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Uncovering Custoza Wines with Monte del Frà

Our wine expert, Li Valentine, attended a tasting of the whites of Monte del Frà from the Custoza DOC in the Veneto and likes what she discovered.

Vintages of Monte del Fra Ca' del Magro Bianco di Custoza Superiore.

Vintages of Monte del Fra Ca’ del Magro Bianco di Custoza Superiore.

Are you up for trying a different, lesser-known Italian white wine in the New Year? 

Nestled in the Veneto region of northern Italy, Custoza is the lovely, picturesque village located in the municipality of Sommacompagna, province of Verona. It is renowned for its beautiful landscapes with rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves and its rich cultural heritage. Custoza is also the name of a dry, white wine varietal indigenous to the area. 

Custoza wine is produced within the Bianco di Custoza DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and is known for its light, crisp, and refreshing character. Custoza wines are typically a harmonious blend of different grape varieties, which may include Garganega, Trebbiano, and Chardonnay, among other native grapes. This blend contributes to the wine's aromatic profile, often featuring delicate floral notes, citrus flavors, and a pleasant acidity.

Custoza wines are usually enjoyed young and are known for their easy-drinking style and food-friendliness. They pair well with light appetizers, seafood, salads, and other dishes that complement their fresh and vibrant flavors. The terroir of the Custoza area, with its favorable climate and soil conditions, contributes to the high quality and distinct character of the Custoza wine. Today, there are approximately 480 producers of Custoza

I recently had the pleasure of attending Studio Cru’s, “Fruits and Flowers of Lake Garda” event, highlighting the fresh elegance from Custoza. The wines of Monte del Fra were presented by Marica Bonomo, who is a third-generation winemaker at her family’s vineyard in Veneto.

Marica Bonomo of Monte del Frà, a leading producer of Custoza wines in the Veneto.
Marica Bonomo of Monte del Frà, a leading producer of Custoza wines in the Veneto.

Monte del Frà, operated by the Bonomo family since 1958, has been dedicated to their land and to sustainable agriculture. The winery is part of the Custoza DOC wine appellation and is one of the larger producers in the area with vineyards in all of the main denominations of Verona (Valpolicella Classico, Lugana, Soave, and Bardolino), covering 137 properties and 68 leased hectares of vineyards.

In addition to learning about their history, sustainability efforts, production methods, and wines, we were able to taste a unique selection of Monte del Frà wines guided by Marica. We tasted the 2022, 2021, 2019, 2013, and 2008 vintages of Monte del Fra Ca' del Magro Bianco di Custoza Superiore. Despite the fact that they produce other wines and have other collections, this wine is their flagship, as it expresses the highest quality and is the best representation of Custoza and of Monte del Frà. In fact, this wine has consistently been awarded three stars by Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri (12 years) and it was also among the Top 100 Wines of 2021 according to Wine Spectator.

The wines of Monte Del Fra.

Ca' del Magro Custoza Superiore is produced with a blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscana, Cortesese, and Incrocio Manzoni, all indigenous grapes, cultivated in a single vineyard. While a regular Custoza Bianco is refreshing with vibrant citrus notes and crisp acidity, Custoza Superiore provides a more layered experience. These wines undergo extended aging, usually in cement vats, and are a good way to showcase the richer flavors of ripe stone fruits and floral aromas in Custoza. The calcareous, clayey, and morainic soils contribute a slightly mineral character and add complexity and depth to the wines. 

An intense straw yellow color in appearance, these wines have notes of tropical fruit, white flower, and saffron. They are light, pleasant, and extremely drinkable. Marica referred to Monte del Frà’s Custoza as “easy, but not stupid,” to express that they are light and flexible, yet high in quality and character.

The recent vintages were very fruity, young, and drinkable, while the older ones were more round and structured, demonstrating the great aging potential. It was evident that Custoza is versatile, as the crisp acidity would complement seafood and salad dishes, while Custoza Superiore’s depth makes it an excellent companion to richer fare such as risotto, poultry, and creamy pasta dishes.

While sustainability is the key to managing their vineyards and cellars, elegance is at the heart of Monte del Frà’s oenological approach. All of Monte del Frà’s Ca' del Magro Custoza Superiore are crafted in a way that balances freshness with complexity, making them approachable and food-friendly, while also making for a great choice in the New Year.

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