Angelo Peretti, the director of the Bardolino Consorzio, is a great fan of older whites, and told me he prefers to give Custozza at least a couple of years before opening it, because it’s light and fruity in youth but then develops and can do extraordinary things. And having said this, he told me about the 1999 Albino Piona he had tried… He asked them to bring a bottle to the Bardolino presentation for me, and, well. It was eye opening to say the least. It’s primarily Garganega, with the other eight varietals that commonly go into the blend, and is an elegant gold with greenish reflections and white rim. Beautiful nose with powerful minerality and nutmeg laced spice supported by ample petroleum and some savory notes, with underlying honey. Impressive, with a great deal to say, and it’s one of those wines one can swish again and again, finding new things every time. On the palate it’s rich, with slightly sweet (honey again) white berry fruit supported by deft savory minerlaity and by slight greenish accents, while the acidity is savory and flows into a long savory finish with a slight greenish tannic underpinning that leads into long honey-laced savory notes with pleasing tannins that provide direction and depth. Most impressive, and while this was my first experience with an older Custozza I certainly hope it won’t be my last. Fascinating, and all the more so because the wine was not made with aging in mind, but rather to be drunk within 2-3 years of the harvest. After 13 it has given infinitely much more.
Albino Piona Corvina IGT Veneto 2008
Corvina is one of the three red classic varietals of the Valpolicella-Garda area (the other two are Rondinella and Molinara), and figures prominently in both the Valpolicella and Bardolino blends. It is also vinified in purezza by some winemakers, and in the course of this year’s Bardolino presentation I tasted one rather heavily oaked Corvina that, we were told, had been awarded a prize in Brazil. It was quite international, enough that I could see it getting the award, and to be frank left me nonplussed. Albino Piona’s Corvina, which is from the area south of the Bardolino production zone, is fermented and aged in steel, and provides a very different picture: Pale garnet ruby with brilliant ruby reflections and pinkish rim. The bouquet is elegant, with nutmeg and spice mingled with red berry fruit and some savory notes. Great delicacy and very pleasant to sniff. On the palate it’s bright, with savory cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by nutmeg-laced spice that echoes the nose and emerges again in the finish, while the tannins are smooth and supported by by peppery accents that gradually give way to warmth and nutmeg in the finish. Very pleasant in a graceful key, with terrific finesse and elegance, and while it is eminently drinkable now it will also age well for many more years.