The lakes of northern Italy are famous for the beauty of their crystal blue waters and quaint lakeside villages, but they’re also home to some of the country’s best wines. The vast Lake Garda in Lombardy – summer home to the wealthy for centuries – is surrounded by vineyards of its own, including the classic Bardolino red wine and light Chiaretto rose. It’s a great destination for wine lovers to combine the pleasure of lakeside living with a day or two touring the local cantinas.
The vineyards of the lake region benefit from a microclimate created by the morainic amphitheater surrounding the lake. The sheltered hills protect the vineyards from wind, and the cool lake reflects sun to extend the growing season. The vineyards are planted on soils rich in magnesium salts and other minerals scoured from the mountains. The wines of the area are delicate and fruity.
Wines of Lake Garda include the white Lugana DOC produced between Verona and Valeggio sul Mincio, the red Bardolino DOC, and the light and refreshing Chiaretto rosatos. Lugana DOC sits on the southern shore of Lake Garda and straddles both Lombardy and Veneto, with the wine made mostly from Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana) grapes.
The full bodied reds of Bardolino come in classico, novello, and superiore versions, while the rosso is made from Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, and the Chiaretto is a young, fresh wine with overtones of peach and apricot. They pair well with the local specialties, which are a mixture of Italian and Veronese, including freshwater fish such as trout, grilled sardines, lavarello ai ferri (lamb shoulder) and pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans), and braised guancette di Sona and risotto al tastasal (risotto with sausage). wine lake garda