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Kofererhof Veltliner Varna 2008
Acquired and managed by the Kerschbaumer family since 1940, the Kofererhof estate has existed in southern Tyrol, a region that is as Austrian in spirit as it is Italian, for over 850 years. In 1995, the winery started to bottle its own wines after having sold its fruit to local wineries for years. Kofererhof’s tiny 5 hectares of vines are located at the base of the Dolomite mountains between 700 and 800 meters above sea level. At this high altitude, the variation in temperatures from day to night is ideal, and the carefully tended, high-density vineyards yield intensely fragrant, concentrated and well-balanced wines. All grapes are harvested by hand, and attention to detail is paramount in this limited production winery. Farming practices are currently of low environmental impact but will become fully organic in the near future. Indigenous yeasts are used, except in the rare instance of a particularly challenging vintage. All wines are fermented and aged in temperature-controlled tanks with the exception of the Pinot Grigio, which is partially aged in large casks of Acacia wood. Total production for the estate is only around 3,500 cases of wine per year! The quality of these wines raises the bar for all whites from Alto Adige.
Kofererhof is a practicing organic winery. Integrated insect and disease control is followed. The Alto Adige region supports the growers with consultants and technical staff for the monitoring of insects and diseases. The region frowns on the use of harmful products as the vineyards are located near villages and towns. To curb fungus, growers use sulfur and copper-based products. Only organic fertilizers and manure are used and cover crops between the rows of vines add additional nutrients (in the new vineyards low growing crops are sown). When needed, the soil is tilled with manure and cut up plant substance. Very low doses of added SO2 in the wines help preserve them.
A mountainous northern Italian region heavily influenced by German culture, Trentino-Alto Adige is actually made up of two separate but similar regions: Alto Adige and Trentino. Trentino, the southern half, is primarily Italian-speaking and largely responsible for the production of large volumes of wine made from non-native grapes. There is a significant quantity of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio produced here, and Merlot is common as well.
The rugged terrain of German-speaking Alto Adige (also referred to as Südtirol) is more focused on smaller-scale viticulture, and greater value is placed on local varieties, though international varieties are widely planted as well. Sheltered by the Alps from harsh northerly winds, many of the best vineyards are planted at extreme altitude on steep slopes to increase sunlight exposure. Dominant red varieties include the bold, herbaceous Lagrein and delicate, strawberry-kissed Schiava, in addition to some Pinot Nero. The primary white grapes are Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc, as well as smaller plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Müller Thurgau, and others. These tend to be bright and refreshing with crisp acidity and just the right amount of texture. Some of the highest quality Pinot Grigio in Italy is made here.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.