Falling for the Wines of Alto Adige – Südtirol

{These wines were provided as media samples by Teuwen Communications. I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Sometimes transitions are gradual. A slow cooling, mild warming. A gradual shift in elevation yields a barely discernible change in fauna.  In other parts of the world, the shift is dramatic, palpable. Alto Adige-Südtirol, in the northernmost region of Italy is such a place. North of the Lombardy and Veneto, where Switzerland and Austria are just beyond the border, is a place where you find a melding of languages, culture, topography and climate. The food and wines reflect this. 

I was recently given the opportunity to sample three wines from the region. The high elevation, diurnal swings and mineral rich soils yield excellent quality wines. The warm valleys allow other varieties to fully ripen. For a small region, the range is impressive.

As one would expect, many of the varieties have more than one name, one rooted in Latin, the other Germanic. Looking for a glass of white? You could order the classic Gewürztraminer. Perhaps Pinot Bianco also known as Weissburgunder or Pinot Grigio aka Ruländer or GrauburgunderFor red grapes, ask for Pinot Nero or Blauburgunder, Lagrein, or Schiava (Vernatsch).

Alto Adige – Südtirol Lake Caldaro (Kaltern).jpg Photo Courtesy of Teuwen Comm.

Speaking of drastic swings, we went from 90 degrees to 45 in one day. While the former called for something white, crisp, the next day we needed warming. The wines of Alto Adige can hit both ends of the temperature spectrum making them perfect wines for seasonal transitions.

The first wine we opened was the 2016 Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio ($20). This was a glorious example of what Pinot Grigio can be. Fermented 2/3 stainless, 1/3 oak. Tangerine and white flowers on the nose. White peach, apple, balanced acidity, medium bodied, fully delicious. Perfect paired with salmon.

The 2015 Franz Gojer Glögglhof St. Magdalener Rondell ($28) is composed of 95% Schiava, 5% Lagrein. This was a new grape for me. Fermented in stainless, aged in oak. I noted cherry, cola, savory notes, perky tannins, tart. Super food friendly. Could be paired in a variety of ways. charcuterie, grilled meats, veggies.

Finally, the 2015 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Nero (Blauburgunder) Turmhof Dusty garnet in the glass, tart red fruit on the nose. Raspberry, baking spice, bursts later on the palate with a long, spun sugar finish.

In 2007, my husband and I ventured on a 3-week trip around Italy. Our last days were spent in the Lakes. Being so close to the border, we decided to drive north to add a stamp to our passports. While not Alto Adige, I imagine it to be similar. The closer you get to the border, the more of a shift you see in architecture, the mountains loom large. Menus read differently, we noted more of a chill in the air.

We try to recreate our trip occasionally with food and wine. For a while, we were watching Lydia Bastianich for inspiration and found the recipe for Chicken in Beer and Speck Dumplings from the region. A perfect dish for falling temperatures. It would pair beautifully with any of these wines. And although he is no longer partaking in meat, I may have to revisit Alto Adige this fall, in the glass and in the kitchen.




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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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