Trentino-Alto Adige

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Anyone who as been to the politically autonomous region of Alto Adige in Italy’s extreme north will know that on the surface it feels about Italian as Alsace feels French. Like Alsace, the character of the region is distinctly Germanic, its dialect, traditional dress, cuisine and, in many respects, its wine.

Indeed historically, and, for many inhabitants, perpetually, the South Tyrol (Südtirol) is Austrian. The people fiercely resisted Mussolini’s attempts to ‘Italianise’ the region in the first half of last century and today are proud custodians of their traditions. Certainly the region with its surrounding Alpine mountain ranges, wide valleys and rivers, and resultant macroclimates is evocative of parts of Germany and Austria. So too are the wines, with the best of their emblematic white wines crafted from ‘German varieties’ and characterised by bright, precise, mineral-laden fruit with lingering crunchy acidity.

Trentino shares many geographic similarities with its political partner, Alto Adige...READ MORE

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Anyone who as been to the politically autonomous region of Alto Adige in Italy’s extreme north will know that on the surface it feels about Italian as Alsace feels French. Like Alsace, the character of the region is distinctly Germanic, its dialect, traditional dress, cuisine and, in many respects, its wine.

Indeed historically, and, for many inhabitants, perpetually, the South Tyrol (Südtirol) is Austrian. The people fiercely resisted Mussolini’s attempts to ‘Italianise’ the region in the first half of last century and today are proud custodians of their traditions. Certainly the region with its surrounding Alpine mountain ranges, wide valleys and rivers, and resultant macroclimates is evocative of parts of Germany and Austria. So too are the wines, with the best of their emblematic white wines crafted from ‘German varieties’ and characterised by bright, precise, mineral-laden fruit with lingering crunchy acidity.

Trentino shares many geographic similarities with its political partner, Alto Adige, although rather than the almost exclusively rugged mountain territory there, Trentino’s terrain ranges from the coolly vertiginous to the mild and bucolically rolling. The Germanic character also recedes, giving way to an identity that is far more recognisably ‘Italian’.

Alto Adige is best known for crystalline white wines made from Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Sylvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Veltliner (sometimes Grüner Veltliner, though often other, lesser, cultivars), Gewürztraminer, Kerner, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Many of these will be labelled varietally under the catch-all Alto Adige/Südtirol DOC, although this may be appended with a subzone, giving the consumer a little more guidance.

Although Schiava is the dominant red variety in Alto Adige, its charms are typically modest, with the wines rarely offering more than pale, fragrant, perfectly pleasant, but far from profound, expressions. The other principal autochthonous variety, Lagrein, is supplanting the kingship of Schiava, rapidly increasing in acreage and capturing the, perhaps changing, imagination of drinkers. The more acclaimed red wines come from the warmer vineyard sites near the regional capital, Bolzano. Bordeaux varieties also pop up in Alto Adige with good success, as does Pinot Noir, resulting in perhaps the purest and most characterful Italian expressions of the grape.

The diversity of terrain and greater shifts in elevation allow for substantial variety in the wines of Trentino, though perhaps as a consequence their vinous identity is a little harder to define. The range of varieties is broad, although Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc take the lead for whites. For reds, Schiava and Lagrein make an impression, along with the main grapes of Bordeaux, but it is with the autochthonous varieties, Teroldego and Marzemino that Trentino excels. Additionally, the best of the Trento DOC Metodo Classico sparkling wines rival Lombardy’s Franciacorta for viable alternatives to Champagne.

Principal denominations: Alto Adige/Südtirol DOC, Teroldego Rotaliano DOC, Trentino DOC, Trento DOC, Valdadige/Etschtaler DOC
Important white varieties: Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Kerner, Müller-Thurgau, Nosiola, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sylvaner
Important red varieties: Lagrein, Marzemino, Merlot, Pinot Nero, Schiava, Teroldego

 

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