Rassegna Stampa

31 Maggio 2016

Italy: Mountain Wines From Trentino

Italy: Mountain Wines From Trentino

May 31, 2016

Trentino often gets clumsily bundled together with Alto Adige as a single wine entity locked away in the far north of Italy among the soaring peaks of the Dolomites. Trentino is in fact its own autonomous province with its capital city Trento, its own cultural identity and a unique enological philosophy. Because I believe that the key to understanding Italian wine involves greater territorial context, I have created two reports for the wines of Trentino and Alto Adige respectively.

Trentino is the southern half of the Trentino-Alto Adige grouping. This means that its climate is shaped by the Mediterranean influences that extend to the southern slopes of the Italian Alps. The Dolomite Mountains begin to stand tall immediately after the plains of the Veneto and Verona to the south. That change in topography and elevation is outstanding and a sight to behold. I can't think of a more dramatic or sudden scenery switch anywhere else in Italy. Because the southern reaches of Trentino (at the "trident," or the confluence of three mountainous valleys after which Trentino is named) share similar climatic characteristics as the Veneto, this mountain province is home to Italy's northern-most lemon and olive trees. They stop growing after this point. Local farming also prizes apple orchards and the valley floors are blanketed with the apple cultivars that are chosen by Trentino agriculture. In fact, apple and grape farming share many similar characteristics in Trentino. Most significant is the effect of the steep diurnal shifts between day and nighttime temperatures on the color, aromas and acidity of these two distinct fruits. When apples begin their color variation - with distinct streaks of red and orange that descend along the outer skin of a deliciously sweet Val di Non apple - vintners liken the process to grape veraison that takes place later in the summer. In addition to the locally celebrated Val di Non cultivar, Trentino produces other highly fragrant apples such as Granny Smith, Royal Gala and Golden Delicious. Similar aromatic intensity and fragrances are evident in the areas white and red wines.

In addition to the many apple cultivars, Trentino boasts its unique patrimony of indigenous grapes. These include the lean-bodied Marzemino and Schiava, as well as the full-bodied Lagrein and Teroldego. In contrast to Trentino, Alto Adige is primarily focused on the production of international and German varietals. Those grapes - ranging from Pinot Grigio to Pinot Noir - are cultivated here as well, but Trentino places equal emphasis on international and indigenous grapes alike. One of the protagonists of Trentino wine is the Sassicaia-inspired Tenuta San Leonardo that has been doing magnificent work with Carmenère. If you'd like to read the vertical tasting I did of the age-worth San Leonardo wines, click here.

A Vintage Recap

The 2015 vintage awarded local vintners a long growing season and steady ripening of fruit. Like elsewhere in Italy, this year is defined by particularly vibrant and saturated colors in both the grapes and the wines. Some areas of Italy reported problems obtaining ideal acidity readings, but this was not an issue in the cool climate mountainous north of Italy. The 2014 vintage saw reduced yields. Soggy and cool weather throughout the summer meant that vintners had to be very careful about fruit selection. Some of the white wines are disappointing, watery and lean in texture. In general, 2014 will offer a shorter drinking window. The 2013 vintage saw good summer growing conditions without significant heat spikes. The fruit ripened without significant issues.


—Monica Larner

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