One comes across wineries in many ways. I was much impressed by the Azienda Agricola Costadoro's Bardolino Chiaretto Spumante at the Bardolino presentation this winter, and when I had to go to Bardolino for a weekend this spring discovered they have an Agriturismo and stayed there. It's quite nice -- towards the top of the hill overlooking Bardolino, with a beautiful view of Lake Garda -- and there's a pool too, though it wasn't warm enough when I was there to make swimming attractive.
Costadoro is very much a family business, with Valentino Lonardi handling the winemaking, while his wife oversees the Agriturismo. And, to round out the picture, their relatives run the Ristorante Costadoro, which we much enjoyed.
Bottom line: If you visit Lake Garda, the Agriturismo Costadoro is an excellent place to stay, and you will likely find yourself rearranging your bags before you depart to make room for some wine.
Finding Costadoro beyond Bardolino will be a bit more difficult, though the winery is listed on Snooth. It is well worth looking for.
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Garda Garnega DOC 2009 Lot 20-335 Lively straw yellow with brilliant highlights and white rim. The bouquet is fresh and vinous, with lively slightly brambly heather and dried hay supported by lively mineral acidity. Refreshing in a direct, up front key, On the palate it's bright, with lively lemony fruit supported by some bitter mineral acidity that flows into a fairly long bitter mineral finish that gains depth from savory overtones. Pleasant, and an ideal summer wine that will work very well with quickly cooked fish or white meats, fried fish or meats, and also with pasta salads or summer pasta dishes, for example spaghetti al pesto. In short, versatile, and it will go quickly. 2 stars
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Garda Cortese DOC 2009 Lot 20-032 Brassy yellow with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, and frairl rich, with honeysuckle and tangerine mingled with underlying clover honey; it's fairly opulent. On the palate it's ample, in a rather languid key, with honey-laced white berry fruit supported by citric acidity and slight peppery notes that provide a counterpoint to the richness of the fruit and help keep it in line, flowing into a clean rather languid finish. Pleasant in a softer key than the Garganega, and will work better with more delicate dishes, along the lines of steamed fish, and I might also be tempted to serve it with delicate vegetable based egg dishes, for example a zucchini frittata. Given its languidity it will also be nice with mildly spiced Oriental dishes for example those from Canton. 2 stars
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2009 Lot 20-336 Pale salmon with brilliant electric pink-salmon reflections. The bouquet is rich, with lively sour strawberry fruit supported by some heather and pleasant berry fruit acidity. Quite refreshing, and invites another sniff. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich cherry strawberry fruit supported by moderately intense slightly brambly sour cherry acidity, and by light dusky tannins that have a very slight burr, and flow into a clean rather bright sour berry fruit finish with heather more than bramble overtones. Quite nice and will be a perfect cookout or picnic wine, and will also work well indoors with pasta salads, and other simple dishes along those lines. Or burgers; there's also a degree of languidity to it -- the acidity isn't exaggerated -- and because of this I would think to serve it with more spiced oriental dishes, say Hunaan Chinese or Thai, because there aren't the strong tannins of a red to clash with the spices. Worth seeking out -- it has improved since I tested it this winter -- and expect it to go quickly. 2 stars
Costadoro Bardolino Chiaretto Spumante DOC 2009 Pale salmon with salmon reflections and brilliant salmon reflections and fine white perlage. The bouquet is muted, an effect of recent bottling, though swishing brings up floral accents and slight berry fruit. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich savory berry fruit supported by clean bright acidity and spice; a fellow taster also finds mustard, which is there, and works very well, adding brightness and uplifting (as she says) the fruit . Quite pleasant, and when the nose has caught up with the palate (by June 2010) it will be perfect for a picnic or cookout, and also nice with summer foods enjoyed indoors. Worth seeking out. 88-90
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Lonardi Vino Spumante di Qualità Metodo Classico Chiaretto Demi Sec DOC Non Vintage; disgorged 2010 Elegant salmon with fine persistent perlage. The bouquet is fairly rich, with heather-laced sour cherry and raspberry fruit supported by some sweetness and berry fruit acidity. Nice balance. On the palate it's full and rich, with clean sour raspberry fruit supported by bright acidity, and by the sparkle, which brings considerable creaminess into the picture, and it all flows into a clean bright sour raspberry finish with underlying savory accents that emerge as the acidity fades. To be quite honest, the acidity is such that had I not read the label I would not have guessed it was a demi sec; it seems considerably drier, and will work very well with foods, ranging from creamy fish or vegetable-based risotti though grilled fish, and will also work nicely as an aperitif if you are so inclined. Impressive, and well worth seeking out. 90-91
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Bardolino Classico Novello DOC 2009 Lot 19-302 Novelli are intended to be drunk young, in the first few months following the harvest, so this is by now older than one would normally expect of a Novello, but Valentino gave me a bottle to see how it has held up. It's dusky cherry ruby with black reflections, and has a classic Novello nose,with ith the candied berry fruit that comes from carbonic maceration, supported by considerable sandalwood nutmeg spice that is, I think, something that has developed with time, because the dominant aspect of a young Novello nose is fruit, and with more swishing dusky bitter graphite accents also emerge. Quite alive, in any case. On the palate it's light, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit that has some floral accents -- it brings hyacinths to mind -- supported by sour berry fruit acidity and very smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean rather sour berry fruit finish that gins depth from a sweetish underpinning and vegetal accents. It has held up very well, and though it is no longer what one expects of a Novello, will still drink nicely now at a cookout featuring simple white meats or burgers and such -- lightly chilled -- should you come across a bottle. I enjoyed it. 1 star
