Alto Adige Reds

July 19, 2009 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

In my last post, I discussed the superb whites of Alto Adige; in this post I will deal with this region’s unique red wines.

Most people will be surprised to know that red varieties account for more plantings than white in Alto Adige. The numbers used to be higher, as much of the red plantings were the Schiava grape, which produces lighter, high acid, low tannic reds. This grape is still seen in good numbers, but it is far less important today. Still, a lightly chilled Schiava is a pleasant wine for lighter fare.

PINOT NERO and LAGREIN

The two most important red varities of Alto Adige then are Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) and Lagrein; these are two very different grapes. 

Few people think about Pinot Nero in Italy, but there are some excellent examples produced in the cool climes of Alto Adige. Many are medium-bodied with pleasant red cherry fruit, high acidity and soft tannins; there wines are meant for comsumption within 2-3 years of the vintage date. But there are a few examples that are from single vineyards (crus) or special selections that have greater depth of fruit, more pronounced aromatics and are more complex in general. These top offerings of Alto Adige Pinot Nero are in the vein of a Burgundy from the Cotes du Beaune and can be enjoyed anywhere from 5-10 years after the vintage.

A few of the best bottlings of Pinot Nero from Alto Adige include:

  • J. Hofstatter “Barthenau Vigna S. Urbano”
  • Colterenzio “Cornell”
  • Alois Lageder “Krafuss”
  • Cantina Tramin “Riserva”
  • Abbazia di Novacella “Praepositus Riserva”

 

LAGREIN

Lagrein is one of Alto Adige’s most unique red varieties, offering rich purple color, ripe black fruit flavors and moderate tannins. Most examples of Lagrein are quite delicious upon release and as the acidity is not too high, they are quite enjoyable on their own, although most work better paired with a variety of red meats. Some examples are medium-bodied and meant for short-term consumption (2-3 years), although many producers also make a richer, riper, more serious version (often aged in small oak barrels) that have more tannin and can age for as long as a decade. 

 

Vineyards at Cantina Terlano, a top producer of Lagrein (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Vineyards at Cantina Terlano, a top producer of Lagrein (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

 

Among the best bottlings of Lagrein in Alto Adige are:

  • Cantina Terlano “Porphyr”
  • Elena Walch “Castel Ringberg Riserva”
  • Cantina Tramin “Urban”
  • Muri-Gries “Abtei-Muri Riserva”
  • Alois Lageder “Lindenburg”
  • J. Hofstatter “Steinraffler”
  • Cantina Bolzano “Taber Riserva”
  • Abbazia di Novacella “Praepositus Riserva”

 

OTHER VARIETIES

A few producers also work with Cabernet Sauvignon; the cool climate here preserves acidity and brings out some of the herbal components of the variety. These are not flashy examples of Caberent Sauvignon, but are well made and tend to age well. Arguably the finest is the “Cor Romigberg” from Alois Lageder, which drink well at 10-12 years after the vintage. 

A few producers also make a varietal Merlot or blend Merlot with Lagrein. 

All in all, the red wines from Alto Adige may not reach the same heights as the region’s whites, but they are of high quality and are quite distinct.

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