The hilly arch that encloses Lake Garda in the south-western area, from Desenzano to Salò, is part of the DOC Riviera del Garda Classico and the central part closest to the lake is also in the Valtenesi DOC.
Here the representative wine is the Chiaretto Riviera del Garda Classico. This is a rosé wine with delicate colour, dry and savoury flavour given by the mineral richness of the morainic soils. Chiaretto, whose birth dates back to the Middle Ages, was one of the first wines of the lake to be marketed even outside its production area, especially in Milan. The typical colour of this wine is obtained from red grapes (Groppello from 30% to 100%, Marzemino, Barbera, Sangiovese, each for a maximum of 25% plus any other typical grapes of the region for a maximum of 25%) with a short cold maceration in steel vats so that the low temperature and the scarcity of air limit the oxidative phenomena.
Chiaretto is a young wine, usually bottled between late January and early February after about four months of ageing in steel. Lately, following the growing trend of the sparkling wine market, a sparkling version is spreading, both in the Classic and Charmant method. In this case, it is no longer called Chiaretto but Rosè.
At the end of spring, in Moniga, there is held “Italia in Rosa”, an important event dedicated to rosé wines
With the same blend of Chiaretto, are also vinified two red wines, the Riviera del Garda Classico Rosso and the Riviera del Garda Classico Rosso Superiore. In the case of Rosso, after pressing, the must remains for about a week in maceration and then separated from the skins to end fermentation. Ageing of about six months, partly in steel and partly in oak barrels, leads to the bottling at the beginning of summer. As for Rosso Superiore, a longer maceration gives the wine more body and makes it suitable for long ageing.
Groppello grapes, a local variety characterized by small compact bunches, has always given a delicate and light coloured must and for this reason, traditionally it had always been used either for Rosé wine or as a cut in combination with grapes with a more marked flavour and colour. During the last century was given greater prominence to this indigenous grape variety which, being grown only on the western shore of the lake, was a clear expression of local viticulture. Lately, some wineries have started to vinify Groppello grapes, especially in the Gentile variant, in purity obtaining a light wine low in tannins, delicate and elegant.
In this DOC area is vinified also a white wine with Riesling and Chardonnay vines, but the proximity to the DOC Lugana area, whose wine, in recent years, has become the white wine par excellence of Lake Garda, has led the winemakers to neglect a little the other white grapes while investing in the purchase of vineyards in the Lugana area.