Underrated wine region #1: Alto-Adige

1 Jul

First, it’s pronounced Ah-DEE-zhay.

Because it’s a far north in Italy as you can get–think Alps– before bumping up against Switzerland’s dupa, you also see Sudtirol on the label, which is also a legacy of being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So they speak a lot of German up there. Sometimes it’s Trentino-Alto-Adige on the label; Trentino is a neighboring province of Italia.

Despite the alpine location, the summer gets pretty warm there, which means they grow a fair amount of red grapes too, a few of which are local varieties like Vernatsch (a.k.a. Schiava), Lagrein, Goldmuscateller (seek this out if you can–sweetness without cloyingness), and Kerner (quality varies, IMHO). And the wines are crisp without making you feel like you’re drinking thumbtacks, and have just the right amount of juicy flavor that keeps you quaffing.

Another interesting thing is that if you’re interested in trying Swiss wines, which are notoriously hard to find in the US because so much is kept over there to drink, this could be the next best thing.

Winemaker to seek out Alois Lageder. For me, he is Alto-Adige. I serve his rose all the time with anything and people love the hell out of it. It’s a gorgeous deep pink color that looks like candy but tastes smooth and dry.

And he’s pretty reasonable: you can find his Lagrein Rose, regular Lagrein, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Grauversnatsch (bless you), and more for anywhere from $13 if you know where to shop (cough Wine Nation, Millbury, cough) to $21.

Winestone and Martignetti’s carry him too. Central Bottle In Cambridge has the higher end chi-chi biodynamic lines where he plays Mozart to the grapes to help them grow better, but that culture don’t come cheap ($20 to $50). I have one or two but I’m kinda saving them for when I cook a big dinner thang.

Other producers you’ll find around Boston: Colterenzio, Hofstatter, Santa Margherita.

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