There is value almost everywhere you look if you know how to spot it. In this case, value lies in the unheralded agricultural region on the glacial morainic slopes of Lake Garda, in the Valtènesi sub-zone distinguished by superior exposure to the sun and moderating breezes from the lake. It is there that Gianfranco Comincioli is producing wines of incomparable expression at Azienda Agricola Comincioli.
Along with his wife Elisabetta and sons Roberto and Andrea, 13th generation farmer Gianfranco presides over 27 acres of vineyard and 24 acres of olive groves. Indeed, it is for the amazing (if somewhat controversial) olive oilsfor which Comincioli is most well-known. But the wines are made with the same painstaking care as the oil — soaked in a philosophy based on an unwavering respect for traditions and the environment. Gianfranco and family are dedicated to not only preserving their region’s indigenous grape varieties but to use them to produce wines of the utmost quality. Wines of terroir.
Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)
~$22/bottle Comincioli “Riviera” (Riviera del Garda Bresciano 2011) RED
It is a rare thing to find a wine of this maturity at this price. Drinking at its peak right now, the cuvée “Riviera” is based on 60% of the native Groppello variety with the remainder a blend of Sangiovese, Marzemino, and Barbera. The wine is aged for 24 months in stainless steel tanks, 30 months in oak casks, and then another 6 months minimum in bottle before release. Full of juicy red and black berries with intoxicating floral and spice aromatics, it’s reminiscent of the Valpolicella Ripasso from the other side of Lake Garda but with a vibe all its own. It’s ideal balance will pair beautifully with most classic Italian pasta dishes or simply a group of good friends.
~$22/bottle Comincioli “Diamante” (Riviera del Garda Bresciano 2016) ROSÉ
A rosé with a little more sap than the typical light and airy numbers made only for summer drinking. The cuvée “Diamante” is mainly produced from the native grape of Groppello (80%) with the remainder a blend of Barbera, Sangiovese, and Marzemino. A brief contact on these “black grape” skins results in a wine of ideal balance with aromatics of rose, alpine strawberry, and pomegranate. Vinification and aging in stainless steel tanks keeps the wine crisp and refreshing without being simple. This is a wine to pair with everything from spicy seafood dishes to pizza to lamburgers.
~$24/bottle Comincioli “Perlì” (Vino Da Tavola 2016) WHITE
The only reason this elegant white is declassified into the humble status of table wine is because Gianfranco has produced it using only the local indigenous varieties of Trebbiano Valtènesi and Erbamat, both grapes that are not allowed under DOC regulations but were introduced from obscurity into the Comincioli vineyards 30 years ago. One sip of its concentrated fruit and bracing minerality is enough to prove its bona fides as a wine of distinction and longevity. All the citrus, floral, and woodspice aromatics will curl your eyebrows. Fans of Sancerre will particularly enjoy this wine. Only 6,000 bottles produced.
~$58/bottle Comincioli “Suler” (Riviera del Garda Bresciano 2011) red
Valpolicella is on the other side of Lake Garda from Comincioli and is world famous for the production of Amarone in the “appassimento” style of drying the grapes before vinification to concentrate the fruit’s sugars and flavors. This regional style is uniquely conveyed in the cuvée “Suler.” A mix of Sangiovese, Marzemino, Groppello, and Barbera grapes are placed in shallow, ventilated crates for a period of 20-30 days. After aging for 24 months in stainless steel tanks, 30 months in oak casks, and then another 18 months minimum in bottle, “Suler” delivers with the weight and concentration of big, ripe fruit that Amarone lovers cherish with the aromatics and flavors exclusive of Valtènesi.