So what makes Pinot Nero Italian? The terroir of course. Almost all of the wines I tried during this tasting hailed from the Alto Adige, that northern-most province of Italy's center that is blessed with gorgeous mountain valleys fit for vines from floor to hilltop. Pinot expresses something unique in this region because of those hillside vineyards and the climate, which often calls for a sweater at 600 meters even in the heart of summer.
Though it can be cool at night, daytime temperatures in an Alto Adige summer are plenty warm. This shift in temperatures, known as a diurnal shift, allows for the full ripening of the fruit without the development of any jammy flavors. In fact, one of the issues many people have with Alto Adige Pinot Neros is that lack of fruit, which even I can see as a fault sometimes. When Pinot Nero lacks the requisite fruit flavors, the wines tend towards pronounced forest floor and earthy flavors, but when producers capture the fruit, there is a clarity and brilliance to it that very few other Pinot Noirs can compete with.
Find out who captured that fruit!