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6 Fine Italian White Wines from Alois Lageder

6 Fine Italian White Wines from Alois Lageder

Alois Lageder is one of the most popular and well-respected wine producers in Alto Adige, that part of Italy in the Dolomite Mountains bordering the Alps. Alto Adige was once part of Austria and is also known as Südtirol.

Lageder makes very enjoyable wines, especially white, that are also generally quite affordable. Many of the grapes are estate grown and are biodynamic, plus Lageder, a patron of the arts, has received considerable attention for playing classical music to the slumbering wines in some of his cellars.

The winery itself is quite beautiful and a wonderful place to visit should you find yourself in the region near the lovely city of Bolzano, north of Verona.

Here are the recent releases from three of the winery’s product lines, Alois Lageder, Tenutae Lageder and Riff:

2012 Riff Terra Alpina Pinot grigio ($10): Apple-pear fruitiness with some bitters around the edges — full, pleasant, uncomplicated.

2012 Alois Lageder “Dolomiti” Pinot grigio IGT ($15): Quite interesting, complex wine with good balance — first tart, prickly fruit followed by mellow apples, then chalky notes and a finish of apple skins. Full without being heavy, this is my ‘Pick of the Litter.’

2012 Tenutae Lageder “Porer” Alto Adige Pinot grigio ($25): From biodynamic grapes, there are nice notes here of citrus and pineapple to go along with the crisp apples. There is lot of energy in this wine; quite nice.

2012 Alois Lageder “Dolomiti” Pinot bianco IGT ($14): Nice and lively with moderate green fruits, a little minty, and some white pepper on the edges; pairs well with shellfish.

2012 Alois Lageder “Haberle” Alto Adige Pinot bianco ($22): Aged on fine lees, this is a mellow, creamy wine, yet one with crispness, very nice complexity, and savory notes on the finish. I kept thinking veal scallopini with a dash of lemon as I was writing my notes.

2012 Alois Lageder “Dolomiti” Müller Thurgau IGT ($15) Müller Thurgau is a fairly popular grape in Alto Adige, where it makes better wine than most places. Here it has an earthy apple flavor with some nice minerality.


Roger Jones recommends the best white wines from Alto Adige

In this report top chef and Buyer contributing editor Roger Jones explores the white wines of the Alto Adige region with a special focus on Gewürztraminer – so often tasting of ‘granny’s face powder’ but here in the most Northern part of Italy produced in a dry style wine with a delicate fragrance of lychees, crisp Turkish Delight, pink grapefruit, very fine perfume with a lovely fresh acidity. Jones also highlights wineries that had exceptional white wine and those making wines made from unusual varieties such as Solaris.

In this report top chef and Buyer contributing editor Roger Jones explores the white wines of the Alto Adige region with a special focus on Gewürztraminer – so often tasting of ‘granny’s face powder’ but here in the most Northern part of Italy produced in a dry style wine with a delicate fragrance of lychees, crisp Turkish Delight, pink grapefruit, very fine perfume with a lovely fresh acidity. Jones also highlights wineries that had exceptional white wine and those making wines made from unusual varieties such as Solaris.

By Roger Jones October 10, 2019

Jones recently visited South Tyrol as a guest of The Consortium of Alto Adige Wines [Südtirol Wein], for the bi annual Alto Adige Wine Summit. Keen to learn more about this region, Jones was suitably impressed by all aspects of the region – but, in particular, it was the white wines that stood out for him.

A short flight to Verona from Gatwick then a rather speedy 90-minute classic Italian ride in a bright yellow minibus brings us to Bolzano. Very quickly my six words of Italian were useless as this community speaks a German dialect, not quite Bavarian, although some of the dress code is. They are similar to Alsace when it comes to football where Alsace is divided between France and Germany – here it’s a straight battle between Italy and Germany for their support.

There was a real buzz as we were entertained on the first evening at the Maretsch Castle, with top chefs brought in to help us all celebrate the local food and drink. Over 100 global wine journalists, MWs and educators attended the three-day summit.

One often gets ear bashed with the term terroir, whether this relates to geography, geology, climate, and cultural or social factors.

Here it can be clearly defined by looking at the landscape the breathtaking mountain and valley scenes, where the cold snap of the Alps meets the colourful Italian Mediterranean climate. Snow covered peaks overlook citrus trees, sunny skies and ice-cold winds.

The culture, a mix of Austria, Germany and Italy giving a lovely breadth to the style of wine socially it’s all about food and glorious food with wine and music (it was an added bonus to some of us wine journalists who welcomed the late night music bands outside our hotel, to others it was not).

