Castel Sallegg Sudtirol-Alto Adige Lagrein 2008
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A mountainous northern Italian region heavily influenced by German culture, Trentino-Alto Adige is actually made up of two separate but similar regions: Alto Adige and Trentino.
Trentino, the southern half, is primarily Italian-speaking and largely responsible for the production of non-native, international grapes. There is a significant quantity of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Merlot produced. But Trentino's native and most unique red variety, Teroldego, while still rare, is gaining popularity. It produces a deeply colored red wine rich in wild blackberry, herb, coffee and cocoa.
The rugged terrain of German-speaking Alto Adige (also referred to as Südtirol) focuses on small-scale viticulture, with great value placed on local varieties—though international varieties have been widely planted since the 1800s. Sheltered by the Alps from harsh northerly winds, many of the best vineyards are at extreme altitude but on steep slopes to increase sunlight exposure.
Dominant red varieties include the bold, herbaceous Lagrein and delicate, strawberry-kissed, Schiava, in addition to some Pinot Nero.
The primary white grapes are Pinot grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot blanc, as well as smaller plantings of Sauvignon blanc, Müller Thurgau. These tend to be bright and refreshing with crisp acidity and just the right amount of texture. Some of the highest quality Pinot grigio in Italy is made here.
Incredibly concentrated and uncommonly sturdy in character, Lagrein has roots in the Alto Adige area and has recently experienced a great renaissance in popularity. While the climate is cool there, the sun is intense on the region’s steep slopes. Warm hillsides near the bustling city of Bolzano create the perfect environment for the production of intense reds from Lagrein. Somm Secret— Lagrein Kretzer (German) or Rosato (Italian) is the spicy rosé version, which is delicious with smoked fish and white meat.