‘Le Fraghe Bardolino (Wild Strawberries)’ Review by Larisa Code

Wine of the Month
Larisa Code

Featured Wine: Le Fraghe Bardolino (Wild Strawberries)  
Denominazione di Origine Controllata
Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti (FIVI) 
Grape Variety: 80% Corvina 20% Rondinella
Region: Verona
Country: Italy
Vintage: 2020
Certified Organic
Vinification: The grapes are harvested in October. The two grape varieties are vinified separately. Maceration lasts 7-8 days and coincides with fermentation. The grapes are managed daily: delestage* in the morning and a pump over in the evening. 
Aging: After the wine is drawn it goes through malolactic fermentation and is then moved to stainless steel tanks until spring when it is bottled.
Color: Light Ruby Red with a Purple Hue
Price: Under $20

I have an absolutely delectable wine for you this month; Le Fraghe Bardolino is nothing but exquisitely, gorgeously yummy. 

Bardolino is this beautiful lighter red specialty wine that originates from North Eastern Italy and dates back 2000 years. There are strict rules when it comes to making Bardolino; the grapes must be 35%-80% Corvina and 10%-40% must be Rondinella. The great news is, Matilde Poggi has come up with a wonderful and rather perfect combination that makes this wine truly lovely; one of the best examples of a Bardolino I’ve ever had, especially considering the price. Bardolino wines are best in the first three years of bottling. The fact that Poggi uses delestage is another indicator that this wine is meant to have sooner rather than later.

And yes, this winery is owned and operated by a woman; you might not think that is such a big deal, but it is. Winemaking and pretty much anything to do with wine is male dominated. To top it off, Matilde Poggi started running this vineyard in 1984, when it was extremely unusual for a woman to make wine. 

If you look at the neck of the bottle, right below the cap, you will see the small logo of a person with a basket of grapes on their head and a wine bottle. This represents FIVI, the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers. This logo lets you know that the entire wine making process (from growing all the way to selling) was done on site. No outsourcing. When you see the FIVI logo, it is a strong indicator that in most cases, the vineyard is cultivating sustainably and organically. To understand how special being a member of FIVI is, you should know that there are only 900 members in all of Italy (out of 310,000 total wineries in Italy). 

It is recommended to give this wine a slight chill and serve it at 59 degrees Fahrenheit; that is ideal. Any cooler and you will lose some of the exquisite flavors and nuances. Before you even open the bottle, you can see that the color is unique for a red wine. Pour yourself a glass and enjoy the color, hold it up to the light, swirl it around, it is going to entice you, but be patient as the aroma is worth checking out; the nose immerses you in the warm spices of pepper and cinnamon, along with a touch of tobacco, blueberry, sour cherry and strawberry. Take a sip and immediately welcome the flavors of blueberry, white pepper, black pepper, tart cherry, cinnamon and tobacco which are all embraced by medium tannins and medium acidity. The finish is long and dry with hints of tobacco and tart cherry lingering. 

Le Fraghe Bardolino is a great wine to introduce to someone who needs to branch out in the wine department. I have a friend who will only drink Rose’. This would be a beautiful compromise. Although Bardolino wines aren’t as fruit forward as many Rose’ wines, I believe there is enough fruit in Le Fraghe, from the 80% Corvina grape as well as the use of delestage, to satisfy even my unwavering friend. 

This light and gorgeous Bardolino pairs perfectly with a lazy, late afternoon – no food needed; yet, I am usually thirsty AND hungry! With four feet of snow outside, I settled for two wonderful pairings that I enjoyed indoors and due to the weather, alone -sigh-. The first meal I prepared was a spicy and light Nigerian stew, the sauce being primarily made of tomatoes and roasted peppers (including spicy Scotch Bonnet peppers). It was a wonderful pairing. Le Fraghe Bardolino is really right for spicy food, not only does the subtle fruit help ease the spice’s burn and enhance the flavors. Even if you need to take extra sips to cool the burn, don’t worry, this is low in alcohol, 12%. My final pairing was grilled chicken, rice and salad. I loved it. I loved it because the wine took this simple meal and turned it into an experience of delight; the flavors of the food melding exquisitely with the spice and fruit of the wine, the tannins and acid making everything delicious about the meal expand. This is why I love pairing wine with my meals so very much, even a less than exciting meal can be brought to new heights as the wine enhances the flavors as well as the overall ambience. 

It’s February, Valentine’s Day is upon us, you are being introduced to a beautiful wine made in Verona, a city that should inspire thoughts of romance in your heart. Le Fraghe Bardolino will assist; ignite romance, pleasure and curiosity in you. To top it off, it is worth far more than its price tag, it’s a steal. To be given the gift of an organic, FIVI certified wine that is so satisfying for under $20, well, you just gotta do it; I must insist that you explore this wine.

Cin Cin!

*delestage is a fermentation and maceration technique that gently extracts phenolic compounds by oxygenating the juice, which produces a softer, less astringent wine with more fruit character