Trentino-Alto Adige Wine

 aurelio candido Campagne di Egna
Photo aurelio candido
Campagne di Egna

Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy’s northernmost region, is walled in by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomites, so that only about 15 percent of the region’s land is cultivable and much that is produces fruit and wine grapes. The difficulty of growing vines on steep, often terraced hillsides compels growers to emphasize quality. About three-quarters of production is DOC and a major share of the wine is exported.

Trentino-Alto Adige, with borders on Austria and Switzerland, is split into two distinct provinces. Trentino, around the city of Trento (or Trent) to the south, is historically Italian in language and culture. Alto Adige, around the city of Bolzano (or Bozen) to the north, is known as Südtirol to the prominent German-speaking population. The South Tyrol, historically part of Austria, is officially bilingual.

In Trentino-Alto Adige, production of the numerous varietal wines is centered in two large DOC zones: Trentino in the south and Alto Adige or Südtirol in the north.

The Alto Adige DOC takes in wines from distinct zones noted for class: Colli di Bolzano/Bozner Leiten, Meranese di Collina/Meraner, Santa Maddalena/St. Magdalener, Terlano/Terlan, Valle d’Isarco/Eisacktal, and Val Venosta/Vinschgau. Although experts agree that the Alpine climate favors grapes for perfumed white wines, the historical emphasis has been on reds, which still account for more than half of the region’s production.

The dominant vine variety of Alto Adige is Schiava or Vernatsch, a source of light, bright reds that flow north prodigiously to German-speaking countries. The most highly regarded of these is St. Magdalener or Santa Maddalena, grown on the picturesque slopes overlooking Bolzano. The best known wine is Caldaro or Kalterersee, produced from vines around the pretty lake of that name.

The ranks of roseate ruby wines from Schiava extend through the South Tyrol along the Adige river into Trentino and Veneto under the Valdadige or Etschtaler appellation. That applies to red and white wines of popular commercial standards. Other reds show greater class. Alto Adige’s native Lagrein and Trentino’s Teroldego stand with northern Italy’s most distinguished vines, making wines of singular personality.

Lagrein thrives on the gravelly plains along the Adige at Gries, a quarter of Bolzano where the wine achieves full, round, plush qualities with a bit of age. Santa Maddalena has a longstanding reputation as a refined light red. Teroldego, grown on the Rotaliano plain north of Trento, is an unusually attractive red when young, but with a capacity to age splendidly from good vintages. Trentino’s Marzemino makes a fresh, lively red for casual sipping.

In both provinces, increasing space has been devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which can reach impressive heights whether alone or in blends. The region also produces some of Italy’s finest rosés, the most impressive being Lagrein Kretzer. The sweet Moscato Rosa, with its gracefully flowery aroma, is a rare and prized dessert wine.

The growing demand for white wines has influenced growers to plant more of the international premium varieties. The heights are favorable to aromatic whites: Sylvaner, Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Müller Thurgau and white Moscato. But the quality of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio and Sauvignon from certain cellars can also stand with Italy’s finest. Trentino’s native Nosiola makes a tasty dry white and is also the base of Vino Santo, an opulent dessert wine from the Valle dei Laghi north of Lake Garda.

Although the region’s white wines are sometimes considered light by international standards, the best of them have an unexpected propensity to age. Pinot Bianco, Riesling, Sylvaner and Müller Thurgau have been known to remain fresh and vital for a decade or more. But the emphasis remains on the popular Pinot Grigio and, increasingly, on Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer.

Trentino, which boasts Italy’s largest production of Chardonnay, is a leader with sparkling wines by the classical method, many of which qualify under the prestigious Trento DOC. Alto Adige has also stepped up sparkling wine production. Ultimately, producers in both provinces have been making whites of greater weight and complexity – in particular from Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Bianco and Gewürztraminer, whose name derives from the South Tyrolean village of Tramin.

Red wines have also taken on greater dimensions, notably in Lagrein and Teroldego and combinations of Cabernet and Merlot, but also with Pinot Nero. They are gradually enhancing the status of a region whose sterling record with DOC still has not fully expressed the extraordinary quality potential.

Despite the traditional flow north to German-speaking countries, the wines of Trentino-Alto Adige – whites in particular – have been making steady progress in Italy and, recently, on distant markets, such as the United States and United Kingdom.

The Trentino wines match very well the Trentino cuisine, with its local recipes.

DOC Wine
Alto Adige
Caldaro or Lago di Caldaro
Teroldego Rotaliano
Valdadige Terradeiforti

IGT Wine
Atesino delle Venezie
Delle Venezie
Vigneti delle Dolomiti

Trentino  small producers of high quality wine:

These are the small producers of high quality wine, that were exhibitors from Trentino present at the VIII SIMPOSIO TOP WINE 2950 that was held at the Rifugio Maria, on top of the Sass Pordoi on October 14, 2006. Some of them sell directly to the public their wine through their Internet site.

Alessandro Secchi Serravalle di Ala TN 0464 696647
Barone a Prato Segonzano TN 0461 686241
Barone de Cles Mezzolombardo TN 0461 601081
Borgo dei Passeri Ala TN 0464 671899
Castel Noarna Nogaredo TN 0464-413295
Dalzocchio Rovereto TN 0464 413664
de Tarczal Marano d’Isora TN 0464 409134
Donati Marco Mezzocorona TN 0461 604141
Francesco Poli S. Massenza TN 0461 864102
Frasnelli – Sartori S. Michele all’Adige TN 0461 650413
Grigoletti Nomi TN 0464 834215
La Cadalora S. Margherita di Ala TN 0464 696443
La Vigne Isera TN 0464 433182
Maso Bastoe Voleno TN 0464 412747
Maso Mortis Martignano di Trento TN 0461 821057
Maso Salendo Voleno TN 0464 410455
Pojer e Sandri Faedo TN 0461 650342
Previs Laseno TN 0461 564305
Redondel Mezzolombardo TN 0461 601618
Rosi Eugenio Voleno TN 0464 461375
Sandri Arcangelo Faedo TN 0461 650935
Simoncelli Armando Rovereto TN 0464 432373
Vallarom Avio TN 0464 684297
Vilar di Spagnolli Luigi Mattarello di Trento TN 0461 946012
Vindimian Rudi Lavis TN
Zeni Roberto Grumo S.Michele all’Adige TN 0461 650456

Free Winegrowers South Tyrol Association
Interest association of the self selling estates in South Tyrol with 78 members. Federation for the support of the viticulture, the quality wine production, the marketing and representation of the interests in the South Tyrolean wine economy. Care of the wine culture and promotion of the South Tyrolean wine image.

I Love Italian Wine and Food series – Trentino – Alto Adige Region, an article.