Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Bardolino, generally modest but attractive light red wine from the south eastern shores of Lake Garda in the veneto region of north east Italy. As in the other two important Veneto docs soave and valpolicella, the original production zone known as classico (Bardolino, Garda, Lazise, Affa, Costermano, and Cavaion) has been extended to a considerably larger zone whose wines are simply called Bardolino. The vineyard area of both zones combined is 3,000 ha/7,413 acres, producing some 240,000 hl/6.34 million gallons annually. Like Valpolicella the wine is made of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, with the possible addition of up to 20% of any authorized variety. Merlot is often used to bolster alcohol levels to the official minimum of 11.5% (10.5% for straight Bardolino DOC) so that after an additional year of ageing it can be labelled Bardolino Superiore, a category that has docg status. The rosé version, either still or sparkling, is called Chiaretto. terroir seems to have rather less effect on this relatively simple wine than it does on Soave and Valpolicella, because large parts of the Bardolino zone, whether Classico or not, lie on a plain. But the determining factor of the wine’s general blandness are the high permitted yields of 11 tons/ha (or 80hl/ha). And yields even higher than this in vineyards trained on pergola are encouraged by the region’s many bottlers (some 100 in total) looking for bulk wine at the lowest possible price. Between 2002 and 2007 the local consorzio tried to improve quality by in-depth research into soil composition and clonal selection. But the proposed system of subzones had made little impact on the wines by the mid 2010s. Although Bardolino is undeniably light, Le Fraghe’s Bardolino is proof that freshness and modest alcohol is not necessarily boring.