It’s no secret that rosé is having a moment in the United States, what with so many popular brands boasting their own varieties, and frosé taking center stage during the hot, summer months. It’s also no secret that the French produce some pretty stellar rosé wines, most of which can be found on any U.S. restaurant wine list or in any U.S. wine shop. But let’s look past the obvious, and travel deep into the Northern parts of Italy, onto the shores of Lake Garda, into the region of Veneto, where the lake breeze and high mineral content of the soil have an astounding effect on its inhabitants, and where, since the 2014 harvest, the Rosé Revolution has been alive and well in the form of Chiaretto di Bardolino — the Italian Dry Rosé.
What exactly is Chiaretto (pronounced key-ar-et-toh)? This leading Italian rosé is of the dryer variety and pale in color; after all, chiaro means “pale” in Italian, and chiaretto refers to a shade that is even paler than pale. This distinct color is a direct result of limited contact with the skins of the grape used in production, mainly Corvina in this case, along with smaller amounts of locally grown grapes such as Rondinella and Molinara. Although the skin of Corvina is red, its flesh is white, which explains why such little contact with the skins allows the color of Chiaretto to remain a very light shade. With longer contact, the wines can develop a deeper, darker shade, as seen in other wines that also use the Corvina grape, including some of Italy’s most prominent reds, mainly Amarone, Valpolicella and of course, Bardolino.
One of the most prominent wines in Veneto, Italy’s largest wine producing region, is the D.O.C. red wine produced on the shores of Lake Garda, Bardolino, mostly made up of Corvina, followed by Rondinello, and a blend of other local varietals. Now, its “sister wine,” Chiaretto is carving a name for itself, and it’s high time we keep an eye out for these wines to slowly but surely make their way into mainstream U.S. wine territory.
There are 8.5 million bottles of Chiaretto produced each year across 2,700 hectares (6,670 acres) of land from 100 different producers; and while it’s mostly sold in the Italian and German markets, interest has been on a steady increase in the U.S., Canada and Scandinavia. The Italian winemakers of Chiaretto dream that one day when people all over the world discuss and drink rosé, the conversation won’t just center around France, but will also include Italy. With its fresh citrus notes and aromatics, hints of spice, and ability to easily pair with a variety of food, this global recognition of Italian rosé may come sooner than they anticipate.
Chiaretto is an easy-drinking wine, best served young and chilled. Whether you enjoy it as a midday aperitif, during the summer at a pool or beach party, or even in the cold winter curled up by the fire with a big bowl of comfort food, it’s never going to let you down. One of its most popular pairings is, surprisingly, pizza. Throw away the stigma that only a cold beer can wash down a slice; rosé and pizza have found promise in one another, and the pair is here to stay.
Here are twelve Chiaretto wines to look out for:
Albino Piona Bardolino Chiaretto
Cantina Di Custoza Chiaretto Classico
Cantine Tinazzi Campo Delle Rosse Bardolino Chiaretto
Domini Veneti Bardolino Chiaretto Classico
Guerrieri Rizzardi Chiaretto Bardolino Classico
Le Fraghe Rodon Bardolino Chiaretto
Monte Del Frá Bardolino Chiaretto
Monte Zovo Bardolino Chiaretto
Poggio delle Grazie Bardolino Chiaretto
Santi Infinito Bardolino Chiaretto
Vigneti Villabella Bardolino Chiaretto Classico
Tenuta La Presa Baldovino Bardolino Chiaretto