Trentino/Alto-Adige
 
Trentino/Alto-Adige. This is where I feel at home, having spent many years in the region. I love these wines, there is such a variety to be had, and yet they tend to see spotty representation here in the states. To a certain degree that is due to their great success in their local markets. The Brenner Pass feeds Austrian and German tourists right into the region and they tend to return home with their trucks full of great wines, but the paucity of great wine from the region also reflects our buying habits. We have focused so much on Italy for wine values, ie cheap wines, and famous Italian gems for so long that we have missed the boat with many of the less famous or more difficult to farm regions.  So our fascination with other regions of Italy tends to make these wines tougher to find, though it also keeps the prices within reason. It’s a great region to find surprises for even the most knowledgeable wine geeks. 
 
 
Here’s a wine with a very long name, and a confusing one at that. It’s simply Terlan’s Pinot Bianco Reserva with the name written in both Italian and German as is the custom in the Alto-Adige. Terlan is famous for their white wines and their Pinot Bianco in particular, and this is one of the finest renditions available. Offering a great blend of cool white fruits and minerality, it ages superbly developing richness and depth that is almost unheard of at this price. 
 
 
Another wines that is iconic of the Alto-Adige is the indigenous Lagrein. Prone to hard, green tannins, it’s only been over the last two decades or so that vineyard practices and and an understanding of terroir have come together to yield the exceptionally high quality versions that we have today. That makes this wine, whose vineyards date back centuries even more surprising. It’s a fabulous example of the variety. Rich with dark fruit and subtle chocolate and mineral accents that develops an alluring, velvety character with age. It’s tough to track down, though it is imported, which makes it a killer gift.
 
 
South of the Alto-Adige one finds Trentino where the great reds come from Teroldego. I have some emotional attachment to the grape, my palate  was, to a large degree, raised on it. An unusual wine for a list like this, Teroldego is not known for it’s great cellaring abilities, but rather for it’s early appeal, tart berry flavors, and supple, rich mouthfeel.  Some producers are able to take the wines to another level. Foradori has recently resumed producing single vineyard examples of Teroldego, biodynamically farmed, raised for a period in amphorae; they are wines that are bursting with life and vivacious flavors. Teroldego almost tamed but still with it’s wild, mountain roots intact. 
 
 
Finally, further south in Trentino, almost to the border with the Veneto one finds the isolated farm of San Leonardo. Making a Bordeaux blend in indigenous wine country is not an easy or simple task. Making wines that are world class does make it a bit easier, but the truth is that while Cabernet is not completely unknown in the region, this is an odd wine to find here. It makes it an outlier and a bit on the obscure side of things but if you take the time to taste the wines of San Leonardo you’ll be rewarded with a fabulous experience, reminiscent of Bordeaux of a certain age. Black currants and herbs share the glass with firm little tannins that effortlessly support 12-20 years of ageing. This is a bit of a throwback wine in that it’s not a blueberry shake of a Cabernet based wine, and it has the high acidity that Italian palate loves, but if that sounds like something you might be interested in you have to track down a mature bottle of San Leonardo to enjoy while you are waiting for the current releases to reach their apogee.