Wine-Region Trentino-Alto Adige
Trentino-South Tyrol, in Italian Trentino-Alto Adige, is the northernmost wine-growing region in Italy. It stretches from the Garda Mountains to the Austrian border. Different soils and climate zones from alpine to Mediterranean allow the cultivation of numerous white and red grape varieties. Over 90 percent of the wines from this region have DOC standard.
What characterizes the wine styles of Trentino and Alto Adige?
A majestic, omnipresent mountain backdrop, rugged cliffs, deep valleys and picturesque vineyards at altitudes of up to 1,000 metres - Trentino and Alto Adige are in no way inferior to each other in terms of scenic beauty and romantic local colour. While the Alto Adige is considered a guarantor for mineral and fruit-laden, aromatic white wines, the wine-growing areas of Trentino stand mainly for lighter red wines suitable for everyday use. This differentiation generalizes very strongly, but is reflected in the comparison of the production figures: while almost two thirds of the approximately 5,500 hectares of wine growing area in Alto Adige are reserved for white wine production, the ratio of white to red plants is reversed on the almost 10,000 hectares of vineyards in Trentino.
The Terroir - Climate and Soils in Trentino-Alto Adige
Steep slopes on the upper Adige, in the Valle Isarco and in the Vintschgau make up the largest part of the Alto Adige's vineyard area. The alpine continental climate in the north is characterised by great differences in temperature, both between day and night and throughout the year. From the south, sub-Mediterranean climate radiates far into the cooler regions. The contrasting, changing weather conditions create diverse microclimates in a very small area, which are reflected in the different composition of the soils: On sandy primary rock, barren slate and gravel soils, quartz-rich porphyry and calcareous gourmet soils thrive above all excellent white vines and some delicious red wines.
Trentino also offers a wide variety of weather conditions thanks to the great differences in altitude - from the mild, Mediterranean climate around Lake Garda and the Vallagarina Valley to the Nordic cold of the glacier regions. Overall, however, Trentino has better weather conditions for the production of red wine - the majority of the vineyards enjoy a moderate climate, with snow in winter and reasonably warm summers.
The grape varieties in Trentino-Alto Adige
The nine DOCs of Trento and Bolzano include numerous immigrated classics and a considerable number of indigenous plants. The latter, especially the red Alto Adige Vernatsch and Lagrein, are increasingly attracting attention on the international wine scene.
Simply stunning: the whites of Alto Adige
Crisp, fresh Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, like the Cantina Terlan wines grown on stony sandy soils, Chardonnay matured in barrique barrels and delicate, fully fermented Rieslings with little residual sweetness - the white wines from the steep, protected slopes of the Adige and Eisack valleys are among the best that Italian viticulture has to offer.
Further south, the white grape varieties play a rather secondary role - apart from the uncomplicated " evergreen" Pinot Grigio.
In addition to the classics, most of which were introduced in the 19th century, indigenous white vines also hold their own in the region: the low-acid, aromatic Gewürztraminer has been documented in Alto Adige since the 11th century. With a broad spectrum of oriental spices and tropical notes, the Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC of Cantina Tramin, for example, is an excellent accompaniment to seafood, curries and blue cheeses. The age of the Nosiola grape, however, which is considered the oldest grape variety with white berries in Trentino, is not known. What is certain is that without it the legendary dessert wine Vino Santo Trentino DOC from Valle dei Laghi would not exist.
The Reds - a broad spectrum from youthful jesters to trendsetters full of personality
The classic red grape varieties also came to Trentino-Alto Adige between 1850 and 1900. In addition to the well-structured, splendid Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc have gained a foothold here and are also impressive as cuvées blended with Merlot.
However, the typical red wine in Alto Adige is of a very special nature: various local varieties have become (still) secret stars. Indigenous plants such as the low-tannin, fruity, light Vernatsch (Schiava in Trentino-Alto Adige, Trollinger in Germany) and the velvety, full-bodied Lagrein in Alto Adige have long been enjoyed not only by the locals. The same is true for Trentino wines such as the berry and finely spiced Teroldego and the fruity, full-bodied Marzemino, which was appreciated by Mozart's Don Giovanni. Palate delights such as the Lagrein-Vernatsch-Cuvée Kolbenhofer Vernatsch Schiava from the Hofstätter winery in Alto Adige have long since found their way across the borders.
Trentino - a stronghold of Spumante
The fact that, virtually as a counter-programme to red wine in Trentino, Chardonnay, of all things, has been gaining ground in recent decades is due to the constantly increasing demand for Italian sparkling wines. Besides Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, Chardonnay is a basic wine for the production of sparkling wine. An brilliant example of a traditionally bottle-fermented Spumante is the award-winning, soft and elegant Perlé Rosé Riserva from the renowned Ferrari Winery (not related to the racing stable of the same name).
Things worth knowing about Trentino-Alto Adige
What is the layout of the vineyards in Trentino-Alto Adige?
Vertical trellis or horizontal leaf canopy - this is the question that divides the minds. The pergola, also known as pergola or roof-roofing, has been in use since ancient times. It was first documented in Bolzano in the 15th century. In pergola training, the vines entwine themselves along a two to four meter high, roof-like scaffolding. This creates a more or less dense canopy of leaves from which the grapes hang down. All maintenance work is done from below and can only be mechanised to a limited extent. Many winegrowers therefore converted to the less complex trellis training. In contrast, the pergola is still (or once again) very common in many vineyards in the region. Its advantage is that the canopy of leaves protects the grapes from too much sunlight at midday. In the mornings and evenings, sufficient sunlight falls in through side and central entrances. The leaf canopies of modern pergola cultivation are inclined at 45 degrees or steeper, depending on the location, which allows additional light to enter and promotes air circulation.
What DOCs are there in Trentino/Alto Adige?
Nowhere else in Italy is there a higher proportion of "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" (DOC for short, similar to the German Q.b.A = quality wine of certain growing areas) than in its northernmost region. Around 85 percent of Trentino's wine-growing areas are currently under DOC protection, and almost 99 percent of wine in Alto Adige comes from DOC areas.
DOC in Trentino
- Casteller DOC
- Teroldego Rotaliano DOC
- Trentino DOC
- Trento DOC
DOC in the Alto Adige
- Alto Adige or South Tyrol DOC
- Delle Venezie DOC (Veneto, Friuli and Trentino)
- Lago di Caldaro, Caldaro, Lake Caldaro or Caldaro DOC (Trentino and Alto Adige)
- Valdadige or Etschtaler DOC (Trentino, Alto Adige, Verona)
- Valdadige Terradeiforti or Terradeiforti DOC (Trentino and Verona)
How do organization and marketing work in Trentino-Alto Adige?
Until a few decades ago, most of the Alto Adige vineyards produced and marketed their own wines; today, almost three-quarters of South Tyrolean wines are produced in twelve cooperative vineyards and sold through them. In order to maintain and increase the quality standards of wine production, the interest groups of cellar cooperatives, wineries and the independent winegrowers of South Tyrol have joined together to form the "Consortium South Tyrol Wine". The situation is different in Trentino: here, wine production has long been the responsibility of three cooperatives, most of which have been active for a long time. A counter-program to the resulting quantity of pleasing everyday wines is emerging in the Vignaioli del Trentino. The "Community of Wine Growers" is made up of a gradually growing number of wineries and private cellars, which focus on individualistic notes.
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