The Custoza Mael is a blend of Garganega (40%); the noble white grape of the Veneto, with Riesling (20%), Trebbiano Toscano (20%), and Trebbianello (20%) of a unique clone that Gianni Piccoli tells me is “autochthonous” to his vineyard. The pale yellow wine should be tasted in a good large glass like fine white Burgundy (this is a textbook example of how wine evolves in the glass after it’s poured). The dried spiced apples, grilled Seckel pears, and dried honeycomb that move in and out of the foreground alternate with orange blossoms, mint basil, fresh nutmeg, and chamomile as the nose evolves in the glass. On the palate, the wine is silky and layered, like lemon chiffon, with a deeply satisfying core of warm tree fruit and fresh cream that puts on weight over time in the glass, and is always punctuated by palpable briny minerality and refreshing honey crisp apple acidity. Drink now–2025.
About this wine producer: Gianni Piccoli is as stubborn as he is modest and self-effacing, with no interest in following the easy paths to guaranteed market share if they mean compromising his principles. He and his sons Mattia, Andrea, and Stefano simply make the best wine in Bardolino. Which is how they find the best customers. Corte Gardoni was established in 1980, when Gianni 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.