It was fascinating hiking high up the mountainous valleys and seeing the variety of soil type, slope and style of growing conditions. This gave a far better impression of the region as a whole rather than the forum held during the conference on one of the mornings, which at times was more akin to a House of Commons debate – some strong views being expressed without a combined team marketing plan or (dare I say?) listening to the audience questions.

There were still arguments on what to call the region – South Tyrol, Alto Adige, Sudtirol or Trentino. There were also discussions on extending (or not) the grape verities. But despite these little political disruptions I was very impressed with what this region can produce and its amazing hospitality.

Another hugely important aspect of this region is the quality of their cooperatives, which produce world class wine that is no mean thing when dealing with so many growers.

98% of wines produced here are DOC level, which is unique in Italy. 62% of production is white, with Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay showcasing well.

Alto Adige is not known for its skimpy food portions. Here there is oxtail risotto, with blue cheese, garlic, brown bread and wild cabbage. One of four courses.

Gewürztraminer is pretty special here and the Alto Adige winegrowing village of Tramin (Termeno in Italian, or Traminer in German) seems to have lent its name to this charismatic wine grape, according to the locals.

Gewürztraminer is far more than the poor imitations that we sometimes get that can taste of ‘granny’s face powder’, this is a style that is superb not only as an aperitif but fabulous with all types of fine food.

No-one stand on the scales when you get home.

Can we compare these Gewürztraminers to the ones from Alsace? Yes, in that there are marked differences in my mind, firstly the classification here in Alto Adige only goes up to Reserve so no Grand Cru, the majority of ageing is in stainless steel or neutral oak, hence they are best drinking younger with a capacity to shine up to five years old. However, there is a new format that some are experimenting with and that is ageing in old silver mines for up to six years. On the whole it’s the drier style they produced with a delicate fragrance lychees, crisp Turkish Delight, pink grapefruit, very fine perfume with a lovely fresh acidity.

Tasting of Gewürztraminer

I was lucky enough to be taken on a bespoke Gewürztraminer mini-tour of vineyards and to meet some of the leading winemakers over lunch here are some of the many highlights:

Kellerei Kurtatsch, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer 2018

This to me gives a complete outlook for Alto Adige and their style, fresh and vibrant, clean precision, bright purity, lovely harmony from mountain herbaceous floral tones to delicate exotic fruit base with that crisp alpine finishes. I would drink this anytime, with or without food with or without company, it is just that perfect glass brimming with confidence but restrained in its expression.

Kellerei Kurtatsch, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Riserva Brenntal 2016

Complete contrast to the youthful 2018 this wine was richly textured with yellow plums, lovely complexity and depth searching out for that saffron risotto. Rich on he mid palate but the finish has a lovely moreish acidity, which enhances the experience especially with food.

Weingut Ritterhof, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Auratus 2018

Auratus means gold, and this wine had a golden expression, it was fresh focussed and clean, a balance between lychees and yellow mountain flowers and herbs. It is full flavoured but the freshness from the acidity cleans the finish.

Tiefenbrunner – Schlosskellerei Turmhof, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Selida 2017

Focused, some minerality, smart clean and bright. This has a lovely balance between retrained spices and elegant stone fruit, there is a complexity and lift to this wine that elevates it.

Tiefenbrunner – Schlosskellerei Turmhof, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Tardus Spatlese 2015

Wow this was pretty special, golden colour, textured and luscious, deep depth of flavours. Lychees, white flowers, crisp fresh acidity at the end to produce a pretty complete wine. Yes the grapes are ripe but this layered wine carries them well and would sit well on any fine dining table.

Kellerei Tramin, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Selida 2018

Focused, nutty, dry aromatics, fresh and good minerals. Multi flavoured with roses, spiced herbs & flowers, passion fruit and rich on the palate with delicate spices and acidity.

Kellerei Tramin, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Nussbaumer 2017

Rose petals, mango, passion fruit, lychees, ginger and saffron all combine to give a rich textured wine that has that alpine freshness to balance and produce such a gold star wine.

Kellerei Tramin, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Epokale 2012 & 2013

I was lucky to try this wine quite a few times on the trip and look at 2 vintages. This had been aged for 6 years in the old Ridanna Monteneve silver mine in constant 11% temperature, 90% humidity at 2,000 m altitude. Richly textured, layers of fruit and spice, mellow, silky and lingering.

Elena Walch, Sudtirol Gewürztraminer Vigna Kastelaz Argentum Bonum 2013

Another wine aged in the silver mine, with the classic restrained elegance, golden colour, rich yellow plums balanced with minerals and delicate floral tones, this has aged well.

