These Corvinas are amazing wines, impossibly full of flavor in a delicate package, Alpine-shrill and Veneto-round, they pack SO MUCH GOOD STUFF into an inexpensive bottle nearly unknown in the United States. This particular organic, native-yeast one is ridiculously Grenache-like in appearance, smell and taste. An easy garnet lightness with a rosy core fills the glass. Full, ripe cherry in the nose, savory and bruised, tapenade glow and smoky vegetal impossible to ignore. Chalky and dry, it exposes the vivid berry with a blast of acid.

Tasting reveals even more excuses to love it. The thin, light entry drives an unbelievable amount of fruit onto the palate. Raspberry, plum and strawberry tainted ever-so-slightly with grimy earth and nearly obfuscated with grapefruit minerality. Gloriously bitter tannin presents itself early, an easy morph from the grimy, acidic berry.

The governing authority driving a modern change to Bardolino and establishing the Bardolino Crus is specifying changes in vinification and marketing that mean business and intend to change the identity of the region far away from the “mass-produced unsophisticated wines” and “the most pedestrian wines in Italy” and “huge quantities of forgettable plonk” classic mentality. And yes, those are more-or-less DIRECT QUOTES from several books on my shelf. Strict guidelines limiting or prohibiting extended macerations, barrel-aging and obtuse alcohols are levied upon its members. Even the color of the rosé (called Chairetto) is monitored–in a true hat-tip to the wine 1 percent–and effusively pink versions are eliminated. They are even lobbying to get the Rondinella quotient required by law reduced or eliminated. And when I visited the region, I naturally went to shops and markets and found many of the wines these books refer to, and the differences in quality are obvious. 13.5… 14… 14.5, awkwardly oaked, cloyingly concentrated and glaringly manipulated, they are in stark contrast to the Bardolino Cru members’ wines, where freshness, vitality, and naturalness just explodes from the bottle. These are the wines the geeks have been begging for for years and I am happy to see them finally popping up in the US.

2018 POGGIO delle GRAZIE Corvina/Rondinella 80/20 La Rocca Bardolino DOC Veneto Italy 12.5

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