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24 Maggio 2014

Wine Spectator, May 31, 2014 Issue, Alpine Pleasure

Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy’s northernmost wine region, offers versatile whites, reds and sparklers at attractive prices

By Alison Napjus

Set against the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites in north-east Italy, the steep, terraces vineyards of Trentino-Alto Adige are a stronghold for bright, aromatic white wines and lively, light-to medium-bodied reds. Closer to the valley floor and the Adige River, a more moderate climate delivers fuller-bodied versions. In either case, Italy’s northernmost winegrowing region is a bastion of both quality and value.

Part of Austria until after World War I, Trentino Alto Adige still reflects a strong Germanic influence, both culturally and in its wine styles, with many of its alpine-grown bottlings labelled in both German and Italian. All told, it’s an impressively diverse groups: I blind-tasted nearly 350 bottlings in our New York office over the past year, with solid results. The bulk of the wines under review, about 70 percent, fall in the very good range (85 to 90 points on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale). In addition, many bottlings are notable for their overall value, with nearly 200 wines priced at $25 or less.
Showing slightly better quality, more than 10 percent of the year’s wines received outstanding scores fo 90 or more points. These wines are typically more expensive, but none costs more than $100 a bottle. (A free alphabetical list of scores and prices for all wines tasted is available at www.winespectator.com/053114).
“our wines are cultivated on the higher slopes of the Trentino mountains – the Dolomites,” says Matteo Lunelli, president of Ferrari, whose newly released Brut Trento Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2002 (92 points, $100) gives vintage Champagne a run for its money. “This territory enjoys a strong vocation for wines of elegance, due to significant diurnal temperature shifts between day and night during the ripening period.. [The result is] complexity coupled with elegance.”
Made entirely from Chardonnay sourced from the 30-acre Maso Pianizza vineyard located roughly 1,800 feet above sea level, the Giulio Ferrari Riserva 2002 is a mineral- driven bubbly produced in the traditional Champagne method, offering layered flavors and a lovely, filigreed texture. It is one of three wines that received a rating of 92 points, leading the way in this report. As a group, this outstanding trio – a sparkler, a white and a dessert wine – show-cases the region’s diversity.
Highlighting Alto Adige’s reputation for vibrant white wines, Elena Walch delivers with the citrusy Beyond the Clouds (92, $65). Made predominantly from Chardonnay and exhibiting racy acidity, the wine gains added richness from fermentation and aging in new French oak barriques – unusual in an area that typically relies on stainless-steel fermentation and aging for its whites,
For dessert, Cantina Andriano illustrates another of Alto Adige’s strengths: aromatic grape types. Its Gewuerztraminer Passito Juvelo 2011 (92, $55/375 ml) displays beautiful balance, offering a lightly sweet, mouthcoating texture paired with mouthwatering acidity.
Just a step behind, at 91 points, is a group of wines that includes a number of reds. Foradori, one of Trentino’s historic leaders, shines with two bottlings. Both are made from the local red grape Teroldego, which winemaker Elisabetta Foradori has championed. In vintage 2009, her flagship Vigneti delle Dolomiti Red Granato ($62) offers density and cut, while her Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti Morei 2011 ($48), fermented and aged in amphorae, is bright and savory, reflecting extended skin contact.
From Alto Adige, Cantina Terlano’s single-vineyard Point Noir Terlano Montigl Riserva 2011 ($35) is richly spiced and smoky, yet harmonious and fresh throughout. Peter Dipoli’s Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Iugum 2008 (91, $75) shows similar verve and balance, but with more body and tannins, as well as rich notes of black currant and tobacco.
Most of Trentino-Alto Adige’s top wines are relatively affordable compared with the highly rated bottlings of other regions. But if you’re approaching the category for the first time, trying wines with slightly lower price tags might prove more appealing. Luckily, the region abounds with values.
Mezzocorona, a cooperative producing wine from vineyards farmed by more than 1,500 growers, offers a line of wines showing consistent quality at the “try-me” price $9 per bottle. Current releases include a juicy Merlot Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2012 (87, $9), a spiced Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (87, $9), a creamy Pinot Noir 2012 (87, $9) and a well-balances Chardonnay 2012 (86, $9).
“The farmers of Mezzacorona are the largest estate producers in the region and proudly control the entire supply chain from the vine to our own importing [company] in the U.S. This is a reason why the winery has proven itself with consistent quality and value,” says Alberto Lusini, export director for Mezzacorona.
Trentino-Alto Adige was one of the first regions in Italy to use temperature-controlled, stainless-steel fermentation and aging to produce vibrant white wines, and for slightly more per bottle – in $10 to $20 range – this expertise allows several of the region’s producers do deliver fresh whites from diverse grape varieties. Biodynamic producer Alois Lageder stand out with several affordable bottlings, such as the mouthwatering Pinot Bianco Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2012 (88, $14), the citrusy Pinot Grigio 2012 (88, $15) and the subtle, well-knit Chardonnay Alto Adige 2012 (88, $15).
Chardonnay has more than a century of history in parts of Trentino-Alto Adige, and today finds its way into a host of clean, pure-tasting bottling. Look for open-knit flavors of ripe pear and green melon from Tiefenbrunner’s Chardonnay Alto Adige 2012 (88, $15), floral and apricot notes from Colterenzio’s Chardonnay Alto Adige Altkirch 2012 (88, $16) and bright acidity paired with a hint of pastry from Cantina Andrianos Chardonnay Alto Adige Somereto 2012 (88, $17).
Wrapping up the grab bag of good value from Trentino-Alto Adige is a sparkler and some reds worth highlighting. The brut Trento NV (88, $14) from Rotari is a great deal on bubbly minerality layered with pleasure white raspberry and aromatic Meyer lemon zest notes. Similarly well-priced, the Barone Fini Merlot Trentino 2011 (88, $12) is spiced and juicy, and the Roeno Teroldego Vallalagarina I Dossi (87, $15) offers a balanced, fruit- and herb-laces introduction to the Teroldego grape. For a few dollars more, Colterenzio Pinot Nero Alto Adige 2012 (88, $18) underscores its plump cherry flavors with cocoa powder notes.
Italy has a place in the hearts of wine lovers the world over, but Trentino-Alto Adige is among the country’s lesser-known and underexplored areas. If you’re just getting acquainted with the region, it’s not difficult to understand and enjoy the wealth of well-balances, accessible bottlings on offer. Delving deeper, Trentino-Alto Adige blends historical influences and traditions to create distinctive wines worthy of serious attention.

Senior editor Alison Napjus is Wine Spectator’s lead taster of the wines of Trentino-Alto Adige

TOP WINES
FORADORI Manzoni Bianco Vigneti delle Dolomiti Fontanasanta 2012, 91/100 points ($30)
A graceful, seamlessly integrated white, this offers distinctive flavors in an almost ethereal package, with delicate acidity.
FORADORI Vigneti delle Dolomiti Red Granato 2009, 91/100 points ($62)
Aromatic dried herb and violet notes lace this open-knit, creamy red, which is bright and lively. Accessible now, but suited to the cellar.

TOP VALUES
FORADORI Vigneti delle Dolomiti Red 2011, 90/100 points ($28)
A hint of salumi underscores the flavors of ripe black cherry and black raspberry fruit in this finely balanced, creamy red.

OTHER RATINGS
Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti Morei 2011, 91/100 points ($48)
Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti Sgarzon 2011, 89/100 points ($48)

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