary to drink your rosé within a year.

Chiaretto di Bardolino comes from the eastern side of the beautiful Lake Garda in the Veneto region of northern Italy. The area is the same as for the red Bardolino wines. As for the red wines, the rose producers use mostly corvina. They can use up to 95% in a Chiaretto. It is mandatory to have at least 5% of rondinella. Corvina and rondinella are also the main grapes in neighbouring Valpolicella.

Fifty samples of Chiaretto di Bardolino
Fifty samples of Chiaretto di Bardolino, copyright BKWine Photography

The climate by the lake is mild. It is admittedly not far from the Alps, but a Mediterranean climate prevails, and both lemons and olives grow here.

There is an old tradition of making rosé here in the area. In 1896, Pompeo Molmenti, a lawyer with a vineyard on Lake Garda, began experimenting with a rosé wine technique that he had learned in France. In 1968, Bardolino Chiaretto became one of the first regions to be given a DOC.

Gradually, Chiaretto has become brighter and brighter in colour, as it turned out that the pale type of rosé wine is highly rated. With a very careful pressing of the grapes and no further skin contact, this very pale colour is obtained. But even if this is generally true, the colour varies widely. You can indeed find chiarettos with deeper colours. But the colour is not necessarily a good indication of the style of the wine.

A wide range of colours and shades in Chiaretto di Bardolino
A wide range of colours and shades in Chiaretto di Bardolino, copyright BKWine Photography

Ten million bottles of Chiaretto di Bardolino is made every year from 100 producers and approximately 1.000 hectares. 60% is exported.

Here are our favourites from the tasting.

Aldo Adami Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Pleasant strawberry and red currant aromas on the nose as well as on the palate. A fresh, lingering acidity.

Vinicio Bronzo, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Intense aromas of raspberries and cherries, on the nose and on the palate. Very fresh.

Casaretti, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Citrus fruit and apples mingle with the red berries and give complexity to the wine. It is concentrated and fullbodied with a good freshness.

Corte Gardoni, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Beautiful pale salmon pink colour. Discreet nose but a very nice and concentrated palate, full-bodied, with a pleasant bitterness at the finish. A bit different.

Gorgo, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Intense aromas of raspberries and strawberries. Lingering, savoury on the palate.

Il Pignetto, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Quite aromatic on the nose. Very refreshing in the mouth, with lots of citrus aromas.

Le Muraglie, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Nose of ripe berries, soft on the palate; long and smooth.

Marchesini Marcello, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Red berries and citrus on the nose. A flavourful palate with an appetizingly fresh finish.

Poggio delle Grazie, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Elegant and floral. Good balance, good structure and refreshing.

GiovannaTantini, Chiaretto di Bardolino 2020

Grapefruit on the nose. Quite full-bodied. A trace of bitterness in the finish that we enjoyed.

Sartori, Chiaretto di Bardolino Mont’Albano 2020

Floral aromas, some bergamot, a little austere. Dry finish, good complexity.

Vitevis, Chiaretto di Bardolino Terre di Castelnuovo 2020

Pleasant aroma of ripe red berries and fresh herbs. Refreshing and enjoyable with a dry finish.

Villa Calicantus, Chiaretto di Bardolino Classico 2019

Beautiful copper colour. A wine with character, a little smoky, fresh and juicy acidity.

Villa Cordevigo, Chiaretto di Bardolino Gaudenzia 2018

Extremely light in colour; it looks like a white wine in the glass. Pleasant floral (jasmine) aromas. Light in style and elegant.

You can also see Åsa Johansson’s selection of chiaretto di bardolino here.

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