Joining Snooth was one of those highpoints. Be introduced to all of you and being given the opportunity to share my thoughts, finds, and discoveries has set the stage for a very exciting 2009. To get the ball rolling I thought I would take this email to relate a few lessons learned in 2008 and how to take advantage of them in 2009!
I was fortunate to spend several weeks in Italy during the spring and summer of 2008 and during my time there I was able to taste through hundreds of wines. Well finding values is always difficult I was blown away by some of the wines I was fortunate enough to taste. One region you should be taking a closer look at is the Northern half of Trentino/Alto-Adige.
Alto-AdigeThis mountainous region butts up against the Alps and forms Italy's border with Austria. German is still the language of the region and wine labels may be confusing since they are written in both Italian and German but it's worth wading through the confusion since there are so many compelling wines coming from this picturesque corner of Italy.
Lagrein is the region's flagship red grape and produces richly fruited wines with a mineral edge that can age well but are usually ready to go as soon as they are released.
2004 Girlan Lagrein Laurin
A classic introduction to the grape, bursting with succulent fruit yet with enough structure to stand up to assertive foods.
2004 Lagrein Riserva Mayr - Nusserhof
Elegant and unadorned beauty with complexity today and the stuffing to age for a decade or more.
2005 Lagrein Porphyr Terlan
This is as good as Lagrein can get. A bit oaky today but packed with ripe fruit that is uncommonly deep and complex. It can only get better with some time in the cellar!
Pinot Noir is the region's other strong suit with red wines. Perhaps most similar to the pinots from New Zealand these wines tend to have a captivating balance between ripe fruit and exotic tea, earth, and spice notes. A blend that can please every palate! One problem with these wines is that little makes it to our shore but you can still get a great idea of the style and quality by sampling through the line-up from the Hofstatter winery!
J. Hofstatter Pinot Nero Alto Adige Sudtirol Meczan
Meczan is their entry level bottling, full of fruit in an elegant, almost delicate style ready for immediate consumption.
J. Hofstatter Pinot Nero Riserva Mazon
Riserva Mazon has a richness that is unmistakably due to the old vines used for this bottling. Deep, velvety and seductive, this is wonderfully styled wine.
J. Hofstatter Pinot Noir Barthenau Vigna S.Urbano
Barthenau Vigna S. Urbano is the top of the line, produced in a rich, layered style that needs a few year to fully express its incredible complexity and depth.
And while we may be mixing grapes a bit here one last wine the region is renowned for is dessert wines. With the long Germanic influence it's not surprising that superb dessert wines can be found here. The region is renowned for the sweet, freshly fruited and floral toned wines that are made with the Rosenmuskateller, red Muscat, grape. A lower alcohol dessert wine that is simply a delightfully pure way to cap off a great meal!
Try the Abbazia Di Novacella Sudtiroler Rosenmuskateller Marklhof for a real treat.
Well I hope this little exploration of the unknown will stimulate the explorer in all of you to try something new this month. We've begun a great new year, let's make the most of it!