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 told 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). Aromas of ripe Bartlett pears, chamomile, and orange blossoms move in and out of the foreground, then alternate with suggestions of Cameo apples, lime zest, mint basil, and fresh nutmeg, and 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: In 1980, Gianni Piccoli decided that his beautiful grapes, carefully farmed at low yields on the stony slopes of the moraine in Valeggio sul Mincio, just south of Lake Garda, would no longer be sold in bulk, to be blended anonymously in the vats of huge industrial wineries like Bolla and Folonari, which still dominate Bardolino. Building a winery was a risky undertaking in the region, which, at the time, had so little prestige. But Gianni Piccoli never looked back. Today, under the direction of his sons Mattia, Stefano, and Andrea, Corte Gardoni supplies the finest Bardolino and Custoza to nearly every Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy.