Who: Cecila Beretta Castelnuovo Custoza
What: Trebbiano Toscano 40%, Garganega 30%, Tocai Friulano 20%, Malvasia 10%
Where: The Custoza province of Northern Italy, 22 minutes drive west from Verona.
How: Surprisingly, the blend sees a little maceration before being pressed and fermented in the small range of 16-17 Celsius. No oak treatment is given to this blend as the entire lot is sent to tank after racking in order to settle before bottling.
Why: What the heck are those grapes? What should I expect in a wine like this? The expectation might be easier to grasp than the components of this blend.
Wines from Custoza may have been created to compete with those from Soave. Both blends use many of the same grapes, specifically Garganega. Soave maintains a requirement of 40% Garganega while Custoza leans more towards Trebbiana Toscano. However, Soave may also use Chardonnay, creating potential for a slightly fatter mouthfeel. The regions also share similar limestone content in the vineyard soils.
For the sake of this review, it seemed prudent to mention Soave because some of us may have had a wine from that region before. However, a better comparison of the wines from Custoza could be drawn by focusing the lens towards the wines from Orvieto. They also predominantly feature Trebbiano by way of a local clone called Procanico. In all cases, strong comparisons can & have been drawn to the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio.
If you would like to learn a bit more about Tocai Friulano, Malvasia or any grapes for that matter, we suggest getting a copy of Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide by Jancis Robinson.
So, what is Trebbiano? In France, it is known as Ugni Blanc and also a key ingredient in making Cognac. This high yielding, high acid, fruity grape is also used for Balsamic Vinegar production. Behind Airen, Trebbiano is the most widely planted wine grape in the world, so it is fitting that inexpensive wines would be made from it.
Now that you have a little background, expectations of this particular bottle shouldn’t be set very high. It was an undistinguished wine that tasted inscrutably just like dry white wine. Scrawled at the top of our page of tasting notes was written, “generic white.” Little stood out from the bright acid and clean finish. We dug deep to write some circumspect notes of granny smith apple, river rock and malic acid on the nose, plus one very nondescript scribble of “rain.” Before you feel your eyebrow start to raise, we acknowledge that this wine was flawless in clarity and finish. Perhaps a bottle like this is not meant to compliment the menu with aromas and flavors, but simply as something refreshing to drink and cleanse the palate.
The Wrap: At this point it would be hard to interpret whether we enjoyed the Custoza from Cecilia Beretta. While we didn’t dislike the wine, it was a bit boring. However, we don’t always need a wine that wows us and gives us goose bumps. You could still happily pick up a bottle of Custoza, Soave or Orvieto and take it to a dinner party instead of taking Pinot Grigio. Who knows, people might take notice that you brought something different, around the same cost and in many ways, indecipherable.
Winery Website: Cecilia Beretta