Wine


The production of wine, especially white wine, both in Trentino and Alto Adige, is one of the most important activities of the area for historical reasons. The Roman emperor Augustus already showed his enthusiasm for these wines and Pliny the Elder mentions in his Naturali Historia that the people of Trentino were the first to introduce the preservation of wine in wooden casks bound with wicker, as seen in some remains found near Bolzano. In 92 AD the Emperor Diocletian issued an edict which prohibited the cultivation of grape vines in the provinces external to Northern Italy. Trentino Alto Adige was immediately able to export its wines into the areas which fell under the prohibition, and the exportation continued even when the grapevines began to flourish again in the Danube and Moselle valleys.
In the Middle Ages the cultivation of grapes, like so many other activities, passed into the hands of the monastic orders, especially the Benedictines and the Dominicans. In fact, some of the most important monasteries of Bavaria and Swabia acquired important extensions of vineyards in Trentino which remained in their hands until Napoleon's expropriation.
In the 1800's the great German poet Goethe, passing through the area of Bolzano one September, noted the grape vines in the valley which "opened out to the south" which were arranged in long, low arbours, with hanging, blue bunches of grapes. He was fascinated by them, as were many other visitors both foreign and Italian.
The most well known white wines from Alto Adige are:
Pinot Bianco (Weissburgunder), from a vine originating in France, with a wine making tradition which, according to more than one source, dates back to the seventh and sixth centuries BC.
Pinot Bianco has a straw yellow colour, with a distinctive and agreeable aroma. The flavour is pleasantly bitterish, properly acidic, rich and distinctive. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
It should be consumed within its first year. A spumante version is foreseen.
Chardonnay is a very precocious species of vine which adapts itself well especially in rainy areas. It originated in France where it is very widespread and it is becoming ever better known in our country.
Chardonnay comes from a grape of the same name. It has a greenish yellow colour and a delicate, fruity aroma. Its flavour is dry, rich, full and well recognisable. Its minimum alcohol content is 11 percent.
It should be consumed within its first year. A spumante version is foreseen.
Pinot Grigio (Rülander) is from a vine of French origin which comes exactly from the lands of Burgundy, the birthplace of all Pinots.
It has a straw yellow colour and a not very marked but agreeable aroma. The flavour is dry, full, harmonious and distinctive. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
It should be consumed within its first year. A spumante version is foreseen.
The origin of the grapevine of the Riesling Italico (Welschriesling) is unknown; this vine is considered to be a lesser relative of the Riesling Rennano. It has been noteworthy and cultivated in Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige for more than a century. It offers valuable table wines.
It has a light straw yellow colour with a tendency toward pale green, with a delicate, agreeable aroma. The taste is dry, full and light bodied. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent and should be consumed young.
Müller-Thurgau was created by the Swiss researcher from which it gets it name.
The wine has a straw yellow colour with a tendency towards green with a lightly aromatic, delicate aroma and a dry, fruity, soft flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
It should be consumed when still young.
Riesling Rennano (Rheinriesling) is a vine which has long been cultivated in the Rhine and Moselle valleys, where highly celebrated wines are produced. It was imported into Italy in the last century and it found its natural habitat in Trentino Alto Adige. It produces wines so highly esteemed that they are included in the aristocracy of Italian wine making.
The wine has straw yellow colour with a tendency towards green, a pleasingly delicate aroma, agreeable and distinctive, and a dry, fruity, agreeably acidulous flavour with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
It should be consumed in its first year.
A tourist who enters Italy from the Brenner Pass and continues along the Bressanone road, near the border, can make out cheerful vineyards at an altitude of 800 metres (2500 feet). Among the cultivated vines is the Sylvaner, imported from the banks of the Rhine and transplanted in these charming places (quite cold due to the high altitude) by Giovanni Huber of Evans in the first half of the nineteenth century. The vine finds a suitable atmosphere which allows for a regular ripening of the grapes and a wine which is more than excellent.
The wine has a straw yellow colour with a tendency towards green with an agreeable, distinctive, fruity aroma. It proves to be delicately dry, fresh and harmonious to the taste with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent. Like the others, it should also be consumed in its first year.
Sauvignon comes from one of the vines with white grapes most widely cultivated in Bordeaux, where it contributes to the production of the famous Sauternes wines.
It was introduced into Italy some time ago, in Trentino Alto Adige as well, but it is not exceptionally well known.
The Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer) has grapes of a distinctive amber pink colour, which bear a close resemblance to those described by Pliny in his 'Naturalis Historia', and are also able to resist the iciest years.
It should be consumed within one year of production.
