San Michele Mach Riserva del Fondatore Brut 2007
The institute was founded in 1874 when the regional Tyrolean Diet at Innsbruck elected to open an agrarian school together with an experiment station at San Michele for the revival of agriculture in Tyrol. The philosophy of the institute’s first director, Edmund Mach, has had an indelible influence on the direction of the institute and continues to be the drive behind its mission even today. Mach believed that a good wine must take into consideration several elements that cannot be separated from one another: the quality of the vineyard, the technical skill of the cellar and the character of the men who live this creation. This integrated approach is at the heart of the school’s curriculm and is a hallmark of all the native varietal wines produced here.
Today, under the guidance of renowned winemaker and professor, Enrico Paternoster, this integration of tradition and scientific knowledge has expanded to include how to protect the patrimony of this unique appellation, researching biological techniques that have a small environmental impact the on delicate balance of these lands. Paternoster oversees each vintage of the institute’s indigenous wines, which includes Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Müller Thurgau, Riesling, Nosiola, Lagrein and the unique Incrocio Manzoni.
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 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 but on steep slopes to increase sunlight exposure.
The primary white grapes are Pinot grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot blanc, as well as smaller plantings of Sauvignon blanc, Müller Thurgau. 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.
A term typically reserved for Champagne and Sparkling Wines, non-vintage or simply “NV” on a label indicates a blend of finished wines from different vintages (years of harvest). To make non-vintage Champagne, typically the current year’s harvest (in other words, the current vintage) forms the base of the blend. Finished wines from previous years, called “vins de reserve” are blended in at approximately 10-50% of the total volume in order to achieve the flavor, complexity, body and acidity for the desired house style. A tiny proportion of Champagnes are made from a single vintage.
There are also some very large production still wines that may not claim one particular vintage. This would be at the discretion of the winemaker’s goals for character of the final wine.