Weingut Loacker, Mitterberg Gewürztraminer Atagis 2018

Clean, spritz, fresh and lively, gentle aromatics and soft tropical fruits, easy drinking

Eisackteler Kellerei, Gewürztraminer Aristos 2018

Aromatic, fresh clove and vanilla. This is spiced focused and vibrant.

Cantina Girlan, Gewürztraminer Flora 2018

Quite and outstanding wine with a touch of stem ginger, dried rose buds, ripe fruit with an intense but clean purity.

Unusual grape verities – Solaris

This was new to me, but gaining popularity in the UK and other cool climate regions, easy ripening and needs less sun than most grapes.

Baron Longo

Weinberg Dolomiten Solaris Sichlburg 2018

This was super expressive, touch of Riesling flavour but great focus and minerals, wet stone and that piercing freshness.

This was an outstanding century old winery, and over dinner with the wine maker and family member Anton Von Longo I tried many of his wines both white and red, very special.

Bergkellerei Passeier, Weibwein Giovo 2017

This was a blend of Solaris with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, split 3 ways, it was textured and layered whilst the Solaris gave it that forward drive he chardonnay texture and Sauvignon spice and fruit.

Specific Wineries with exceptional white wines

Alois Lageder, Pinot Grigio Porer 2018
Wow this is a pretty serious grown up Pinot Grigio, focused clean and that perfect minerality, that clean fresh mountain spring water across wet stones. Some skin contact and whole bunch gives it that serious outlook, tangerine hits lush peaches with restraint.

Eisackteler Kellerei

Top and exciting young Cooperative and under their prestige Aristoslabel there are 9 wine bottling’s ranging from a peachy Muscat style Kerner with hints of apricot ice cream, to a aromatic spiced and floral Gruner Veltliner, to a vivacious Sylvanerwith mineral notes and sweet perfume.

Weingut Pacherhof

Wine maker Andrea Huber, cultivates, presses and markets these wines, all white verities coming from Eisack Valley. They have a distinct minerality to them with a lovely fruit balance.

Gump Hof, Markus Prackwieser

Superb spiced Pinot Blanc Renaissance Reserve 2016, focused, deep intensity of ripe fruit, that lingers an age but in beautiful balance whilst the Sauvignon Reserve Renaissance 2016 is very much in the Pouilly Fume camp, that lingering delicate palate and superb beautifully feminine style.

Cantina Girlan

The Reserve Flora 2017 with a trio of grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon – was textured, with bright lively stone fruit and a finish that was quite luxurious. The straight Sauvignon 2018 was akin to a Menetou Salon. The superb Gewürztraminer is already noted above.

Erste + Neue

The Pinot Blanc Puntay 2018 had some stem on he nose, and was quite funky, good acidity and lemon curd, zest, lots happening with a nice minerality, this will evolve beautifully. Whilst the Chardonnay was retrained and elegant the Sauvignon Puntay 2018 was a big, wild ferment type wine with stone fruit and tropical nuances, very New World.

Weingut Eichenstein

New World style Sauvignon Stein 2018, lychees and tropical with a mineral finish, New World meets Old World. The Riesling Athos 2018 was the best Riesling I had over the three days – focused with a lovely purity, saline and savoury, excellent.

Weingut Loacker

Weinberg Dolomiten Chardonnay Ateyon 2011

Seven years on lees, full malo, this was a star. Stunning, elegant Chardonnay, layers and layers of fruit and texture, delicate stone fruit, that classic wet river stone, touch of flint, lingers an age on the palate.

In conclusion a region of extreme powerful mountainous beauty, quite exceptional food, wines with great precision and clarity and wonderful generous hosts.


WINES

The wines from Alois Lageder’s Terra Alpina project are part of the winery’s collaboration with growers in neighboring communities to produce excellent wines representative of the Dolomite region. In the foothills of the Dolomite Range, cool Alpine and warm Mediterranean influences meet to create fresh, precise, and expressive wines with a character influenced by the prevalent Dolomitic limestone. Lageder’s holistic understanding of nature and the winery's centuries of experience help to ensure the selection of the best terroirs and the optimal exploitation of the special climatic, geological, and topographic conditions in the area.

The wines from Alois Lageder’s Terra Alpina project are part of the winery’s collaboration with growers in neighboring communities to produce excellent wines representative of the Dolomite region. In the foothills of the Dolomite Range, cool Alpine and warm Mediterranean influences meet to create fresh, precise, and expressive wines with a character influenced by the prevalent Dolomitic limestone. Lageder’s holistic understanding of nature and the winery's centuries of experience help to ensure the selection of the best terroirs and the optimal exploitation of the special climatic, geological, and topographic conditions in the area.

