Italian road trip 2016: at the home of the Friars

Our trip had already been unbelievable… we had visited some great vineyards we, had some great food and had been very lucky with the weather as well 🙂 Travelling when the sun shines makes a trip much nicer. As if we ordered it, the sun was heating and more present on white wine Saturday than it was the other days!  So visiting a vineyard a stone’s throw away from the Garda lake was perfect, add great white wine to that and you have a perfect holiday 🙂 Coincidentally the vineyard we were visiting that morning had lots of great white wines 🙂 LUCKY US 😉

Ca dei Frati near Garda lake

When you visit a vineyard you always have some wines you prefer over others. It doesn’t mean those wines you don’t like are bad, they are just not how you prefer your wines to be…  If I tell you that we took home at least 1 bottle from every wine in the assortment from the Ca’ dei Frati vineyard…what does that tell you? Yes, in first place that our character or intention to buy less wine was out of the window. Also that my car has a big trunk, but also that all wines we tasted were our thing :-). For both of us (Carlos and me), so I consider this something quite rare 🙂

Ca’ dei Frati is as I mentioned before only a stone’s throw away from the Garda lake or from a town called Sirmione (I always remember Sirmione as the Garda Lake town with the Castle :-)) . That first bottle of Frati by ca dei Frati I had a few years ago at the Pazzo winebar with my dad left a big impression with us… ever since that day I had put the Ca’ dei Frati vineyard on my ‘to-do’ list if I was ever in the neighborhood… now, a few years later that moment had finally come. It was the Stefano (husband of the founder’s daughter and responsible for export) who showed us around the estate accompanied by his 2 year old son who insisted to come along 🙂 he reminded me a lot of my sweet little baby girl as they share the same big appetite 🙂 FYI, I know that you might say she inherited that from her dad, but at that age I was a very bad eater! It was only at the age of 12 when going to the chef school the tide had turned and I never looked back 😉

Ca dei Frati estate 1 Ca dei Frati estate 2 Ca dei Frati estate 4

I’m wondering off here… back to Ca’ dei Frati. You might have guessed the winery has something to do with ‘Friars’? You have guessed correctly as the winery used to be ‘Casa dei Frati’ or Home of the Friars in English. In documents from the 18th century the Del Cere Family (who owns the property since 1939) has found there is told that the home that is now the Ca’ dei Frati vineyard already had a wine cellar back then and that it was owned by Friars. It was only in 1939 that the wine estate was founded by Felice Dal Cero, the current owner’s grandfather who left the company to his son Pietro around 1969.  It was Pietro who actually made the Ca’ dei Frati estate world famous and expanded from 12ha to over 100ha 🙂 So you could definitely speak about an expansion and growth.  Since 2012 after Pietro’s passing away it are his 2 sons and daughter (and their families)that carry on the family tradition and legacy. The estate also keeps growing and modernizing…

Ca dei Frati estate 9 Ca dei Frati estate 8

Ca dei Frati estate 7

Ca dei Frati estate 6 Ca dei Frati estate 5 Ca dei Frati estate 3

Unlike lots of people might think, the vineyard is located in the Italian region Lomardy and not Veneto… but I admit it’s a close call is they are really at the border of both regions.  The vineyards themselves are among the best in the region (as the estate was on the first in the area), on limestone silt soils at the southern part of the Garda lake rich in mineral salts which help the fruit to reach high levels of ripeness. It really gives beautiful wines as a result.

90% of the wine production at Ca’ dei frati is white wines with exception of 2 red wines and 2 rosé wines. The story behind 1 of the 2 reds is special because it is a tribute to Pietro! Not just any wine, an Amarone. Yes, An Amarone! The Amarone gets cultivated (as it is dictated by the DOCG and with the allowed grapes:  Corvina, Corvinone, rondinella and Croatina) in the Valpolicella area. In reality it was Pietro’s project to go back to his ‘radici’ (roots –  as het originates from the Valpolicella region where his grandfather was a winemaker), unfortunately didn’t make it to see his ‘baby’ grow and meet the world. This is why the family decided to finish this wine and make it as a tribute. A success I might add (beautiful product)! The Pietro Dal Cero Amarone had quit the rest before it was sold (2008 it the first edition of this wine that is currently sold) 24months in a barrel, 12months in stainless steel  and 24months in its bottle. Patience is again the keyword here…

Amarone Pietre del cero

For the white wines their most well-known wine is without any doubt the Lugana.  Lugana is made with the Turbiano grape (aka Trebbiano di Lugana) which is  the essential ingredient for white wines in the region.  According to regulations a Lugana can only be names Lugana when it at least holts 90% of the Turbiano grape. They are characterized by their freshness , fruit concentration, underlying floral and spice notes, and delicate acidity.  Or basically a pleasure for the nose and taste buds.  Ca’ dei Frati has 2 different Lugana wines: Frati and Brolettino. FYI The Brolettino was in 2014 in the list of 50 best wines from Decanter. The only difference between the 2 is that one (Frati) was only in stainless steel and the other (Brolettino) stayed 10months in barriques and 3 more months on bottle.  I wouldn’t really see one is better, as they both have different characteristics, both very rich wines.  On the nose there were intense aromas of lime, white flowers, almonds and green apple… at taste there are the nice minerals and the green apples 🙂 FYI, it was actually the Frati I had that night at Pazzo and also the first bottle I opened when I came home from this trip 🙂 .

Frati

When looking at the grapes used in their other wines,  both the still as the sparkling, I noticed Ca’ dei Frati also uses Sangiovese and Barbera grapes in their wines… this is the second time on this trip I learn that in Veneto and Lombardy these grapes  are used to blend.  They obviously do enrich the wines. The Sangiovese is used for the other red wine from the Ca’ dei Frati estate  (Ronchedone), but more surprisingly also for the Rosé wines (from which 1 is still and the other sparkling). For the Rosa dei Frati and the Cuvée which is the rosé sparkling wine they blend Sangiovese with Barbera, Groppello and Marzemino . The first thing that came to mind when having a taste of this wine “this would be something for my wife” :-)… how dare she tell me I only think of myself during my winetrips :-)Rosa dei Frati has notes of  green apple, wild cherry and white almond. In the mouth it immediately shows authority… it keeps it fresh and delicate thanks to a pleasant acidity that points out the carefree ease of drinking 🙂  but at the same time robust and capable of being elected the versatile star of the table!! Need I say more? Basically a bottle that can become everybody’s friend 😉 (the same goes for the Cuvée by the way that adds a bubble 🙂 🙂 (I know to much smiley’s, but that’s the way it is)

Rosé ca dei Frati

Again a very unforgettable experience where we learned a lot and can’t wait to visit the vineyards again when their renovations are finished as they were already very impressive now that they were not finished yet.

Up to the last vineyard of our trip 😦 Up to our friends of Sandro de Bruno

For more information or to purchase Ca’dei Frati wines in Belgium please contact Non solo vino. For other countries please check with the wine estate itself.

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