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Niklas Lagrein 2009
Lagrein is an indigenous grape variety that is used to make a wide range of different wine styles, from rosé ('kretzer') to huge, black-purple reserve wines. Dieter Soelva's example is in the middle, a delicious plummy savory drink with a hint of tannin on the finish and no noticeable oak (it does spend some time in larger neutral wood).
And -- let's it be proclained -- that Pinot Bianco is one serious grape in this area. We've tasted back vintages and it ages quite well. Dieter has banked on Pinot Bianco for years; I hope you will too, at least once.
For something really different, try the Riesling-like, Kerner, a cross of the Schiava and Riesling grape. Apricot and peach make a delicate, refined nose. The Sauvignon here is grown from planting from one of the more famous Sauvignon producers in Styria; minerally and green pepper but also fruit that has tropical notes.
Trentino, the southern half, is primarily Italian-speaking and largely responsible for the production of non-native, international grapes. There is a significant quantity of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Merlot produced. But Trentino's native and most unique red variety, Teroldego, while still rare, is gaining popularity. It produces a deeply colored red wine rich in wild blackberry, herb, coffee and cocoa.
The rugged terrain of German-speaking Alto Adige (also referred to as Südtirol) focuses on small-scale viticulture, with great value is placed on local varieties, though international varieties have been widely planted since the 1800s. Sheltered by the Alps from harsh northerly winds, many of the best vineyards are 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.
Incredibly concentrated in ripe blackberry and sturdy in character, Lagrein balances its intensity with a gorgeous perfume reminiscent of fresh herbs, cut grass, juniper and violets. On the palate, bright red cherries and a savory splash lighten up its often hefty, but usually smooth, tannins. Deeply rooted in the Alto Adige area, Lagrein has recently experienced a great renaissance. While the climate is cool there, the sun is intense. The best Lagrein usually comes from the warm slopes near the bustling city of Bolzano. Lagrein Kretzer (German) or Rosato (Italian) is the spicy rosé version, which is delicious with smoked fish and white meat. Try Lagrein, the red wine, with gamey meats, beef and aged cheeses.