The Chardonnay grape variety was introduced to Alto Adige by Archduke John around 1835 and later promoted by the founder of Italy’s first school of enology. Originally known as Yellow Pinot Bianco, the variety became popular in Alto Adige in the 1980s. The grapes come from sites around Cortaccia, Magrè, Pochi, and Salorno that have the chalky gravel soils that are ideal for growing Chardonnay.

Schiava is a native grape variety that until the 1970s was central to winemaking in Alto Adige, which is why it was long considered a red wine region. As Schiava prefers the shade, Lageder continues to train the vines with the traditional pergola trellis system.

Alto Adige is one of the few winegrowing areas of Italy with optimum conditions for Pinot Noir or Pinot Nero, which is why it is today one of the main local red wines. Pinot Noir prefers cool, well-ventilated sites and calcareous gravel soils with a high loam content. The Lageder Pinot Noir comes from selected sites in Appiano, Cortaccia, and Pochi and offers a combination of finesse and body.

Lagrein is the result of a natural crossing of Trentino’s Teroldego and another native grape variety and is a relative of Syrah. It was first mentioned in association with Alto Adige in a historical document dated 1370 and has become an icon of winegrowing in Alto Adige. Lagrein flourishes in warmer sites in the Adige River valley around Bolzano where the soils are high in sand content, gravel, and porphyry.

Porer is pure Pinot Grigio, but it is far from a simple wine. This is a winemaker’s wine, all about the joy of experimenting and bringing different techniques together to produce a fascinatingly complex product. One part of the grapes was pressed immediately after harvest to keep the fresh flavors and aromas. Another part was kept on the skins for 15 hours and the third part was in contact with stems and skins for about one year, absorbing color, some tannin, and other rich flavor components.

Haberle is a blend of Pinot Bianco from two different sites in Alto Adige, with geological, microclimatic, and cultural contrasts. The grapes come partly from the Haberlehof in Pochi on the eastern side of the Adige Valley and partly from sites on the western side in Penone above the winery in Magrè, both offering optimum conditions for this grape variety.

In the 1930s Manzoni Bianco was created by Prof. Luigi Manzoni, director of the renowned Conegliano Research Center, by crossing Riesling and Pinot Bianco. Its characteristics include loose-berried clusters, thick skins, high acid levels, and lower concentrations of sugar. Those features make Manzoni Bianco attractive for Alto Adige given today’s increasingly extreme weather patterns. Lageder accentuates its flavor profile by leaving the grape juice in contact with the skins for several days.

Moscato Giallo is a relative of the more familiar Moscato Bianco—the Moscato grown in Piedmont and around the world. The natural conditions of Alto Adige are well suited to Moscato Giallo, particularly in sites such as the Vogelmaier vineyard, located in a small side valley on Lake Caldaro, ventilated by cool downslope winds at night. Unlike most Moscatos, this is a dry wine, with the typical sweet aromatics of the Moscato family but a fresh, dry finish.

The name Conus, Latin for “cone,” is a reference to the talus cone above the winery’s town of Magrè. This cone is an accumulation of rock and scree that has fallen off the dolomitic limestone cliff behind it, forming a gentle slope of loose limestone soil. Alois Lageder has been growing Lagrein grapes in the Magrè talus cone for more than a decade and has found that the calcareous nature of the soil is one of the keys to this wine’s round and fruity character.

Alois Lageder’s Löwengang Chardonnay has played a major role not only in the success of the wine estate itself but also in establishing Alto Adige's status as a quality wine region. Beginning with the 1984 vintage, Löwengang Chardonnay became the first white wine from the region to be successfully positioned at an international level. The estate comprises several smaller plots that react differently to the influences of the local weather every year. Lageder does not try to make a uniform product with this wine, but rather responds to annual conditions to make every vintage unique. The name Löwengang derives from a historical residence of the same name in Magrè that has been in the possession of the Lageder family since 1934.

The Krafuss residence, which has survived largely unchanged since the Renaissance, is owned by Roland Riz, Alois Lageder’s father-in-law. Surrounded by vineyards and orchards, the historical building reflects the economic significance that the vineyards in the area above San Michele Appiano enjoyed as early as the Middle Ages. In 1991, the vineyards atop a gentle hill were rehabilitated and planted with Pinot Noir. The combination here of elevation, exposure, soil, microclimate, and good ventilation create a mix that is ideal for Pinot Noir, which is a traditional variety in the area. In 2013, Lageder made the transition to biodynamic working, and now there are again sheep grazing on the edge of the village of Appiano.

