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One of our favourite lakeside hotels, Aqva Boutique Hotel gives us the lowdown on the best vineyards in around Lake Garda and beyond. Rosé’s, full-bodied reds and bubbly sparkling wines are the fruit of the hard-working viticultural experts of the region. Find out the best of the crop from Federica Mometto and Massimiliano Guidetti, owners of Aqva Boutique Hotel.
This eponymous vineyard is located in the province of Verona, within the large Veneto region. Headed up by the late Giuseppe Quintarelli, also known as Bepi, Quintarelli was an influential character in Italy’s wine revival, post-war and was famed for introducing Valpolicella to the world wine stage.
Thankfully the family continue with surprises after the demise of this legendary figure, and our in-the-know friends at Aqva cite Quinterelli as having a full-bodied wine that’s ‘as good as it gets’, with its crème-del-crème Amarone Riserva and even their Valpolicella Classico Superiore, which is aged for a character-building seven years in large Slavonian oak casks, packs a punch on the palette. To have a try of these special, heavy-weight wines, a wine tasting is a must and booking advised.
Lago di Garda is firmly on the map for its shimmering lake, scenic views and tranquil atmosphere. But its hilly scenery is also carpeted by vines, in particular in Lugana, where the ancient forests meet Brescia and Verona.
Run by three brothers Roberto, Claudio and Valentino Girelli, Montonale looks like a slick operation, and it is, but really the brothers’ obsession lies with the soil and its acidity. And no wonder – its healthy, calcareous clay soil is the reason vines have been cultivated here since Roman times when Catullus impressed Julius Caesar with locally made wine. Today the long-celebrated soil is the recipient of Montonale’s deep rooted traditions on the hills of Desenzano del Garda and home to Aqva owners’ favourite Lugana wine - Lugana Riserva Orestilla.
A vineyard with some very drinkable and delicious wines, certainly according to our friends at Aqva Boutique Hotel, Cantrina is a family-run estate of artisan growers, located near the small town of Bedizzole inland from the southwest of Lake Garda.
Owners Cristina is the artist, Diego is the self-proclaimed strong man, together they’ve been creating the perfect, harmonious balance since 1999. In 2014, they began to bring to life the green intentions they hoped for with stringent eco-management, manual thinning and manure, not pesticide. Their hard work paid off and they yielded their first organic harvest in 2017. Look out for the Rosanoir - a different take on the ‘chiaretto’ - the typical rosé wine of the area, and the standout and truly elegant red wine – mygroppello.
Known as the natural wine guru, Eugenio Rosi is an artisanal wine maker, located in Trentino, Alto Adige who is affectionately described by Aqva as a ‘crazy farmer’ an ironic nickname that refers to his unconventional appearance, but which bears little resemblance to this knowledgeable oenologist who studied at oenological school at San Michele All’Adige.
Producing a small number of bottles each year, the focus at Eugenio Rosi’s vineyard is about natural wine production – his wines are typical of the Trentino region, being wonderfully balanced blends that have an enjoyable complexity including Aqva favourite ‘esegesi’, but as natural wine is described as being ‘alive’, the taste can vary from bottle to bottle. Eugenio Rosi also plays his part in the I Dolomitici Collective, a group of 11 winemakers who work together to promote natural, sustainable wine production in Trentino.
Another family-run affair, Foradori is a friendly, welcoming winery helmed by Elisabetta who Aqva describe as ‘charming’ and it’s here that you’ll be privy to the stories that helped build the winery and vineyards into what they are today including its inception in 1901, the conversion in 2002 to biodynamic farming and the Demeter certifications they have received.
What’s nice about this winery is that the tours don’t just focus on wine – you can get a real sense of place and the whole experience the family have here. Enjoy a wine and biodynamic agriculture tour or a wine and raw milk cheese tasting, both of which tell the stories of the land, with visits to the vegetable garden, vineyard and cellars as well as of course tasting their formidable wine.
Clasped between the Rhaetian Alps and the Orobie Mountains, the vineyard of ARPEPE is blessed with a microclimate that allows sun to spill over the terraces from sunrise to sunset, which aids in the unique cultivation of Nebbiolo – a rare wine that has grown and altered alongside the land for over 150 years.
With a focus on working on the land by hand, the five generations of family pride themselves on their slow and careful tending of the vines and carrying of grapes in baskets up the cliffs combined with an unhurried maturation and bottling of the wine – done in synergy with the phases of the moon. Their bold reds speak for themselves – come and tour the stone-walled vineyard followed by a tasting of a selection of ARPEPE labels.