Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Vernatsch of South Tyrol / Alto Adige

Walter Speller introduces vernatsch from Alto Adige/South Tyrol, Italy

Unusual tasting today for an often neglected grape variety from the northernmost part of Italy. I used to buy schiava in the past for easy drinking, maybe with a pizza, or at a garden party to pair with finger food. Cheap and (usually) cheerful, not more. No longer. Things have changed for the better, as we learned from the introduction by Walter Speller of Hunt and Speller and Italy editor for Jancis Robinson. 

Vernatsch is the German name for what Italians call "schiava", but the difference is more than just a name. Schiava was for a long time a pale, cheap wine that did not age well. Bunches were big because of irrigation and no one was really fond of the result.  As people shifted from drinking more wine to drinking better wine, schiava fell out of favor. In 1973 there were 3500+ hectares of vineyards planted with schiava, while in 2020 only 667 remained. 

That began to change over the last decade or so. More and more producers started to pay attention to quality instead of quantity. We now have much less or no irrigation, smaller bunches, smaller berries and more complex, structured wines that are meant to age.

Following are my tasting notes from this event,

Hoamet 2019 Mitterberg
Fruity and structured, slight prevalence of hard sensations.
Score 87

Hoamet 2021
A much better vintage than the preceding wine. Balanced, smooth even.
Score 92

Vigna Bischofsleiten 2019
60yo pergola vines. 90% aged in steel, 10% in large oak to keep freshness high
Perfect balance, long.
Score 89

Vigna Bischofsleiten 2013
Fruit and structure. Amazingly, tannins still require a bit more time in the bottle.
Score 90

Vineyards on poor soil slopes, old vines. Little or no fertilizers used.

Donà rouge vernatsch 2019 Mitterberg
Intense fruit in the nose, structure and powerful tannins that need more time.
Score 88.

Donà rouge vernatsch 2021 Mitterberg
Structured, long and complex.
Score 92.

It is a 101-year-old cooperative with 200 members. In all 240 hectares at roughly 450 meters above sea level. Vines are 80-100 year old.

Gschleier Alte Reben vernatsch 2022
Fresh nose, more balanced on the palate, long.
Score 91.

Gschleier Alte Reben vernatsch 2019
Perfect balance, moderate complexity and length.
Score 91.

Ackerle 2021 Isarcus 2019 St Magdalener Klassisch Südtirol
No fertilizers produce smaller berries, and they prefer pergola training to protect bunches from excessive Summer heat and keep freshness high. Half the grapes were harvested late to allow higher sugar content. A smooth, long wine.
Score 90.

Ackerle 2021 St Magdalener Klassisch Südtirol
Intense aromas, red fruits, freshness but complexity and length.
Score 91.

St Anna vernatsch 2019 Weinberg Dolomiten
Still a bit rough on the tongue, tannins aggressive, perhaps because it was left up to 3 weeks on skins with 50% stems. Two years in big oak. Probably needs a bit of time in the bottle. It could be a demonstration that vernatsch can age, we'll see.
Score 85.

St Anna vernatsch 2012 Weinberg Dolomiten
A mature wine at its peak, or even past it. Full body and complexity with hard sensations prevailing.
Score 88.

Campill 2019 Vino
Biodynamic. Fermented with 40% stems, no temperature control and spontaneous fermentation.
Intense nose, good structure even if alcohol makes its presence felt, hard sensations prevail.
Score 85.

Campill 2014 Mitterberg
Fruit is there, but alcohol is too dominant, a bit rough.
Score 83.

Sea 2019 Kaltersee Klassisch
Their oldest vines are 100+ yo, which probably explains the elegance of this wine. Harvest is delayed as long as possible and fermentation is in large oak barrels with "lots of" stems.
Perfect balance, complex wine and ready now.
A fully developed expression of the best vernatsch.
Score 93.

Sea 2016 Kaltersee Klassisch
Similar to wine above.
Score 93.

1 comment:

  1. Grandios. Vernatsch: der am meisten unterschätzte Wein Mitteleuropas


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