The northwest shore of Lake Caldaro lies at the foot of a spectacular steep slope that is one of the best sites in the region. Here, Alois Lageder’s Römigberg vineyard is a 20-acre monopole that comes very close to the winery’s ideal of a farm as a self-contained living organism, with great importance attached to coexistence for human beings, animals, and plants. At Römigberg, cows, donkeys, and sheep graze between the vines and the olive and loquat trees. Bees, chickens, geese, and peacocks are among the other denizens of this very special habitat. The Schiava vines are trained using the traditional pergola trellis system, which in view of climate change and the accompanying increased alcohol content in the wines, offers better protection for the thin-skinned berries and retains the freshness and lightness of the Römigberg Schiava.

In the 1980s, discussions with wine-growers from all over the world such as Robert Mondavi, the famous pioneer of wine-growing in America, and various chateau owners in the Bordeaux region encouraged Alois Lageder to introduce Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot in the form of wire trellis system as a replacement for the traditional Schiava. The result, in 1986, was Alto Adige’s first major vineyard with densely planted Guyot-trained vines – a fact that caused much discussion. This site has traditionally been called "Herz" (German for heart or Cor in Latin) and has given the wine its name.


Italy’s Great Pinot Grigios

Wine snobs may look down upon Pinot Grigio, but I’m proud to say that I like it—as long as it’s the good stuff. There are extremely good, even excellent Pinot Grigios out there, although finding them can be a challenge.

First launched in the U.S. during the late 1970s, Pinot Grigio rose to become one of the most imported wines from Italy by the mid-1990s. These savory, refreshing offerings were polar opposites to the oaked-up, buttery and often palate-fatiguing Chardonnays that dominated the American market.

According to Anthony Terlato, chairman of Terlato Wine Group, Pinot Grigio offered both quality and clarity when he launched Santa Margherita in 1979, which put the variety on the radar of American wine drinkers.

“Italian wines that were popular in the mid-1970s had no ­varietal indication on the labels—they were just ‘Soave,’ ‘Orvieto’ or ‘Frascati,’ ” says Terlato. “I realized that Americans were increasingly looking for varietals in order to better understand wine, and they were also seeking higher-quality wines.”

He first discovered Pinot Grigio in a restaurant in Milan. Terlato asked his Italian partners to recommend producers that made good Pinot Grigio. He narrowed his search to five producers that made, “clean, fresh, aromatic wine with enough nuance to be interesting and delicious to a knowledgeable wine drinker.”

Terlato says that Santa Margherita was the first producer he called. He was so convinced about the quality of the firm’s Pinot Grigio that he positioned it in the luxury wine tier, a first for an Italian white.

“I realized that Americans were increasingly looking for varietals in order to better understand wine, and they were also seeking higher-quality wines.”

The wine was an instant success. Soon, other importers were bringing in a steady supply of Pinot Grigio. As demand surged, however, more and more producers began to turn out mediocre bottlings in industrial ­quantities.

“During the last 30 years, the quality of many Pinot Grigios declined as producers did whatever it took to meet growing demand in the U.S., such as planting on valley ­­­­floors at high yields with a focus on quantity, not quality,” says Terlato.

He recently partnered with Italy’s top viticulturists, Simonit & Sirch, and now imports his own Terlato-brand Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio’s reputation was further tarnished by rumors of watered-down wines labeled as Pinot Grigio that were actually cut with other grapes like the prolific Trebbiano.

Today, finding quality Pinot Grigio is a minefield. Offerings range from bland and dilute to full-bodied and elegant. Prices vary accordingly, as do opinions. As a result, many wine lovers avoid the category altogether, but they’re missing out.

Pinot Grigio, a darkly colored, gray-blue grape, is a mutation of Pinot Noir. It can make clean, zesty everyday whites as well as fine wines with personality and complexity. The best are mineral driven, with mouthwatering pear, peach and apple flavors offset by bright acidity and backed up by just enough weight.

Besides a producer’s commitment to quality, vineyard location is a key factor to finding the best Pinot Grigios. The grape is grown throughout Italy, but has become the flag bearer in the country’s northeast. The best areas for Pinot Grigio are select parts of Friuli and Alto Adige, the finest growing zones for white wine in Italy.

Collio and Friuli Colli Orientali

Located in the northeastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, these neighboring denominations produce outstanding Pinot Grigio. Collio, which borders Slovenia, is made up entirely of hillside vineyards. The best sites in Friuli Colli Orientali are also found on the hills.

These steep vineyards have sharp day-night temperature changes that generate complexity and aromas. The zones also benefit from microclimates generated by their vicinity to the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The mountains protect the vineyards from harsh winter storms, while the Adriatic’s warm breezes encourage ripening.

