Tramin Pinot Grigio 2013
Fantastic as an aperitif but also a versatile food wine that can complement anything from a simple salad of lightly-dressed greens to richer dishes like seafood quiche.
Located in the heart of Alto Adige in the town of Termeno on the south side of the Alps, Tramin comprises of one of the oldest networks of farmers forming a winery. Rich in tradition, Tramin’s wines are authentic expressions of a unique terroir, supported by a common philosophy of hard work, dedication, confidence and creativity among all participating members. Tramin operates on a human scale with a farmer-to-land ratio similar to that of a small estate, allowing for delicate hand-harvesting. A unique architectural landmark that blends in among its natural surroundings was designed for Cantina Tramin’s new headquarters in 2010, combining a modern structure with the original cellar. When viewed from outside, the building is striking for its curves, while the interior is a well-planned winery with dedicated areas for cellar workers and visiting wine enthusiasts. Designed by leading Italian architect Tscholl Werner, the building is located on the exact footprint of the original cellar so as not to sacrifice any land from the surrounding vineyards. Founded in 1889 by Pastor Christian Schrott, Tramin now boasts 270 members across approximately 620 acres in the communities of Tramin, Neumarkt, Montan and Auer. The town of Tramin — the German name for Termeno — is home to the aromatic grape, Gewürztraminer. The Traminer grape (as it is affectionately called here) is one of the oldest in the world and boasts a noble lineage. In fact, recent studies show that it is the ancestor of some of the oldest grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, and Pinots Blanc, Gris and Noir. At Cantina Tramin, the Traminer grape grows in the subzone of Sella, a terroir that’s particularly suited to Gewürztraminer; hence the name of the winery, Cantina Tramin. Among the northernmost vineyards in Italy, the 620 acres that provide grapes for the Tramin winery are located in Alto Adige, better known to its mostly German-speaking inhabitants as the Südtirol. These vines grow in an exquisite, high-walled glacial valley that protects them from the northern cold and traps the sun’s warmth. The winery itself is located on the Wine Route (Strada di Vino/Weinstrasse) in the commune of Termeno — or Tramin in German — a few miles south of the provincial capital Bolzano (Bozen) and 60 miles from the Austrian border. Approximately 37 acres of Tramin’s vineyards are currently cultivated using organic and biodynamic principles. With 12 Tre Bicchieri-award winning wines to date, Tramin also boasts the talent of Willi Stürz, named Gambero Rosso’s “Winemaker of the Year” in 2004. He joined the winery in 1992 and has been committed to addressing its winemaking challenges from the start. A native of Termeno, he is deeply tied to its culture and people, which can be seen in his work. A professional of uncommon depth and focus, Willi cultivates a balance of traditional winemaking with the use of modern technology and deep expertise, which has resulted in great success for Tramin. Wolfgang Klotz oversees sales and marketing, and manages the winery with Willi Stürz.
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.
Showing a unique rosy, purplish hue upon full ripeness, this “white” variety is actually born out of a mutation of Pinot noir. The grape boasts two versions of its name, as well as two generally distinct styles. In Italy, Pinot grigio achieves most success in the mountainous regions of Trentino and Alto Adige as well as in the neighboring Friuli—all in Italy’s northeast. France's Alsace and Oregon's Willamette Valley produce some of the world's most well-regarded Pinot gris wine. California produces both styles with success.
In the Glass
Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity but full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear and almond. Alsatian styles are aromatic (think rose and honey), richly textured and sometimes relatively higher in alcohol compared to its Italian counterparts. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is often much lighter, charming and fruit driven.
The viscosity of a typical Alsatian Pinot gris allows it to fit in harmoniously with the region's rich foods like pork, charcuterie and foie gras. Pinot grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works well as an aperitif wine or with seafood and subtle chicken dishes.
Given the color of its berries and aromatic and characterful potential if cared for as it is allowed to fully ripen, the Pinot grigio variety is actually one that is commonly used to make "orange wines." An orange wine is a white wine made in the red wine method, i.e. with fermentation on its skins. This process leads to a wine with more ephemeral aromas, complexity on the palate and a pleasant, light orange hue.