Teroldego is almost exclusively produced in Trentino’s Campo Rotaliano, a fertile floodplain that stretches north of the city of Trento. There are a few examples coming from the Veneto, as well. Experiments with the grape have proved successful in both South America and California, but the very specific corner of Trentino that gave birth to Teroldego continues to produce the highest expression of the grape.
The soils here are thin and cover deep layers of alluvial rubble, which lends Teroldego a stony underpinning to its fruity side. Much like Lagrein to the north in the Alto Adige, Teroldego has undergone a revolution as of late. Pergolas have been replaced with Guyot and the wines are being crafted in a more concentrated style.
Teroldego generally produces medium-bodied wines with soft tannins and bright acidity. The wines are quite fruity with flavors of dark berry fruits such as mulberry, black raspberry and boysenberry, all accented with notes of drying grass, aromatic wood, river stones and bitter herbs.
The efforts to extract more from Teroldego and the over reliance on barriques by some winemakers have produced wines that are often big and rich, but that have lost the nuance and transparency that make for a truly compelling Teroldego wine. I recently tasted over two dozen current release wines while in Italy and these are my top rated wines.
As is often the case, not all of these wines are in wide distribution. I’ve included them here to offer a broad-stroke picture of the style of wine that Teroldego is capable of.
Trento image via Shutterstock
2009 Dorigati Teroldego Rotaliano Superior Riserva Diedri 12.5%
What a gorgeous, fruit-driven nose. Full of spicy blueberry, black cherry and pomegranate fruit over savory base notes, topped with gamy grilled meat aromas and a whisper of vanilla. Very smooth in the mouth yet remarkably focused and intense at the same time, with gorgeously pure blackberry fruit that is elegant and fresh. This is framed with suggestions of wood spice and leads to a long finish, filled with pomegranate, rhubarb and raspberry fruit. Light mineral and iron notes add fine detail. This sets the standard for what Teroldego is capable of. 93pts
2008 Zeni Teroldego Rotaliano Pini 13.5%
Balsamic and slightly herbal on the nose with mature notes of butcher’s wax, lardo and sun-dried tomato adding detail to the black, slightly jammy frutti del bosco note. A hint of caramel seems more indicative of oxidation than wood. This is remarkably light and elegant on the palate with gently nutty oak and oxidation notes superbly integrated into the intense blackberry fruit. There are fine river stone notes here as well as an almost medicinal herbal note on the transition to the moderately long, slightly dry finish. Shows off a bit of a gamy edge. This is refined and elegant while retaining its rustic roots. 91pts
2011 Cantina Aldeno Teroldego Rotaliano Athesim Flumen 12.5%
Tight. Obviously, a serious effort has been made here to allow for a very expressive set of aromatics. Includes an early gamy edge that’s a bit bloody, followed by nettles, spice and soil accents over terrific black fruit aromas. On the palate, this remains a bit tight, mineral and earth-driven. Good acidity supports youthful, juicy blackberry and mulberry fruit. There are some soft, spicy notes that emerge on the back end with dusty tannins that accent the strawberry-fruited finish, which is highlighted with a nice wild herb note. Rich and elegant, this probably can only get better. Quite an effort. 91pts
2010 Cavit Bottega Vinai Teroldego Rotaliano 13%
Meaty on the nose with aromas of dried fruit, complex wood spice, vanilla, minerals and blackberries. A balanced and attractive bouquet. There is a leading edge of sweetness here on the palate, followed by slightly stony black raspberry fruit that is nicely dense yet remaining focused and bright. Everything is in place here. Lovely wild berry fruit, wild herbs, excellent balsamic undertones, slightly chewy tannins and a long spicy finish. You can’t deny the attractiveness of this modern interpretation of Teroldego. 91pts
2011 Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Castel Firmian 13%
There’s a hint of spice here on the nose under bright raspberry fruit. Shows a hint of toasty sweetness and caramel fragrance. This smells very modern but very good, as well. Very smooth and polished on entry and undeniably modern, fairly dripping with blueberry and black raspberry fruit in the mouth. Built on a base of dry tannin, but this shows excellent intensity and purity of fruit. A late arriving splash of mineral and caraway complexity add some nice detail to the expanse of fruit. 90pts
2010 Dorigati Teroldego Rotaliano 13.5%