Alto Adige Spumante is made mostly from Pinot Bianco and/or Chardonnay grapes and, in a limited quantity, from Pinot Nero and/or Pinot Grigio grapes.
It has a fine froth, regular and persistent. It has a straw yellow colour with pale green reflections. It has a fine, delicate aroma slightly reminiscent of yeast. Its flavour is dry if it is of the "extra-brut" type, lightly sweetish if of the "brut" type, soft and suitably full. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
It should be consumed in its first year, so that it doesn't lose its pleasant, fruity aroma. If, however, it is made with the champenois method, it has a longer period of preservation.
Various vines with white fruit are grown in the Terlano/Terlaner production area, from which many wines are produced, some of them highly regarded.
The Chardonnay has a greenish yellow colour, a delicate, distinctive, fruity, and a zesty flavour, dry, full and distinctive. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
The Pinot Bianco has the same minimum alcohol content, with a colour ranging from greenish yellow to golden. It has a distinctive aroma and a dry flavour of medium fullness.
The Italic Riesling has a greenish yellow colour and a distinctive aroma of grapevines with a dry, racy, harmonious, full-bodied flavour. It has an alcohol content of 11.5 percent. The Riesling Renano has a greenish yellow colour with a tendency toward yellow, a distinctive aroma of grapevines, and a dry, full-bodied, harmonious taste. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
The Sauvignon has a colour ranging from greenish yellow to straw yellow, with a delicate, lightly aromatic aroma. Its flavour is distinctive and full, with a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. The Sylvaner has a greenish yellow colour, a delicate, distinctive aroma, and a harmonious, full-bodied flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent. The Müller-Thurgau has a straw yellow colour with a tendency toward green, a distinctive, delicate aroma accompanied by a dry, pleasingly acidulous, fruity flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
All the wines with the denomination "Alto Adige-Terlano" may be produced as spumante with the following characteristics: a fine, regular, persistent froth; a straw yellow colour with pale green reflections; a fine, delicate, slightly yeasty aroma; a dry flavour if of the "extra-brut" type or slightly sweetish if of the "brut" type, soft and appropriately full.
As far as red wines are concerned, the following should be remembered:
The Cabernet-Lagrein has a ruby red colour, intense to the point of garnet red. It has a distinctive aroma, lightly herbaceous and etheric, with a dry, soft, full, slightly tannic flavour and a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent. The Cabernet-Merlot has the same minimum alcohol content but the colour is of an inferior tone. In terms of aroma and flavour it has quite similar characteristics.
The cultivation of Lagrein vines, which originated in Gries, a place near Bolzano, goes back to a period around the year 1000, when the cultivation of the ancient Bishop's property was particularly noteworthy. Even in those times, the wines of Bolzano were already famous, not so much in our country but on the other side of the Alps. The Lagrein stood out among them, known in the "rosato" and "scuro" varieties.
The rosé variety (Kretzer) is produced with grapes from a vine of the same name, and the wine obtained has a light ruby red colour, rosy with salmon reflections, and a not very intense aroma, delicate and agreeable. It has an elegant, fresh, harmonious and not very full-bodied flavour with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent. Its best attributes stand out in the first year.
The dark Lagrein has an intense ruby red colour and a sharp, agreeable aroma typical of the variety. It has a soft, velvety, full flavour and a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
It may be consumed within a year or aged in the "riserva" variety, depending on the tastes of the drinker.
Merlot is one of the French vines imported into Italy in the last century from its area or origin, Burgundy, and with which an early-drinking table wine is produced. It has a ruby red colour and an agreeable, distinctive, herbaceous aroma. Its flavour is full, zesty, dry and lightly herbaceous and it has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent. It is also produced in the "riserva" type.
It should be consumed in its first two years.
Merlot rosé (Merlot Kretzer) has a rosy colour with orange reflections and a lightly herbaceous, distinctive and agreeable aroma. Its flavour is dry, fresh and lightly herbaceous with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
Pinot Nero (Blauburgunder) comes from France. With a particular production technique, excellent spumante can also be made.
The wine, made of grapes from a vine with the same name, has a ruby red colour that takes on some orange tones with ageing. The aroma is etheric, distinctive and agreeable with a dry, soft, full and harmonious flavour and a bitterish after taste. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5. A "riserva" type is foreseen.
By the fifteen hundreds, the cultivation of Schiava vines was already taking place in Alto Adige, to the extent that new establishments were advised. At the end of the last century Schiava Grossa dominated the hills of Meranese while, near Bolzano, the first establishments of Schiava Gentile Grigia turned up.
