Top Red Holiday Bottles from Alto Adige


It took me thirteen hours to get to Italy, and twenty-three hours to return to New York City. Sometimes the things I do to explore new wines make no sense from 30,000 feet. But once on the ground, the wines and the people almost always enrapture me and immediately make the journey worth my time.

Asked to judge two competitions – one on indigenous varieties of Alto Adige and one on Lagrein – about six months ago, I was seduced by the chance to learn more about this region. Alto Adige makes a large percentage of the highest quality wines in Italy though it makes a relatively small percentage of Italy’s overall production. 
Does this seem surprising? Just flip open a map and look closely at Bolzano’s geo-positioning. It’s smacked up against Austria , and this region is part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, which disintegrated only 100 years ago this year.
Aromatic varieties (mostly white) from this region can make one swoon, but so do the top reds. Here are some of my favorite off-the-beaten path Northern Italian red grape varieties to impress your guests, and yourself, this holiday season. 

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  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,085

    Love the article. Unfortunately they are hard to find in my area(Rhode Island and Connecticut). I have to search online to purchase these fantastic wines. These wines really make Italy stand out.

    Nov 19, 2014 at 1:44 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,165

    Very interesting and informative article, Christy. Thank you.

    I live on the left coast, and know that these wines are difficult to find here, but I thought that availability would be better in the East. Zinfandel1, above, disproves that theory.

    On the other hand, today is National Zinfandel Day. So, I know what I'm drinking, tonight. What are you drinking in the East, tonight, Z?

    Nov 19, 2014 at 2:42 PM

  • Snooth User: bobby vee
    1522304 27

    I love Lagrein and have mixed results with Ruche. Both are not so easy to find where I live. For Turkey wine, I have often served Dolcetto which pairs very well with a heaping plate of turkey, stuffing, gravy and variety of veggies from butternut squash to baked onions to brussel sprouts or cauliflower in cream sauces

    Nov 19, 2014 at 3:08 PM

  • Northeast Italy, especially Alto Adige, has become one of our favorite regions for hidden gems. We tasted quite a few bottles of Lagrein over the summer, and you've inspired us to try a bottle at Thanksgiving. J. Hofstatter Lagrein is one of our favorites, and we have a few with a bit of age - they seem to cellar well. Thanks!

    Nov 19, 2014 at 4:18 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,004

    Terlan is a pretty big maker of wines from the Alto Adige, and their wines are available on the west coast through K&L. In the Bay Area, Paul Marcus in Oakland often has Lagrein and WineMine, also in Oakland, has carried it when good examples were available. Premier Cru in Berkeley has had some pretty fancy versions of it, too, but doesn't seem to have any right now.

    Nov 19, 2014 at 4:43 PM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,085

    EMark, I believe it is obvious that I will be having one or two 2007 Ridge Zins and will probably close out the evening with a 2009 Rombauer Zin.

    Nov 19, 2014 at 5:01 PM

  • I love hearing about new varietals and there are several new here for me. I was surprised Teroldogo wasn't in the mix. But I will be looking for these.

    Nov 19, 2014 at 9:35 PM

  • Snooth User: Mark Wine
    1629582 14

    Very fascinating and helpful article, Love the post.

    Nov 27, 2014 at 12:33 AM

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