• Catherine Willams (left) samples a Bardolino Classico Chiaretto from Tre Colline' vineyard during "Wine Down Wednesday".

    ODR wine trip

    Catherine Willams (left) samples a Bardolino Classico Chiaretto from Tre Colline' vineyard during "Wine Down Wednesday".

  • Vicenza community member samples a Bardolino Classico from Ca' Bottura during a "Wine Down Wednesday" trip by Vicenza Outdoor Recreation.

    Exploring wines of veneto

    Vicenza community member samples a Bardolino Classico from Ca' Bottura during a "Wine Down Wednesday" trip by Vicenza Outdoor Recreation.

LAKE GARDA, Italy-It is the middle of the work week and the idea of discovering wines I won't find at my local shop makes going on Vicenza Outdoor Recreation's monthly Wine Down Wednesday trip seem doubly decadent. Add not having to drive, throw in local olive oil and other exotic fare, and I can't think of a better way to spend Feb. 27.

We on the way to the vineyards, trip leader, Lisa Xodo, tells our group about the two different vineyards we'll be visiting and points out various wild flower hiking areas that might be of interest to come visit on our own.

We arrive at Tre Colline Azienda Agricola, in the wine region of Bardolino near Lake Garda, and while waiting for wine to be poured, we taste two delightful extra virgin olive oils that have a golden color and glorious taste, which Xodo attributes to the unique microclimate and low acid content.

We start with a slightly sweet, sparkling Moscalino wine, followed by an elegant Chardonnay. The Bardolino Classico Chiaretto, which at first glance can be mistaken for a rosé, helps our palates transition from whites to reds.

The Bardolino Classico, namesake of the region, is truly a classic. The more we taste, the heavier the wine becomes until we arrive at the Bacari, which boasts a whopping 15 percent alcohol content. To say this deep, full-bodied red is incredible would not do it justice.

More surprising, the taste reminds me of a Brunello, but the price was a third of what one might expect to pay. We wrap up the wine tasting at Tre Colline with a Vigna del Sol, a sweet dessert wine similar to a Vin Santo, served with the local cantucci, or cookies, to dip into it.

It is hard to believe that we are moving on to another vineyard the same morning. We arrive at Ca' Bottura and had the weather not been raining, we would have most certainly sat at tables overlooking the vineyards and enjoyed the view. The wine cellar, decorated with local artist paintings, has a buffet table of hor d'oeuvers waiting for us.

We start with a Garganega white wine that Xodo said would be good with risotto. The Chiaretto Bardolino that follows would make for a good aperitif, and the final wine, Bardolino Classico, would be nice accompaniment to dinner.

You can imagine after tasting all these wines, there were a variety of opinions.

Catherine Williams, who was on her second "Wine Down Wednesday" trip, said her favorite wine was the Bardolino Classico Chiaretto from Tre Colline because of its light, fruity flavor with no strong finish. Their Bardolino Classico was her runner up.

Amanda Hardy sang the praises of the Bardolino Classico from Ca' Bottura; however, both agreed there were many advantages to visiting vineyards with ODR.

"Getting out and seeing the countryside and discovering hidden treasures that I wouldn't find on my own made it worth taking the day off work and going with my friend on this trip," said Williams, who incidentally I thought looked just like Kate Middleton by the time we got to the sixth glass of wine samples.

Hardy, a native Californian who said she did not like wine before coming to Italy, was on her 10th ODR trip. It made her feel like an avid connoisseur of local vineyards, she said.

"These Italian wines taste natural and I really like how they feed you all the local products. You don't experience that in California," said Hardy.

For my part, I was happy to try new wines in the company of new friends in a relaxed wound down Wednesday.

Vicenza ODR typically has a Wine Down Wednesday trip each month. Red wine lovers should be sure to sign up for the April 17 Valpolicella and brunch trip. Sparkling wine lovers won't be disappointed on the May 15 Prosecco Valley excursion. Sign up for trips at Vicenza ODR or online at Webtrac.

Page last updated Wed March 27th, 2013 at 10:55