Ca Dei Frati Ronchedone Vino Rosso 2016  £29.95

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The Dal Cero family has transformed their Ca' dei Frati property, situated on the southern shores of Lake Garda, into a model Italian estate over the past two decades. Back in 1987, they had 12 hectares of vineyard but now, following the purchase of a large chunk of prime vineyard in 2008, they have over 160 hectares. This increase in quantity has been matched by an increase in quality and today they remain the best producer in Lugana.

Marzemino is an indigenous variety grown mostly in northern Italy making up the most of the Ronchedone blend, with a touch of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The result is ripe fruit notes intertwined with balsam and woody herbs. 

The grapes are grown in the Dal Cero family's own vineyards, Ronchedone and La Tür, which are located on the south banks of Lake Garda near the town of Sirmione. The vines for 'Ronchedone' are planted on chalky, limey and sandy clay soils, using single Guyot and cordon training. The yields were eight tonnes per hectare.

2016 swaw high rainfall in early spring which impacted flowering and increased the disease pressure in the vineyard. However, it also provided good water reserves in the soil to help the vines through the relatively dry and warm summer. Although yields in the region were lower than normal, the quality of the fruit harvested was high.

The grapes underwent a prolonged maceration in stainless-steel tanks before fermentation. The wine was then transferred to barriques for malolactic fermentation and aged for 14 months. This was followed by a further 10 months in bottle prior to release.

This is a deep, dark wine showing a vibrant, fruit-forward bouquet with aromas of ripe blueberries, freshly-made jam, a touch of balsam and some herbal notes which follow through to the palate. Savoury characters are balanced with rounded tannins and a freshness on the finish which is typical of the area.

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