Friday, May 25, 2012

Italian Wine: Eisacktaler Kellerei Sudtirol Lagrein 2009

A new Italian restaurant has opened in Los Angeles, Victor Casanova’s Gusto.  Just down 3rd Street from the Beverly Center, Gusto is tiny - probably no more than a few dozen seats.  That makes the wine list seem even bigger, and I like that.  It’s an eclectic and wide-ranging menu of wines which offers a lot for a grape geek to get excited about.

I couldn’t resist the call of the Lagrein, a grape which is terribly underrepresented on L.A. wine lists - even in Italian restaurants.  This Lagrein comes from Eisacktaler Kellerei, a winery in the Valle Isarco region of northern Italy’s Sudtirol in Alto Adige.  I’ve had their Kerner before and was quite impressed with it.  Their website describes the area beautifully: “where glaciers meet the gentle hillside landscapes of the Mediterranean.”  The Lagrein is grown in the gravelly soil of Gries near Bolzano.

The Kellerei Lagrein also made an impression on me.  It’s a richly aromatic wine which broods darkly in the glass.  A tarry nose has a floral element, but it puts me in mind of a rather mean flower.  The whole essence of the wine seems very dark visually as well as aromatically.  The palate shows very nice acidity with fairly stiff tannins. Blackberry and smoke flavors are deep and imposing. 

The pairing with my fennel sausage pasta was good, but this wine will stand up to much heavier, beefier plates, too.

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