Once known locally as Rülander, Pinot Grigio is the most planted grape in Collio. It’s also a major variety in Colli Orientali, and has been widely planted in much of the region since the mid-1800s.

The best wines from these denominations are medium to full bodied, and are generally richer and possess more depth than other Pinot Grigios. They’re also fresh and loaded with aromas and flavors that include pear, apple, peach and apricot, with sensations that tip toward tropical in particularly warm vintages.

Perhaps the most important factor behind these superb Pinot Grigios is the soil. Made up of layers of marl and sandstone, this flysch, known locally as ponca and present throughout the hills of Collio and Colli Orientali, gives the wines their hallmark mineral energy and salinity.

According to Robert Princic, owner and winemaker of Gradis’ciutta and president of the Collio consorzio, the ponca is crucial to giving Pinot Grigio its structure and concentration.

“Not only does this unique soil lend mineral flavors, but it naturally limits grape yields, and lower yields produce wines with more body and intensity,” says Princic.

He says that local producers have always made Pinot Grigio as a quality wine as opposed to subscribing to the quantity-­driven mentality found in other areas.

A number of Collio Pinot Grigios, and some from Colli Orientali, also boast a unique coppery reflection, which is the result of brief contact between the juice and the dark grape skins.

To enhance complexity and flavor, most producers leave the wine on its lees for several months.

Gradis’ciutta 2015 Pinot Grigio (Collio) $22, 91 points. Round and juicy, this opens with aromas of stone fruit, dried herb and a whiff of pear. The ripe, enveloping palate doles out white peach, mature apple, juicy nectarine and a hint of bitter almond. A mineral note closes the lingering finish. Santini Wines.

Jermann 2015 Pinot Grigio (Venezia Giulia) $33, 90 points. Aromas of white peach, flint and a hint of banana carry over to the round, ripe palate along with green apple and a note of juicy tangerine. Fresh acidity brightens the creamy flavors and leads to a clean finish. Empson USA Ltd.

Venica & Venica 2015 Jesera Pinot Grigio (Collio) $25, 90 points. Gold with copper highlights, this elegantly structured wine offers heady scents of white spring flower and orchard fruit. On the juicy, savory palate, nutmeg and mineral notes back up ripe apple, mature pear and apricot that lead to a fresh finish. Grand Cru Selections.

Sturm 2014 Pinot Grigio (Collio) $24, 88 points. This bright, fragrant wine offers aromas of an orchard in bloom, spring flower, peach and a hint of banana. The crisp palate shows crunchy apple, pear and mineral alongside bracing acidity. A light almond note signals the crisp close. Skurnik Wines.

Terlato 2014 Pinot Grigio (Friuli Colli Orientali) $25, 88 points. Aromas of beeswax, elderflower and white orchard fruit emerge in the glass. On the lively palate, zesty acidity energizes creamy white peach, green pear and citrus, while a mineral note backs up the tangy finish. Terlato Wines International.

Alto Adige

Bordering Austria and Switzerland in the Italian Alps known as the Dolomites, the province of Alto Adige—also called Südtirol (South Tyrol in English)—is Italy’s northernmost wine-producing area. Vibrant and elegantly structured, Pinot Grigios from here rank among the best in Italy.

The grape thrives in the area’s high-altitude vineyards, where warm days and cool nights lead to a long growing season, generating intense aromas that tend to be more floral than fruity. On the palate, these mountain Pinot Grigios deliver white peach, pear, apple and flinty mineral offset by lively acidity.

Overcropping on the hillsides is practically impossible. It’s a major reason why Pinot Grigios from Alto Adige boast more concentration than those from the plains and valley floors, where yields are far higher.

“Not only are yields strictly limited in the Alto Adige DOC regulations, but the very steep slopes, high-density plantings and manual work in the vineyards guarantee the production of high-end Pinot Grigios,” says Karoline Walch, of the Elena Walch winery.

According to Alessandro Righi, managing director of St. Pauls Cooperative Winery in Eppan, soil and altitude are the driving forces behind its Pinot Grigio.

“The vast majority of white wines in Italy are made in low-lying vineyards and are planted in clay and sand,” says Righi. “Our vineyards lie between 300 and 500 meters (984–1,640 feet) above sea level, so grapes benefit from cool evening breezes, while hot summer temperatures encourage ripening.

“Our calcareous soil lends structure and minerality, but it also helps keep fresh acidity in the grapes, which is becoming increasingly important as temperatures heat up during the growing season.”

Alto Adige boasts numerous microclimates. One of the best is the vineyard site of Castel Ringberg, which overlooks Lake Caldaro, where soils are a mix of gravel, moraine deposits and limestone.