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Bardolino Classico DOC 2009 Lot 20-356 Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and rim paling to white. The bouquet is bright, with rich brambly cherry fruit supported by some sandalwood notes and some berry fruit spice; there is also dusky bitterness and very slight sweetness. On the palate it's light, with moderate berry fruit supported by light smooth tannins and fairly rich mineral acidity that gains depth from peppery accents and flow into a clean cherry finish with some underlying acidity. The palate isn't quite as rich as I had hoped from the nose, and this is also an effect of the 2009 vintage, which was more difficult than some; this said, it's a pleasant and quite versatile quaffing wine that will work very well with simple grilled meats along the lines of burgers or chicken, and also with the other fixings of a cookout, including pasta salads or creamy things such as potato salad. Expect the bottle to go quickly, and you will want another. 2 stars
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Broi Bardolino Classico DOC 2008 Lot 19-134 This is a vineyard selection, and has a pleasant hand-written label; in terms of aging it spends a year in steel. The wine is lively cherry ruby with brilliant ruby reflections and white rim. The bouquet is rich, and quite elegant, with berry fruit supported by fresh rich floral accents -- violets -- and hints of pomegranate; it's a distinct step up from the basic Bardolino, and while this is in part its being a vineyard selection, it's also the vintage, as 2008 was much better than 2009. On the palate it's ample, with rich cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by smooth tannins that do have some dusky bitter brambly accents that provide depth and vigor, and flow into a clean fresh dusky berry fruit finish that lasts considerably. Very pleasant, and will work quite well with grilled meats, light roasts, and I would also think about it in the context of roasted white meats with gravy -- turkey, for example -- that would be overcome by a richer, more tannic red. Worth seeking out. 88-90
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Bardolino Superiore Classico DOC 2007 Lot 19-224 This is, the label says, barrique aged; it's lively ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with berry fruit laced with vanilla and some dusky accents as well, and some underlying mineral acidity. Pleasant, because the fruit is there, but more brooding than the unoaked wines. On the palate it's medium bodied, ample and rich, with bright ripe cherry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly long sour berry fruit finish. The palate is brighter and richer than one would expect from the nose, and I found myself rather enjoying it; it will work well with grilled meats or light roasts, including creamier things along the lines of chicken pot pie, and it also has the acidity necessary to stand up to fried meats. I confess to having been doubtful at seeing the word barriques on the label, but was pleasantly surprised, because they support without impinging. Nicely done, and deft. 90
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Broi Bardolino Classico DOC 2007 Lot 19-204 This is, like the Superiore, aged in barriques, and says so on the label (which is not hand-written). It's deep cherry ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with berry fruit mingled with more pungent oak than is present in the Superiore, which to a degree overshadows the fruit, while there is also some peppery sandalwood spice. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense sour berry fruit supported by sour cherry acidity and tannins that have warm savory accents and a slight vanilla underpinning, though, as is the case with the Superiore, the oak is less evident on the nose than the palate. This wine is by comparison with the Superiore more acidic and slightly less concentrated in terms of fruit, which is more towards the sour end of the cherry spectrum, while the finish has sour cherry acidity and some sandalwood and is fairly long. It's a bit more traditional in feel than the Superiore, especially on the palate, and also a bit more aggressive; it's very much a food wine and will be nice with grilled meats, including heartier fare such as a Porterhouse steak, but you have to like the style. If you like smoother softer wines along the lines of Merlot, you will prefer the Superiore to this. If a zesty Barbera is instead your preference, this is right up your alley. 2 stars
Azienda Agricola Costadoro Bianco Polsà Vino Da Tavola Lot 19-201 This is a passito made from selected white grapes that are allowed to riposare, or rest. As is the case with the unoaked Broi, the label is hand-written. It's pale brassy yellow with brilliant faintly greenish brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is rich, with heather and honeysuckle mingled with sweetness -- not honey, but rather very ripe peach with a few mint leaves -- and a pleasant spicy airiness. On the palate it's full and quite sweet, with ample yellow peach and apricot fruit supported by considerable sweetness at the outset, which gives way to lively sour apricot acidity with some buttery accents, and flows into a long apricot acidity finish with some underlying minerality and brambly warmth. It's unusual, with acidity that brings the initial sweetness to heel and keeps the wine from being cloying, and this invites one to sip again. If you enjoy sweet wines you will enjoy it, because it has something to say and also works well with acidity, which is much more interesting that sweetness by itself. 90
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.