Schiava wine has a colour which can vary from red to light or medium ruby red. Its aroma is not very intense but is agreeable, fruity and distinctive. It has a soft, agreeable flavour, slightly almondy. It has a minimum alcohol content of 10.5 percent.
Schiava Grigia has an alcohol content higher by one percent. It has a light to medium ruby red colour and a delicate, agreeable, distinctive, fruity aroma and a soft, agreeable, almondy flavour.
It should be consumed in its first year.
Among the red wines prepared with various types of Schiava grapes, the following should be remembered:
Meranese di Collina (Meraner Hüger) has a light to medium ruby red colour and a distinctive, lightly perfumed aroma. Its flavour is full and harmonious and it has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
It should be consumed in its first year.
Santa Maddalena grapes get their name from a small town near Bolzano, surrounded by flourishing, wonderfully cared-for vineyards, where there is a small church of the same name.
Toward the year 1000, when the Bavarian and Suevian convents possessed numerous properties in the valley of Bolzano and the Adige River valley, many vines were cultivated to produce the wines which were indispensable for the celebration of mass. Some of these properties were situated on the Santa Maddelena hill and the Schiava grapes probably produced a wine very similar in character to that of modern times.
From the vines of the Santa Maddelena hills and its neighbouring districts, a wine of the same name is produced (St. Magdalener). It has a colour which ranges from ruby red to intense garnet red, a vinous, distinctive aroma and a perfume which recalls that of violets and almonds, more accentuated, however, and etheric after a brief ageing. Its flavour is velvety, reminiscent of almonds, zesty, full, and quite full-bodied. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
Its best characteristics come out in its first three years.
Caldaro, in its three types of "classico", "classico superiore" and "scelto", is produced in an area of production of the same name. It has a colour ranging from ruby red to garnet red with an agreeable, perfumed, fruity aroma. It has a soft, harmonious, lightly almondy flavour and a minimum alcohol content of 10.5 percent (11.5 percent for the "scelto" type).
Teroldego Rotaliano rosé has a rosy colour with a tendency toward garnet red and slight, agreeable, fruity aroma. Its flavour is full, dry and slightly bitterish with a light almondy vein. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
Its best sensory characteristics come out in its first two years, the period in which it is best consumed.
The red variety, which has the same minimum alcohol content as the last type, has a somewhat intense ruby red colour, sometimes bordering on violet. Its aroma is distinctive, somewhat intense and pleasantly fruity. It has a dry, intense, full and slightly bitterish flavour with a light taste of almonds, suitably full-bodied and slightly tannic.
A "riserva" version is foreseen.
It is best appreciated in its first three years.
The "superiore" type has a more or less intense ruby red colour with a tendency toward brick red. It has an agreeable, etheric, distinctive and persistent aroma. Its flavour is dry, zesty and full with a pleasantly bitterish after taste, a little bit tannic and harmonious. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent.
The bottled wine, if left in a horizontal position, may be kept for at least two or three years.
As far as the Province of Trent is concerned, remember that it has always been the habit to make separate wines from the grapes of many cultivated vines.
The principal white wines are:
Müller-Thurgau has a straw yellow colour with pale green reflections, a delicate, slightly aromatic aroma and a dry, fresh, fruity, harmonious flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.
Nosiola has a straw yellow colour, a fine, delicate and distinctive aroma and a dry, full, slightly bitterish flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 10.5 percent.
Pinot Bianco has a straw yellow colour and a delicate, fine and distinctive aroma. Its flavour is dry, slightly bitterish, harmonious and smooth. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent. It is also produced in a "spumante" type.
Pinot Grigio, which has the same minimum alcohol content as the previous type, has a straw yellow colour, sometimes coppery, and an agreeable, distinctive aroma. Its flavour is dry, full and harmonious. It is also produced in a "spumante" type.
Italic Riesling has a light straw yellow colour with a tendency toward pale green. It has an agreeable and distinctive aroma and a dry, pleasingly acidulous, fruity flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 10.5 percent.
Traminer Aromatico, also with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent, has a straw yellow colour with a tendency toward golden. It has an aromatic, intense and distinctive flavour and an aromatic, fine, delicate, distinctive flavour.
Remember also the following red wines:
Marzemino, also with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent, has a ruby red colour and a distinctive, marked aroma. Its flavour is dry, full, agreeable and slightly herbaceous.
Merlot, with the same minimum alcohol content as the preceding type, has a ruby red colour and a distinctive, marked aroma. Its flavour is dry, full and agreeable.
Pinot Nero has a ruby red colour, sometimes rosy, with a delicate, agreeable, distinctive aroma. Its flavour is dry and pleasingly bitterish. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.