Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Alto Adige Wine: Lagrein From An Abbey

A recent online tasting session featuring wines of Italy’s Alto Adige region was put on by Alto Adige Wines and Bottlenotes and was hosted by Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and acting editor-in-chief of the daily email blast, The Daily Sip. Participants tasted the eight wines and chatted in virtual fashion about their swirling, smelling and sipping experiences. 

The Alto Adige region is located in the far northern reaches of Italy, just below Austria. Italian and German are spoken in the region, and it is not uncommon to find German words on the labels of the region’s wines.

@thedailysip commented during the event that, "Alto Adige can be the #GoldilocksWine between the light wines of summer and dense bold wines of winter." @KMacWine tweeted, "@AltoAdigeWines can often be overlooked. That can have an upside: great value." That is one of my favorite tricks when looking for a great wine deal - an overlooked wine region.

Here are the Alto Adige wines featured during the virtual tasting event:

Castel Sallegg Pulvernai Pinot Grigio 2014 
Alois Lageder Porer Pinot Grigio 2013
Cantina Terlano Vorberg Pinot Bianco 2012 
Colterenzio Prail Sauvignon 2013 
Cantina Andrian Gew├╝rztraminer 2014
Kellerei Kaltern Caldaro Pfarrhof Kalterersee Auslese 2013
Erste + Neue Mezzan Pinot Nero 2013
Abbazia di Novacella Praepositus Lagrein 2010

Abbazia di Novacella Praepositus Lagrein 2010 (Alto Adige, Italy) $34

During the social media event, @AltoAdigeWines tweeted,"Get ready for a truly unique varietal that is native to Alto Adige: #Lagrein!" They added, "The first documented mention of #Lagrein in Alto Adige was in the year 1318."

The Abbazia di Novacella Praepositus is imported by Michael Skurnik Wines, and they offer a bit of history about the producer.

“Located in the sleepy little burg of Novacella, in the Isarco River Valley," they write, "Abbazia was founded in 1142 by the Augustinian Order of Canons Regular. The Augustians are not monks in the sense that you may be familiar with. They have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to their superiors, but they also work to support themselves as a part of their community. To this end, the Abbey not only grows grapes for winemaking, but also farms apples and vegetables, and there is a small school devoted primarily to studies of viticulture. The abbey’s reputation as a winery is stellar and international.  In 2009, Italy’s influential Gambero Rosso named Celestino Lucin, the abbey’s enologist, winemaker of the year." 

Skurnik adds that while the winery has not done the bureaucratic legwork necessary to achieve Italy's organic certification, "the estate is practicing organic."

Fermentation for this Lagrein occurs in stainless steel tanks, with regular punchdowns for almost three weeks to maximize the skin contact. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to complete and the wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, then nine months in the bottle. Alcohol is moderate at 13.5% abv.

On the social media front, @KMacWine tweeted, "#Lagrein is a wine that every serious wine lover should know. Definitely try to find one if you haven’t tried it before."

This red wine is very dark, both in appearance and in smell. The wine's nose offers lovely aromas of blackberry and blueberry draped in savory notes of spice, herb and black olives. The palate is just as complex, with black berries, anise, a little tar and a trace of espresso.

@AltoAdigeWines advises pairing the 2010 Abbazia di Novacella Praepositus Lagrein with roasted meats & aged cheeses. @thedailysipsuggestspairing this Lagrein "with a Weinkase Lagrein (aka wine cheese), which is made by aging the cheese in #Lagrein wine." 

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