I first met Matilde Poggi, owner/wine maker, at Le Fraghe on a press trip sponsored by Vignaioli Veneti to the Veneto. On the first night of the trip, she sat next to me at dinner. Matilde asked me if I would like to taste some of her wines. She poured me a Bardolino, and I was very impressed. I noticed that it had a screw cap, as did all of the wines she had brought to the restaurant. We began a conversation but there was too much going on in the restaurant and many of my questions were left unanswered. However we were to visit her winery the next day.
Azienda Agricola Le Fraghe is a 30 hectare estate located in the hills close to Lake Garda. We spent the first part of the visit in the vineyard and the second part in the tasting room.
Matilde said, “even though the winery is near the lake the area is influenced by the cold winds blowing down from the north in the morning. It gives the growing area a distinctive climate, and my wines reflect strongly these unique weather conditions.”
Matilde began bottling wine in 1984 focusing on local indigenous varieties: Corvina, Rondinella and Garganega.
She only uses her own grapes. Her Bardolino is made only from Corvina 80% and the rest Rondinella, a blend that is perfect for her vineyards and her wine. Since 2009 the vineyards have been managed according to organic sustained viticulture.
In 2008 she began bottling some of her wine under screw cap. “My goal was to preserve to the fullest the freshness of my wines, in particular Chiaretto and Camporegno, wines whose fresh fruity quality I especially want to maintain unaltered. I was convinced that this type of closure is best at preventing, in certain wines, aging characteristics that I did not find positive.”
On the capsules of her wine there is the FIVI logo (Federazione Italiana Vignaiolo Indipendenti), an association that represents winegrowers who directly perform every single step in the production of a wine.
Camporengo Garganega Veneto made from 100% Garganega from the Comune di Cavaion Veronese. The system is spurred cordon and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The vineyard is south facing at 190 meters. Whole clusters are placed in the press, without de-stalking and the free–run must is only 55%. After fermentation at 17 degrees C in stainless steel, the wine rests on the fine lees in 50HL stainless steel tanks until the following spring when it is bottled. This is a balanced full bodied and elegant wine. It has hints of peach and apple, a touch of green pepper and floral notes.
Rodon Bardolino Chiaretto made from Corvina and Rondinella from the Comuni di Affi and Cavaion Veronese. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The exposure is south and the vineyard is at190 meters
Corvina and Rondinella are vinified separately. They are given a cool temperature 6 to 8 hour maceration on the skins, which extracts just enough color to give a lovely, medium bodied hue to the juice. The must then ferments at a cool 17 degrees C. The finished wine matures on the fine lees in 50HL stainless steel tanks until the following spring when it is bottled. The wine has a elegant bouquet of strawberries and red currents while on the palate the wine is full bodied and balanced with a long finish the evokes the bouquet.
Le Fraghe Bardolino made from Corvina and Rondinella from Comuni di Affi and Cavaion Veronese. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Corvina and Roninella are vinified separately. The maceration lasts for 7/8 days. After the wine is drawn off, it goes through malolactic fermentation, which usually occurs in the following month, the wine goes into stainless steel tanks, where it remains until it is bottled. This is a full bodied balanced wine with hints of sour cherry and blueberry, a touch of cinnamon and black pepper. It had a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.
Brol Grande Bardolino Classico made from Corvina and Rondinella from the Comune di Affi, Vigneto Brol Grande. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Corvina and Rondinella are vinified separately. Maceration lasts for 7/8 days but not beyond the end of the alcoholic fermentation. Delestage is carried out every morning and the wine is pumped over the cap every evening. Once devatted the wine undergoes a complete malolactic fermentation which usually takes place by the next month. The wine is then placed in 40HL wooden vats for about 8 months.
The wine is ruby red but not a deep color. It has fresh flavors of cherry, blueberries and currents with balsamic and floral notes and a touch of black pepper. This is an easy drinking wine and a style of Bardolino that I really like. This is the wine that impressed me so much at the dinner where I first met Matilda. It can go with many different foods even with fish from Lake Garda.
Le Fraghe “Chelidon” made from 100% Rondinella. IGT Cavaion Veronese. Matilde said the name Chelidone comes from the ancient Greek language and it means “Swallow” which in Italian is “Rondinella.” The two swallows whose tails become roots are drawn on the label. It symbolizes the long roots of the Rondinella grape variety in the Bardolino region.
Rondinella is used as a blending grape in Bardolino, Valpolicella and Amarone. Matilda may be the only one to make a wine from 100% Rondinella. This is an aromatic wine with hints of red fruit and a touch of pepper.