Uncovering Corvina With Vigneti Villabella

Food and Wine at Villa Cordevigo

Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo
Tiziano Delibori and
Franco Cristoforetti (President of Consorzio)

In an attempt to further kick off our discovery of Chiaretto, the Consorzio Di Tutela Vino Bardolino facilitated a ‘light lunch’ followed by a Corvina wine tasting.  Our lunch took place at Villa Cordevigo located in Cavaion Veronese, the heart of Bardolino Classico, on the east side of Lake Garda. Villa Cordevigo is an enchanting eighteenth century manor house offering accommodations complete with vineyards, olive groves and a chapel. The Villa also promotes the estates’ wines. Vigneti Villabella, the estate winery, was founded in 1971 by Walter Delibori and Giorgio Cristoforetti. Today, both families still own and run the Winery and Villa. Franco Cristoforetti, is actually the President of the Consorzio Di Tutela Vino Bardolino, so we were in for a real treat. In fact, they could have locked me up and kept me there if they so desired. According to its owners, the villa, which was acquired in 1998, is “a viticultural and natural oasis that is organically farmed. Here we have sought to preserve the genius loci of the countryside that surrounds the Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais.” Villa Cordevigo is magnificent and is the very essence of what happens when a French chateau and Italian villa meet.   

Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Gardens
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Rooms
The Pool at Villa Cordevigo
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Park
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Vineyards

Now, let us discuss the Italian “light lunch.”  I must say that a “light lunch” in Italy is never a light lunch. I suppose it could have been light, but I just kept eating. No regrets. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the spread set before me. No complaints. 

After our tour of Villa Cordevigo, it was time to manga! Lunch was replete with charcuterie, salads, breads, cheeses, soup and pasta. Delicious pasta that prepared by artisans that just compelled me to eat more and more. No regrets. No complaints. Bliss. Satiation. Moreover, this was when I had my first experience with a Chiaretto Spumante, and I enjoyed it this immensely. Villabella Bardolino Chiaretto Spumante DOC is obtained by traditional vinification of the indigenous Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes a brief maceration on the skins, followed by a long, slow fermentation. The Martinotti method is used for this 12% ABV cuvee. These bubbles have a delicate bouquet of strawberries, wild flowers and cherries on the nose, yet it was juicy, creamy and full-bodied on the palate. Villabella’s Spumante is fantastic alone, as an aperitif or with a variety of fish and seafood dishes.  It was yummy, so I had it throughout lunch, with everything! 

Following this awesome lunch that was fit for a queen, I sat down for a wine tasting of their  Vigneti Villabella estate wines.?Villabella wines are sourced from grapes grown around Bardolino and in each of the five Valpolicella communes. The combination of the stony and calcareous morainic soil and climate, due to its proximity to Lake Garda, yields more fresh and fruity wines. This is a prime location, as they are influenced by the circles of morainic hills. Vigneti Villabella produces all of the major regional wines, such as Chiaretto, Bardolino, Lugana, Custoza, Soave, Valpolicella (Ripasso and Amarone) and other Veronese IGT wines. I was able to sample a few of these, providing a nice overview of the wine region. However, the focus of this wine tasting was on the Corvina grape.  Corvina is the primary grape used in Chiaretto, the dry Italian rosé.  

Here are the wines I tasted:
Villa Cordevigo Bardolino Chiaretto DOC Classico Biologico 2016
The organic Bardolino Chiaretto Classico is produced with 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella grapes. Chiaretto is traditionally made, as are most rosé or skin-fermented wines, by macerating on the skins for a one night.  However, now Chiaretto is produced with just a few hours maceration, in order to extract a very light color. The cold fermentation serves to enhance the expression of the wine’s fruity and floral aromas. Bardolino Chiaretto Classico is pale pink with floral and citrus notes on the nose. The palate embodies freshness and minerality due to the morainic soils. Initially, the acidity is high, but the finish is dry and refreshing. Although the producers state that the wine should preferably be drunk within a year of the vintage, this wine does have aging potential. Chiaretto di Bardolino is bottled while young and usually released and presented in March. 12% ABV.

Villa Cordevigo Heaven Scent Bardolino Chiaretto DOC 2016
Heaven Scent is made from 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella grapes in mostly clay, morainic soil. The grapes are expertly harvested at the right time to ensure the right acidity and sugar, making this wine very well balanced. Its logo is even celestial-like to further convey its message and have international appeal. Named appropriately for the heaven-like place in which it was produced and the heavenly taste on the palate, Heaven Scent bears some similarity to the Chiaretto DOC, yet it is different. It is an intense peach pink with citrus and floral notes on the nose. The palate is young, fruity with good acidity, sapidity and round finish. 12% ABV.

