Friday, May 29, 2015

Crisp White Wines from the Italian Alps

Catherine Fallis MS

At the recent Age-Worthy Alto-Adige wine tasting put on by SUDTIROL WEIN/VINI ALTO ADIGE and moderated by the erudite and engaging Tim Gaiser MS, not a single Pinot Grigio was served, though it is their most planted white grape.

Instead, the focus was on Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc), Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir). The Alto Adige DOC appellation along with several sub-appellations produce a wide range of wines due to the enormous range in vineyard altitude. Believe it or not, this is one of the warmest places in Italy in the summer months. It was also interesting to learn that the US is sandwiched between Germany (1st) and Switzerland (3rd) in terms of export markets. We import less Alto Adige wines than Germany? How is this possible?

As it turns out, the region was under German occupation from 1943 to 1945, and German influences prevail to this day including the accents, customs, and cuisine. Tobias Zingerle of Kaltern Caldaro, when asked about the region applying for the higher DOCG status, said, "G? Garantita? What does this mean? This is so Italian."

Wines tasted included four Pinot Bianco's ranging from 2014 to 1999, proving they are age-worthy, along with four Gewurztraminers and four Pinot Nero's (wine reviews will be posted shortly). Spicy sweet Gewurztraminer and soft sexy Pinot Noir is an easy sell here, but what about Pinot Bianco? Zingerle and his fellow winemaker panelists Martin Foradori Hofstatter of Tenuta Hofstatter and Ines Giovanett of Castelfeder described Pinot Bianco as "lighter than Sauvignon Blanc and very transparent." Zingerle added, "Pinot Bianco is a natural beauty, while Chardonnay is like Pamela Anderson."

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