Fifty Years of Custoza DOC Wine: A Unique Blend of White Grapes in Lago di Garda

We are in Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy moving towards the southeast area of the lake in a small hamlet called Custoza. Looking towards the east you can see Verona while towards the north you can see the imposing view of the Monte Baldo mountain range. It is a land of panoramic scenery and a richness of cultural heritage, trodden by history. Custoza, which lends its name to the wine designation Custoza DOC, is located in the municipality of Sommacampagna in the Veneto region.

Custoza wines are among the most well-known whites of the area of Lago di Garda. The designations allows its production in nine municipalities in the southeast area of the lake namely Sommacampagna, Villafranca di Verona, Valeggio sul Mincio, Peschiera del Garda, Castelnuovo Veronese, Sona, Bussolengo, Pastrengo and Lazise. The area is located in the southwest of the Garda morainic amphitheatre which is a series of elongated soft hills at an altitude of 50 to 100 meters asl. These hills are made up of deposits left by the glaciers that occurred during the Pleistocene geological period thereby consisting mainly of clay and sand which are found to be particularly good for the cultivation of white grapes. This mixture of soils guarantees good drainage avoiding the problem of water stagnation. The predominantly calcareous composition of the soil gives the grapes the mineral component and characterizes the wines with their marked sapidity.

The climatic condition in the area is substantially constant and homogeneous characterized by hot and dry summers and relatively cold winters which is mitigated by the proximity to the lake. A unique kind of microclimate is attained that is favorable to the growth of the vines as well as an abundant presence of cypress and olive trees that underline its excellent conditions. The slopes of the hills receive sufficient heating while the lower nocturnal temperature are optimal conditions for the ideal full ripening of the grapes which take out the aromatic characteristics of the berries to the maximum as well as its acidity level.

Photo taken from Monte Del Frà

Custoza DOC Wines

Custoza DOC is one of the first white wines that obtained a Controlled Designation of Origin in Italy (DOC) in 1971. Custoza DOC has four types of wines in its designation: Custoza Riserva, Custoza Superiore, Custoza Spumante and Custoza Passito.

The peculiarity of the Custoza DOC lies in the harmonic blend of different white authochtonous grape varieties which contribute to its particularly expressive and balanced personality. This is obtained from at least 70% of the three local grapes: Garganega, Trebbianello and Bianca Fernanca (a local clone of Cortese) while the remaining 30% can be filled up by other varieties like Malvasia, Riesling Italico or Riesling Renano, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Incrocio Manzoni.

The blend of the three protagonist grapes complement each other which also enrich the wine with more complexity. The Garganega contributes the delicate fruit and fruity aromas, the Bianca Fernanda gives more floral characteristics and elegance while the Trebbianello provides the characteristic color and structure. The resulting blend is an excellent harmony of qualities from various grape profiles intertwined with territorial and microclimatic significance with a recognizable freshness and easiness in its drinkability. Custoza DOC wines are characteristically fresh with delicate floral and fruity aromas reminiscent of crispy white and yellow fruits, sometimes with fresh aromatic herbs and spices. In the palate it can be distinctly sapid with a notable note of green almonds in the end. Over time, it has a potential for aging well as the mineral characteristics that were obtained from the morainic soils they were cultivated in emerge and evolve.

Custoza DOC, which has earned its designation 50 years ago is now embraced by a total of 572 winegrowers and 70 wineries in 2,800 hectares of vineyards and an average annual production of 12 million bottles.

Photo taken from Azienda Cavalchina

Consorzio di Tutela del Custoza

A year after receiving the denomination, the Consorzio di Tutela del Custoza was born. It is a consortium of the wineries that safeguards and promotes the heritage of the vine-growing area. It continues to the path of protection of the designation of origin that was received half a century ago, always driven by the principles of sustainability and territorial identity.

Wines at the Wine Tasting

Gorgo San Michelin Custoza DOC 2020
The vines Garganega, Cortese, Trebbiano and Riesling, are cultivated in the 40-year old vineyards of San Michelin of Gorgo Estate. The grapes are harvested late with a 36-hour maceration with the skins followed by ageing on the lees with batonnage for 6 months. It has a bright straw yellow color, an interesting complex nose of white flowers, ripe white peach, melon and fresh aromatic herbs while the mouth is sapid, soft and lingering acidity with persistent finish. An elegant wine that can be enjoyed with various dishes and has a great potential for ageing.

Cavalchina Amedeo Custoza Superiore DOC 2019

Composed of Garganega, Bianca Fernanda, Trebbianello, and Trebiano Toscano. The grapes, harvested at different times according to their ripening period, undergo various wine making procedures that take out their maximum varietal profiles. The blending is done at the end of May and about four months of bottle ageing. The nose displays complexity of fruits and flowers as evidenced by ripe yellow peach, white flowers and light stone. Acidity is accentuated in the mouth with the flavors persistent in the finish.

Massimo Ronca Custoza DOC 2020

A combination of Garganega, Trebbianello and Trebbiano Toscano which are vinified separately in stainless steel vats staying with selected yeasts. The wine is aged for four months on the lees with a bottle ageing of one month. The nose lends a bit of bread aroma initially then followed by white flowers and crispy white peach. It has a mouth with evident saltiness, a good structure and persistent. 

Tamburino Sardo La Guglia Custoza Superiore DOC 2019

Obtained from a selection of Trebbiano, Garganega, Bianca Fernanda and Malvasia, with a maceration on the skin and fermentation at a controlled temperature. Fining in an autoclave follows that lasts from 4 to 6 months and another 3 to 5 months of ageing in the bottle. Complex nose with mature tropical fruits and ripe white peach while in the mouth, the acidity and sapidity both reach out mingling with a note of melon. 

Monte Del Frà Cà Del Magro Custoza Superiore DOC 2018

A composition of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Cortese and Incrocio Manzoni from 30-year olf vineyards. The Cortese and Incrocio Manzoni are harvested and vinified in mid-September while Garganega and Trebbiano are vinified later on. The wine is then aged on the lees in oak barrels for about four months. The nose has an intriguing complexity with the dominance of balsamic note, fresh aromatic herbs, white flowers, mature peach and hints of tropical fruit. The palate lends a distinct sapidity with delicate fruity flavors and long finish.

Albino Piona Custoza DOC 2020

Predonìminantly composed of Garganega at 40%, Trebbianello, Bianca Fernanda and Trebbiano with a minority of Riesling, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Incrocio Manzoni cultivated in vines between 15 to 25 years of age at an altitude of 150 to 200 masl. All the grapes are vinified separately in stainless steel vats with ageing on the lees at different lengths of time and temperature depending on the variety with the aim to enhance their overall features. It has a floral nose with notes of crispy white peach and fresh aromatic herbs while the mouth lends a light savory taste and ending with a slight bitterness.

Consorzio di Tutela del Custoza

Villa Venier
Via Bassa, 14
37066 Sommacampagna (VR), Italy
Tel: +39 045 5545857