The Best Dessert Wine You’ve Never Tasted

November 27, 2012 at 8:56 am 3 comments

I love the endless challenge that the Italian wine scene presents. There are always new varieties, wine districts or producers to be discovered. How can you not love the opportunity to constantly taste new wines?

Kerner is a variety that is a specialty of one small zone, that of the Valle d’Isarco in northeastern Alto Adige, not far from the Austrian border. The best known producer is probably Abbazia di Novacella, as they craft two lovely dry versions as well as a passito bottling. I tasted these wines during a recent visit to the winery and then for my next appointment that day, I stopped at Weingut Niklas, where Dieter Sölva renders a delicious example with bright fruit and lively acidity. I’ve also tasted a very nice example from Strasserhof, also from Valle d’Isarco.

I was told by a local producer that Nössing was a producer to search for if I wanted to taste an excellent version of Kerner. On my way back to my accommodations one night in Alto Adige, I stopped at a local enoteca and found the Nössing wine, but this was the vendemmia tardiva (late harvest) offering, not the dry one (vintage 2010). That was fine as I love dessert wines and was curious to see what this producer could do with this variety.

Am I glad I purchased this wine! Displaying a light, bright yellow color, the aromas of apricot, yellow peach, papaya and honey are haunting – face it, don’t you want to try a wine that smells like that? Medium-full with excellent concentration, this is ultra clean with lively acidity, excellent persistence, impeccable balance and just a hint of sweetness. It’s only 11% alcohol, so it is delicate in the finish and not overly sweet or lush. It’s absolutely delicious and the fruit flavors stay with you long after you’ve finished the wine. I tasted this with a producer of red wines in the Veneto who was absolutely blown away with the flavors and quality of this wine.

To the best of my knowledge, this is not imported in America. Given that Manni Nössing only produces a total of about 1800 cases of wine in total – divided up among this offering as well as a traditional dry Kerner, Sylvaner, Gruner Veltliner and Gewurztraminer – there just isn’t much of this wine to go around. But the next time you’re in Alto Adige and can find this in an enoteca (17.50 Euro for a 500 ml – well worth it), do yourself a favor and purchase a bottle so you can experience one of Italy’s least known yet finest dessert wines!

Manni Nössing, Bressanone (Brixen)

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark  |  November 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Wow, the late harvest Nossing sounds amazing; makes my mouth water. I might have to jump on the next plane to Italy. We’ll be in Salzburg over Christmas…maybe an excursion is in order.

    • 2. tom hyland  |  November 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      It is a pretty special wine, Mark. If you do find it, let me know and I’ll get you the money for another bottle for myself!

  • 3. Sebastian Albrecht  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Great blog! I am looking for some new wines to taste basically any occasion I have and this information was indeed very very helpful, thank you. I have no idea when there will be next chance for me to visit Italy for some new experiences but I absolutely agree with Mark, that late harvest looks especially promising. I am exploring the land of cool-climate wines lately so this would be a really nice change.


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