Corte Gardoni was established in 1980, when Gianni Piccoli decided that his beautiful grapes – carefully farmed at low yields on the stony slopes of the moraine in Valeggio sul Mincio – would no longer be sold in bulk, to be blended anonymously in the vats of industrial wineries like Bolla and Folonari that still dominate Bardolino.

Building a winery was a risky undertaking in a region that had such little prestige, but Gianni Piccoli never looked back. Today, under the direction of his son Mattia, Corte Gardoni supplies the finest Bardolino and Custoza to nearly every Michelin starred restaurant in Italy.

Their Bardolino Superiore Pràdicà is a selected blend of Corvina and Rondinella, with a touch of Sangiovese. The wine is polished, beautifully scented, and silky, with pure red-berry flavors and a mildly spicy finish. This is a delicious pairing with mushroom and balsamic reductions on lighter meats, including veal.

quick pairing recommendations for red wines from this region
Pizza, Lasagna, Simply Roasted Well-Farmed Chicken, Hamburgers

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regionThe ancients believed Venetians were directly descended from the survivors of the Fall of Troy. Like the Trojans, they were tremendous artisans, and their agricultural ability was particularly admired.

More likely, the Venetians came from the vast diaspora of peoples out of the Carpathian Mountains around 1500 BC. It was homage to these people that prompted the Romans to name the Tenth Imperial Region after them: the Veneti. Pliny, Virgil, Suetonius and Martial all refer to Reticum and Acinaticum, the direct ancestors of modern Veronese wine.

Directly west of the city of Verona, on the southeastern shore of Lake Garda are Bardolino and Custoza. The poor quality of the soil, composed mainly of gravel, cla, and sand deposited by melting ice at the end of the last glacial period, is the unique microclimate that is responsible for the fragrance and charm of these wines.

Veneto touches the Adriatic Sea at Venice and runs north through the Dolomites to the Austrian border. Its southern and western limits are the large alluvial plain formed by the Garda basin and the valley north of the Po River.

This tremendous variety of landscape has provided Veneto with an equally varied cuisine: seafood from both Lake Garda and the Adriatic; game, mushrooms and mountain herbs from the Dolomites; the best vegetables of Northeastern Italy – as well as its two staples, corn and rice – come from the Po Valley.

Polenta was introduced in the 17th century and was prepared in much the same way as other grain flours that preceded it. It can be plain, grilled or fried and paired with meats, game and fish. Rice, introduced by the Venetian traders as early as 1400, is the inspiration for as many as forty different risottos. Rice is also prepared with fish and vegetables. One of the fonder pairings of rice and vegetables is Risi e Bisi, or rice and fresh young peas.

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