This is jammy on the nose with exotic aromas of jasmine, pomegranate and Middle Eastern spices. Bright and tense in the mouth with taut, mineral-inflected blackberry fruit on the palate, all supported by very subtle wood spices notes. The tannins are firm and fresh, adding a little texture without obscuring the terrific purity and intensity of the blackberry fruit that extends over the long, juicy finish. This might be a touch simple but really captures the purity of fruit remarkably well. 90pts
2009 Cantina Rotaliana di Mezzolombardo Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva 13.3%
Lightly smoky on the nose with a lovely limestone base to the perfume of crushed berry fruit, floral top notes and integrated wood spices. Transparent on the palate with succulent lingonberry and raspberry fruit, topped with a hint of dried herb, bricky soil tones and fruit that is vibrantly pure without being overtly fruity. The tannins here lend a rather open, honest feel to the wine as well, adding drive and energy to the palate and moderately long finish. This really rings true to my palate. 90pts
2010 Zeni Teroldego Rotaliano Lealbere 13%
Deeply fruited and perfumed on the nose with full on blackberry fruit. Framed with dark, oily herbs, liquory plum top notes and very toasty, roasted fruit notes. Big and opulent on entry, though with terrific acidity and ripe, soft fruit tannins in fine balance. This is a little bit of a fruit bomb filled with plum, blackberry and pomegranate flavors. Some rustic tannins cut the dry, coarse finish short. There is incredible sweetness to this fruit though, so I have no doubt a bit of age will soften those tannins and allow this to be fully appreciated. 90pts
2010 De Vescovi Ulzbach Teroldego Rotaliano Classico 13%
This offers up a bit of nuttiness on the nose over a base of clay soil tones, which frame the sour berry, mulberry fruit quite well. There’s a top note of wild herbs along with an umami-rich note of speck and fish sauce. Fleshy and a bit sweet in the mouth, this packs in lots of rich blackberry and black raspberry flavors over firm, slightly dry tannins. Showing a bit more extraction than one might typically encounter, this is an unusually structured Teroldego with attractive sour cherry fruit on the modest finish. 89pts
2010 Endrizzi Teroldego Rotaliano 12.8%
This is a touch soft on the nose with very pure fruit but also a touch of VA. There are lovely, complex notes of rye, herbs, wild cherry and red currant fruits, all framed with a hint of toast and lifted by the VA. Smooth and lightly gritty on the palate, this relies on the tannins to add some freshness to the palate. Shows off pure cherry fruit, flecked with light mineral notes, hints of herbs and zesty acidity for support. The finish is fairly long with an attractive interplay of spice, wild berry fruit and mineral notes. The VA will bother some, but this is an attractively varietal example of Teroldego. 89pts
2010 Campo Maseri di Villa Varda Teroldego Rotaliano 13%
This offers up a complex bouquet filled with subtle herbal notes and hints of tea and moss. Caraway and spice over gentle fresh fruit aromas make me think of used or larger format oak barrels. Lighter-bodied than many on the palate, this is open and giving with lean and focused precision to the mid-palate. Shows some balsamic complexity and light pink peppercorn spiciness to the dark berry fruit. Perhaps not the most varietal wine, this is still very attractive for its intriguing complexity and vibrancy. 89pts
2011 Fedrizzi Teroldego Rotaliano 13%
A touch closed on the nose with some wood covering flinty and floral aromas, which blossom in the glass and are joined by very fresh and fruity red berry notes. Soft and broad on entry, this offers up very bright and juicy blackberry and plum fruit with light tannins and perhaps a touch of wood-induced sweetness on the back end. Finishes with a hint of red plum. The finish shows off lovely fruit tannins and continues the honest and pure varietal feel of this wine. 88pts
2010 Luigi Zanini Teroldego Rotaliano Le Cervare 12.5%
Tight and a bit oaky on the nose with toasty spice and vanilla notes as well as a touch of brett. Wood sweetens the palate here, with wood tannins popping on the finish. The mid-palate texture is smooth and supple, showing excellent wild cherry and rhubarb flavors in a refined, silky style. The wood cuts the finish short and is really just a bit too much at this point, but this modern example of Teroldego will have many admirers. 88pts
2009 Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva 13%
This has a textbook nose. Wild berries, herbs and light spice notes with hints of dried fennel and a touch of sun-dried tomato. It checks off all the boxes. Big and polished in the mouth, this has a lot of intensity but feels a touch extracted with big, dry tannins that clamp down on the back end. Until then, this sets out in a fairly elegant and finely balanced style with subtle clay soil notes, chalky tannins and a bit of heat. This is a classic Italian wine of texture. It is full, rich and a bit matte. The nose remains awfully pretty, so time might help reveal more on the palate. 88pts