Wine Wednesday: Valtènesi Chiaretto DOC, Il Chiaretto from Azienda Agricola Pasini San Giovanni

Today’s wine Wednesday is dedicated to Il Chiaretto from the Azienda Agricola Pasini San Giovanni. The wine is made from a blend of indigenous varieties: Groppello, Marzemino, Barbera and Sangiovese. To be a Valtènesi some 50% of the blend must be from Groppello (either Gentile and/or Mocasina). As a grape,
Groppello has a thin skin and is delicate. The grapes that go into making this particular wine come from ​the Cap del Priù and the Villa Romana vineyards which date back to the mid-seventies and consist primarily of Groppello and Marzemino grapes.​ These 15 hectares of loose and permeable land in Raffa di Puegnago, are rich in coarse soil of glacial origin, according to the winery website. The winery also has ​12 hectares in Picedo di Polpenazze, which were planted in the early nineties with the best Groppello clones. After a few hours of contact between the must and the skins of local red grapes, the rite of overnight racking is performed, followed by gentle pressing. The wine then spends time fermenting and aging in stainless steel. It retails for around SRP $10​.

Valtènesi Chiaretto has its roots in an 1885 love story between a noblewoman from Garda, Amalia Brunati, and a Venetian Senator Pompeo Molmenti. They two were married but it was his travels that created Chiaretto. The story goes that he learned Rosé wine-making during his travels in France. He brought it to this area and created this method for producing Chiaretto in Moniga, in the Valtènesi area, in 1896 during one evening.

Andrea Pasini founded the Azienda Agricola Pasini San Giovani winery in 1958. Their vineyards are at 148 meters above sea level. Today the third generation is running it. Their wines have been organic wines since 2014. They are very attentive to their carbon footprint, and have been measuring it since 2009. They grow grass between the vines and the biodiversity in the vineyards is evident.

I first tried this wine at Vinitaly this past year as I was looking for a Chiaretto for my Lombardy tasting for the Society of Wine Educators conference. It has good acidity and minerality and is very food friendly. The wine can be released on San Valentine’s day following the harvest. Chiaretto has been around a long time and the area is part of the Consorzio Valtènesi. This consortium which changed it’s name last year promotes and protects the wines from Valtènesi Doc, Garda, Garda Classico Doc, Riviera Del Garda Bresciano or Garda Bresciano Doc, San Martino della Battaglia Doc, and Benaco Bresciano Igt. Chiaretto is coming back as the rosé category becomes ever more popular. Valtenesi Chiaretto is a small DOC but is gaining in traction and I can certainly see why. I hope to see more of it on our shores. It became a DOC in 1967.

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