Bardolino, 2011. Cavalchina

Bardolino, 2011. Cavalchina

Item #: V0814R2II
Vintage: 2011
Varietal: Bardolino
Vineyard/Appellation: Veneto, Italy
Color: Light magenta
Nose: Cherry with hints of cinnamon and bitter almond
Palate: Delicate with a touch of spice
Finish: Lovely cherry with touches of cinnamon
Rating: 95
Cellaring/Serving Suggestions: Drink now through 2017/Alcohol - 12.5%
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Bardolino can be called the little brother of Valpolicella, grown in the Northeast corner of Italy in the township of Verona. It is made from the same grapes in close to the same percentages, those being Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. The grapes used for this wine mature late and it is necessary for there to be a good climate at the end of the season to realize the potential of these grapes. When this happens, we have one of the most distinguished wines in the Italian panorama: not too deep in color but with an intense bouquet, nuances of cherries and spice. On the palate, it has a persistent peppery and spicy characteristics.

The Veneto offers no shortage of viticultural areas starting at Lake Garda and well within striking distance of Verona. Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino are household names and sell in vast quantities. But, even here, there is more to them than their simple image conveys. Soave and Valpolicella were first produced just on hill sites. As they became more popular, cultivation spread to the surrounding plains. Wines now coming from the hilly heartland are labeled classico. Their quality is several notches up from basic so it is a distinction well worth noting. In addition, the classico wines of top Soave producers are so fine that they redefine the terms for examining these household names.

Bitter-cherry-like Bardolino resembles a Valpolicella and Valpolicella itself. Regardless of the producer, Bardolino can reach heights of distinction and concentration that would surprise many. A super-Valpolicella is called Amarone and is made from the same grapes, Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara that have been left to shrivel and dry out for three months or more between the harvest and pressing.

This is a more serious and imposing Bardolino than we have tasted in the past. Many tend to be a little simple but this Cavalchina is exceptionally worthy. We loved the persistent flavors in the mouth and the overall sensation of light but the penetrating fruit and spice components with that signature slightly bitter almond component would cut through a charred steak with the same ferocity as a big Cabernet Sauvignon.

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