Joe DiLuzio, our resident philologist, told me that “Pràdicà” in Veronese means “Prato di Casa” in Italian. “Our own meadow.” The wine has a beautiful, limpid, ruby red color that seems to be illuminated from within. The nose is understated, and the wine is so complex I asked for help describing it. Susan Crawshaw said it reminds her of the cherry-almond tart her mother makes, with a hint of cinnamon and a currant-jelly glaze. John Murphy added raspberry, white pepper, and cinnamon. And Brian Healy agreed, offering even more detail: a mix of cloves, mild anise, white pepper and coriander (also unsweetened amaretto cookies alongside a pleasant gravelly note). I agreed with all, and added cardamom and sandalwood. This finely chiseled blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Sangiovese is as individual and uncompromising as Gianni Piccoli himself.
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.