“We generally have more mild temperatures, thanks to the lake effect,” says Walch, whose Castel Ringberg is one of the few single-vineyard bottlings of Pinot Grigio in Italy.

To add complexity, some producers ferment and age partly or entirely in wood, like St. Pauls did for its recently launched Passion Pinot Grigio. Elena Walch ferments 15 percent of the firm’s Castel Ringberg in barriques.

Nals Margreid 2015 Punggl Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige) $30, 91 points. Delicate aromas that recall spring wildflower, orchard fruit, herb and crushed rock lead the nose on this structured white. Aged partly in large casks, the round, full-bodied palate offers ripe pear, nectarine and a flinty mineral note, while fresh acidity provides balance. Massanois Imports.

Elena Walch 2015 Vigna Castel Ringberg Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige) $25, 91 points. White spring blossom, orchard fruit and a whiff of Alpine herb come together on this delicious, structured white. The juicy, full-bodied palate offers white peach, mature pear and tangerine alongside bright acidity that lifts the creamy flavors. A precise mineral note closes the lingering finish and lends finesse. USA Wine West.

St. Pauls 2015 Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige) $22, 90 points. Elegantly structured and savory, this offers aromas of white field flower, orchard fruit and chopped herb. Boasting depth and finesse, the bright, juicy palate delivers mature pear, tangerine zest and flinty mineral alongside fresh acidity that lifts the creamy flavors. ­Ethica Wines.

Abbazia di Novacella 2015 Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige Valle Isarco) $19, 90 points. Structured and elegant, this lovely Pinot Grigio opens with delicate scents of white Alpine flower, citrus and a whiff of herb. The bright palate offers creamy white peach, crisp green apple and juicy nectarine, while a mineral note backs up the finish. Bright acidity provides lift and balance. Abbazia Novacella USA.

Cantina Produttori San Michele Appiano 2014 Anger Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige) $22, 89 points. Aromas of Alpine wildflower and peach blossom unfold on this refined mountain white. The balanced palate offers Anjou pear, yellow apple, mineral, tangerine and white almond coupled with crisp acidity. Martin Scott Wines.

Alois Lageder 2014 Porer Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige) $25, 89 points. Partly fermented in oak casks, this linear white offers aromas of white flower, pear, crushed rock and a delicate whiff of oak-driven spice. The elegant palate offers creamy yellow apple, vanilla and mineral alongside fresh acidity. Dalla Terra Winery Direct.

Colterenzio 2014 Puiten Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige) $23, 88 points. Aromas of orchard fruit, nut and a light whiff of toast lift from the glass. The medium-bodied, straightforward palate offers pear, apple and a note of lemon drop. Vibrant acidity gives it a clean finish. Grappoli Imports.

6 Best Buy Pinot Grigios

Many producers make great value Pinot Grigio. Crisp and clean, they offer bright orchard fruit-flavors and tangy acidity, making them ideal as an aperitivo or to pair with everyday fare. These are among the top-rated 2015s for $13 or less.


The Alois Lageder winery in Alto Adige comprises fifty hectares of the family's own vineyards, which are managed on the basis of bio-dynamic principles. Our holistic approach is reflected in our wine-growing activities, our long-standing relationships with numerous grape growers and our ambition to create awareness for an agriculture that is in tune with nature. Bio-dynamics (from the Greek bios meaning life and dinamikòs meaning movement) is a method employed for the renewal of agriculture that is based on the principles of anthroposophy, a view developed by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century. The anthroposophical view is that a farm is an enclosed microcosm containing a variety of plants and animals. A cultural landscape, too, is a closed system involving the soil, plants and nature. Our objective as wine growers is to maintain and develop this complex ecosystem.

Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco

This Alto Adige wine has a brilliant straw yellow colour with a green tint. Very fine, fruity (apples, peaches), forward varietal aromas. Pronounced, elegant, grape flavour, light to medium- bodied with a fresh mouth-watering finish.


Alois Lageder, Benefizium Porer, Trentino-Alto Adige, 2014

91

Larcherhof, Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, 2014

Wilhelm Walch, Marat Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, 2014

Ca'Mandato, Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, 2016

90

Peter Zemmer, Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, 2014

Franz Haas, Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, 2014

Viticoltori Alto Adige, San Pietro Pinot Grigio Kristall

St. Michael-Eppan, Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, 2017

88

Morrisons, The Best Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, 2019

90

2007 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Alto Adige - Südtirol

7/6/2010 - Anonymous wrote:

Purchased at Bobby Flay's Steakhouse at the Borgata for about $38. No formal notes. I remember this wine being solid, but not quite as good as the Pinot Bianco from the same vintage.

