Today I chatted with the fabulous sommelier, Cynthia Chaplin, about the Valtènesi in the Lake Garda wine region, the Conti Thun Winery and two unusual local grapes: groppello and marzemino.
About Cynthia Chaplin, Sommelier
Cynthia refers to herself as a passionate Italian wine professional, educator, writer, presenter, translator and judge. She sees herself as spreading Italian wine joy one glass at a time and that really says it in a nutshell!
She is a member of Le Donne del Vino, and is a professor of Italian wine and culture.
Cynthia was born in the USA and moved to Europe in 1990. She’s lived in Spain, Belgium, France, England and Italy and chose to center her career in Rome and immerse herself in the Italian wine sector.
Cynthia spreads her wine knowledge and joy through the courses she teaches to university students and ex-pats, corporations and private clients, and embassies. She creates and presents wine tastings, events, seminars and in-depth courses. Cynthia also consults with restaurants and enotecas to assist them in the development of comprehensive wine lists and excellent food pairings, and she consults with private clients who want to develop a comprehensive Italian wine collection.
You can find Cynthia on Instagram and Facebook and contact her directly via email: email@example.com
The Conti Thun Winery: Wine & Hospitality
The Conti Thun winery is in Valtènesi, on the western shore of the Lake Garda wine region, in the Brescia area of Lombardy. The Conti Thun winery is owned by husband and wife Vittorio and Ilona, but it's Ilona who is the driving force. Conti Thun focuses on two local grapes, groppello and marzemino, with a bit of barbera and sangiovese in there, as well as some international style whites with riesling and sauvignon blanc. They make outstanding rosé with the blend, as well as a sparkling brut rosé.
Interestingly, they have created a limited edition, age-worthy rosé in a heavy black glass bottle, elegant and sophisticated enough for the fine dining table -- the idea was to exalt rosé and elevate it from afternoon tipple to a 5 star experience. It worked.
Conti Thun demonstrates huge respect for nature and eco sustainability. Their vineyard is becoming a center in the Valtènesi community for culture -- they are doing yoga in the vineyard, high end winery experiences, vineyard picnics, family friendly days, all incredibly well curated. Thy are bringing the little known Valtènesi area in the Lake Garda wine region into the wine consciousness. Vittorio and Ilena are two energetic, young, ambitious producers.
Where can you purchase Conti Thun wines?
You can purchase wine directly from Conti Thun.
There are also two online buying options, both of which have their own apps: Vivino, which is an international wine site, and then Tannico in Italy.
If you have a preferred wine shop that you use you can also check with them.
Two local Valtènesi Lake Garda wine region grapes
Italy has hundreds upon hundreds of grape varietals that yield many exquisite and unusual wines. Groppello and Marzemino are two of these.
Groppello, a Valtènesi Lake Garda wine region grape
Like so many Italian grapes that grow in the north the grapes are tightly bunched together and compact which gives this grape its name, groppello, from the word groppo meaning knot or bunch. The grape is beautiful: it has a thin skin with a blue violet color and the grapes hang on the vine in a long tight cylinder that tails off to a point like a pinecone. Groppello is a red wine grape variety and grows all along the southwestern side of the Lake Garda wine region of northern Italy.
Marzemino, a Valtènesi Lake Garda wine region grape
Marzemino is a red Italian grape varietal grown in Southern Trentino. It’s relatively unknown and is most noted for its mention in Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni. “Versa il vino. Eccellente Marzemino!”
Cynthia refers to marzemino as a grape that is best exalted when blended with other grapes. And that’s the case when it’s used in Conti Thun wines.
Marzemino does appear on its own in a few wines like the Trentino Marzemino DOC, “Ai Dossi”, produced by the Azienda Agricola Longariva. This wine is best served with salumi, mushrooms and roast white meats.
Take a trip to the Valtènesi in the Lake Garda wine region
Flavor of Italy organizes weekend and weeklong trips throughout Italy. If you're interested in visiting the Conti Thun winery and exploring the Valtènesi Lake Garda wine producing area let me know! Or another wine area of your choice.
Here are some other wine tasting tours and experiences:
Wine tastings and winery visits when in Rome
Would you like to experience a wine tasting, or visit a winery while you’re visiting Rome? I’ve got you covered! Just let me know and I'll organize bespoke events custom tailored for you.
You might also be interested in this podcast episode about the Rimessa Roscioli Wine Club.
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