Villa Cordevigo Bardolino DOC Classico Biologico 2015

The Bardolino Classico Biologico is a red wine produced from Corvina 70%, Rondinella 20%, Corvinone 10% organically-grown grapes from the pebbly clay soil of the Villa Cordevigo estate vineyards in Cavaion Veronese.  This wine undergoes fermentation and skin-contact maceration for 10 days and is then allowed to mature for one year in stainless steel tanks.  Bardolino Classico is aged in cool temps to preserve the fruit and freshness. I found this all very interesting, to be able to experience a red wine aged in stainless steel as opposed to oak. A light, ruby red in color with elegant aromas of violet and cherries. The palate was smooth and tangy with notes of bright red fruit, black pepper and clove. This is a classic, easy-drinking Bardolino wine that demonstrates its versatility and aging potential.  This particular varietal can be aged for 5-6 years. 

Vigna Morlongo Bardolino DOC Classico Anniversario 2013 & 2014

This fragrant red wine is made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione grapes from clay soil mixed with limestone.  It is aged in cool temperatures to preserve the fruit and freshness.  The wine matures in large oak casks.  Bright ruby, with a delicate bouquet of cherries, strawberries and red currants on the nose and spicy raspberry and cherry on the palate.  Dry, round, fresh and balanced. 13% ABV. This tasty wine is a winner of Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri Award.  

Villa Cordevigo Rosso IGT Veronese 2010

This delicious dry red red is made from 65% Corvina, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot 15% grapes, all grown in clay soil mixed with pebbles. After a late harvest, the grapes are dried briefly using the traditional technique employed in the Province of Verona.  The Rosso marked the first wine, of many, made from dried grapes tasted on this tour.  Next is maceration on the skins for 10-14 days at a controlled temperature to extract the wine’s ripe fruit aromas and flavors.  The wine is then aged for 30 months in cherry wood casks and tonneaux and at least 6 months more in the bottle. 

This awesome Rosso IGT is deep garnet to the eye and very aromatic.  Intense wild berries and tobacco on the nose, with dark, rich cherry and berry fruit on the palate.  This wine has smooth tannins and a long finish.  Sexy and seductive.  15% ABV. Balance was the goal for this wine, and it was certainly achieved. This wine is definitely one for my cellar, as it displays power and strength, along with excellent fruit flavor. Villa Cordevigo Rosso is absolutely a winner.  
Oseleta Rosso Veronese IGT 2007

This Rosso IGT wine is made from 100% Oseleta grapes grown in pebbly clay morainic soil.  Oseleta, which means “little bird” in the Venetian dialect, is an indigenous Veronese grape variety with small bunches that are particularly suited to undergoing the appassimento technique. Oseleta, thought to have been extinct, is related to Corvina Veronese and Rondinella and is making a huge comeback. After the drying of the grapes, fermentation and maceration, Oseleta Rosso is allowed to mature for 36 months in wood, barriques and tonneaux. The color, a deep purplish ruby, is mesmerizing. The nose is fruity and spicy, while it is very tannic on the palate. 14.5% ABV. 2007 was the first vintage produced, and although it has been aging, it is still a great candidate for more maturing. I tasted this wine solo, but would love to taste it again with a juicy steak, mature cheese or rich pasta in a tomato-based sauce.

Oseleta Grapes

Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2010

This bottle certainly presents another side of Corvina. It is produced with 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione from soil of limestone mixed with clay.  The grapes are sourced from each of the five Valpolicella communes  (Furmane, Marano, Negrar, San Pietro Incariano and Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella) and are produced with the ripassimento method, undergoing a second fermentation with dried grapes. This lends itself to a richer wine. Initial green almond and peppercorn spices on the nose, later opens up to notes of cherry and plum. The palate rich strawberry, black cherry cinnemon and carob. 14% ABV and not as big as Amarone, yet a palate-pleaser all the same. This Valpolicella Ripasso was a delicious ‘baby Amarone.’

Fracastoro Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico Riserva 2007

Again, I was able to see a marked difference in the regions of Bardolino and Valpolicella. Fracastoro, named after the Italian physician, poet, and scholar in mathematics, geography and astronomy (Girolamo Fracastoro) who lived in Lake Garda region, is also made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione from limestone and stony clay soil in the Valpolicella Classico area. According to the the owners, climate change is having a huge impact on the vinification process.  The traditional ripasso technique of a second fermentation on the skins of the dried grapes sometimes occurs in 80-90 days, less than the regular 120. Following, a portion of the wines mature in traditional Slavonian oak casks and the rest in small Allier oak barrels. 
The resulting wine gain greater body, structure, and complexity.  The Monte Baldo winds lead to low temperatures which is good for the aromas, and this wine is absolutely aromatic.  A deep, brilliant garnet red appearance and an intense nose of black cherries, fig, brown sugar  and tobacco.  The palate is warm, dry, smooth and well-structured.  I loved the balance of fruit and spice in this Amarone as it went down.  Lingering finish and 15.5 % ABV.  Villabella Amarone Classico is elegant and drinkable, but it could certainly be aged.
My time at Villa Cordevigo tasting Vigneti Villabella wines was both well spent and appreciated.  It was a perfect way to learn more about the Corvina grape and its role in many of the regional wines.  The lunch was excellent too!

Should you find yourself in Verona or around Lake Garda, be sure to visit Villa Cordevigo and taste the wines of Vigneti Villabella.  Read more about The Lake Effect: Lake Garda’s Impact on the wines of the region.

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