Alto Adige, a striking region in Italy’s northeast, defines the term ‘natural beauty.’ Jaw-dropping landscapes rife with mountain peaks, limpid lakes and open space attracts modern day naturalists to its power and purity. Yet whether it’s the phenomenal setting inspiring the hand of winemakers, or the abundance of resources from light, warmth, and water, Alto Adige’s wines prove equally striking.
Alto Adige’s climate makes red and white grape growing possible. The region boasts several local varieties as well as international grapes capable of world-class quality. Key reds are Schiava, Lagrein, and Pinot Nero, and whites are Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanco. Here’s why these wines are distinct and worthy of your wine glass.
Schiava is the hardest working grape in the valley. The favored pour of locals, it comprises the largest percentage of vineyard plantings. Schiava has a light body, silky texture, and bright candied fruits akin to strawberry-flavored spun sugar. Lower alcohol and moderate acidity make it an easy-drinking wine.
In contrast, Lagrein has bigger flavors and broader shoulders, especially from warmer sites near Bolzano. Deeply hued wines taste of blackberry and cherry, violets and cacao. Soft acidity and velvety tannins gain structure and spice when aged in oak. It’s delicious and versatile with food.
Italian for Pinot Noir, Pinot Nero excels in Alto Adige. Warm days and cool nights retain precious acidity. Wines evoke bright red berries layered with savory, earthy flavors. Pinot Nero’s light body and moderate alcohol provide an elegant foil to the global cadre of over-extracted Pinots.
The most valuable player by volume, Pinot Grigio flourishes under Alto Adige’s 300 days of sunshine. Cool nights lend zippy citrus flavors and a signature style unlike elsewhere in Italy.
Often fat and rich when grown elsewhere, Alto Adige producers prefer Gewürztraminer in a dry, balanced style with beautiful aromas of rose petal and lychee.
Pinot Blanco has experienced a rebirth. Amended growing practices and higher elevation plantings have driven a quality spike. Honey, melon and flowers riding balanced acidity, evolve into a complex bouquet with age.