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5/8/2010 - Roughl wrote:

Think this was the wine we had, could also have been the 08? This was ok wine with white asparagus. It has some fine acidity, and nice round ripe fruit.

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1/1/2010 - Battleship wrote: 89 Points

I must be fair and state I'm not a big fan of Italian Pinot grigio's, but this one is better than most. I thought it was very non-dimensional, but realizzed I was drinking it to cold. When I let it warm up more, it really opened up to reveal stone, lemon and a richness that is hard to describe. Very good match with some chicken and fish dishes

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8/17/2009 - Zweder wrote: 82 Points

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7/5/2009 - beezer6 wrote: 86 Points

Taste from glass pour at Cafe Bionda.
Solid pale straw color. Crisp and refreshing showcasing grapefruit and green apple.
Super tart. High acidity finish. Not bad, but not exciting. Maybe too much acidity actually.


Barry's Wine Notes & Memories

A Saturday evening at Restaurant Ambiente..the food being particularly good tonight. I took along a bottle of Schneider's Pinoir Noir 2005 for the main course. but the white was from the list of mainly Italian Wines. Alois Lageder has been producing fine wines for ages..always reliable whenever I have chosen them. His Chardonnay 'Löwengang' is worth searching out. The wine is 100% Pinot Grigio..a grape that can be safe..but boring..and available by the glass in many restaurants. but proving here..that it is capable of being more than a house wine type. The vintage was excellent..and these grapes were grown in Magré. Cool nights and 300 days of sunshine aren't a bad background to give any wine a chance.
Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti 2007
Alto Adige, Italy
Straw coloured. a fresh bouquet..citrus fruit..with flowery aromas. peaches & melons..the palate shows a fuller style than expected. nicely balanced. elegant..and a lingering smokiness at the finish. A perfect accompaniment with a light dish of Tortelloni pasta.
Points 16.25
The Schneider continues to impress..and was the liquid pleasure required by a Charolais Steak.

Alois Lageder, Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 2019

91 points James Suckling
"A crystal-clear pinot grigio with sliced mangoes and some banana and cream character. Round texture, yet fresh and crisp. Medium body. Delicious finish. Solid PG. Drink now."

90 points Wine Enthusiast
"Crisp, clean and linear, this snappy, savory white features white-spring-flower, ripe pear and lemon-zest sensations. Bright acidity and tangy saline notes give it a racy edge and a pristine finish." *Best Buy*

Vinous Reverie Notes
The fruit in this bottling of 100% Pinot Grigio is from a selected vineyard in Magrè, Salorno and the northern part of Trentino, situated at an altitude of 220 - 350 meters. The region has a warm mesoclimate with big variations between day and night temperatures and soils made up of gravel/sand with limestone content. Small amount of fruit is whole cluster fermented. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, followed by maturation on the fine lees for four months. Tasting Notes: Aromatically the wine has notes of wildflowers, melons, orchard fruits and a hint of warm spices. On the palate the wine surprisingly medium bodied with a slightly waxy mouth feel, with ripe fruit flavors and a lingering flavor of white pepper.


2018 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Terra Alpina Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT

10/11/2020 - colatownwine Likes this wine: 88 Points

We’ve gone through a few bottles of this now this summer, and none have lasted long. Not super complex, but a well-balanced quencher with honeydew melon, spearmint, and pear flavors.

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2/21/2020 - oakville72 Likes this wine: 88 Points

Very pale. Restrained, fleshy nose. Fairly neutral but authentic pinot bianco flavors, which are, by the nature of the grape, fairly elusive and difficult to describe but somewhat resemble unripe melon or melon rind with fine acidity. (Note: Some of my favorite Pinot Blancs were those made by Dick Graff at Chalone Vineyards in the 1970s, which were quite substantial and different from the Lageder rendition.) A good value.

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1/22/2020 - The Drunken Cyclist Likes this wine: 88 Points

Although I have never been to the region officially (I was in Trento a few years ago, which is close), I am a big fan of wines from the region. This falls right into that assertion as it is both bright and fruity with tons of pear and a hint of pear. Great acidity on the palate but also some roundness with all that fruit. Not overly complex, but the price is certainly right. thedrunkencyclist.com

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2/22/2019 - nzinkgraf wrote:

7 Days in Italy II 2/17/2019-2/23/2019: Starting in 2018 this is Terra Alpina by Alois Lageder. Should be Certified Organic for 2021/2022 vintages. Lots of chalky pear to the nose. Acid pops up front on the palate. Pear, pear, pear, pear, pear, pear, pear.