Radoar 2008 “Loach” (Alto Adige) – An zweigelt/pinot noir blend. It tastes of zweigelt, more or less, with a plump middle no doubt provided by its companion grape; slightly biting wild berries, dark and just a bit bitter, but with that fulsome midpalate that isn’t often there. The aromatics have been tamped down a bit, as well. While this is certainly better than pummeling zweigelt into submission with things like merlot, which perversion I’ve certainly seen, I’m not entirely convinced by this pairing; it’s good red wine, yes, but I can’t quite hear what it has to say about grape or place. (5/12)
Sölva 2010 Vernatsch (Alto Adige) – Anyone who’s taken one of the various flavors of formal wine education has spent some time studying color and the tales it tells…about variety, site, age, winemaking, alcohol level, and certain faults. In this age of orange wines (very few of which are actually “orange” as such) and cloudy, browned-out natural whites, the former lexicon is a bit tattered, but the generalizations still more or less hold. Personally, I no longer find the color of a wine of anything more than academic interest, which is why I almost never mention it; if I’m analyzing or guessing, it’s important, but I tend to think that people who find the color of their wine crucial (rather than just nice to look at) are kind of missing the point.
So I wonder what anyone – analyst or drinker – would make of the optics here. As pale as many a Jura red (paler, perhaps), tending towards early autumnals like a Piedmontese nebbiolo, but also including the more cosmetic blushes of a grignolino. I can’t quite decide if it’s beautiful or necrotic.
But how does it taste, Mr. I-Don’t-Care-About-Visuals? I return to the subject of grignolino, in its combination of sharp, somewhat gritty fruit with the velvety softening of minor (but not flaw-level) oxidation. It’s a little more purple-berried than that, and there’s a keening acidity that speaks of chilly nights and early winters. It’s a fascinating wine (to my memory, my first vernatsch), frankly, and I need to own more of it. (3/12)
Lageder 2004 Pinot Grigio Benefizium Porer (Alto Adige) – An aging experiment gone…well not awry, exactly. There have been developments. But the creamier texture, the roundness, and the extra weight are all in the service of a much less interesting wine than this was in its youth. That precision has dulled is no surprise, but despite what appears at first glance to be added concentration is in fact no more than dilution-masking mass. In a way, it takes more like pinot gris than it did before. But it tastes less of the Alto Adige. I’m perfectly willing to believe there’s ageable pinot grigio from this region (pinot gris can age just fine from Alsace, dry or sweet, as long as it retains sufficient acidity), but as I’d have bet on this being one of them, maybe I’m looking for the wrong things. (1/12)
Nalles Magré 2007 Schiava (Alto Adige) – Prettily fruited, marrying blackberry and quince with salmiakki. Simple but very appealing, with a winning lightness. (1/12)
Lageder 2004 Pinot Bianco Haberlehof (Alto Adige) – This was so firm and mineral-driven in its youth that I decided to age it a while to see what happened. Answer: not much. It got creamier, of course, but otherwise, it’s the same wine it was. Just older. Would more age help? Maybe, but I’m not confident. (8/11)
Sölva & Söhne “Belldès” 2008 Vernatsch (Alto Adige) – Seductive violet fruit, fine-grained minerality with more than a touch of graphite, and juiciness. Verve-acious, to coin a term. I love this. (8/11)
Terlan 2010 Lagrein Rosé (Alto Adige) – Straightforward chilled-berry pinkishness with a slender mineral core. A bit grapey as it lingers. A simple idea, simply executed. (7/11)
Mumelter 2009 Griesbauerhof St. Magdalener Classico (Alto Adige) – I should start by clarifying that the producer insists on “Südtirol” as the regional identity, rather than the Italian form. While the fruit hints at delicacy by its dark skin-toned aromatics and floral suggestions, the wine’s rather blocky. Not in a clumsy, heavy way, but as if it were hewn from a quarry. More or less all the pleasure here is intellectual. (7/11)
Thurnhof 2009 Goldmuskateller (Alto Adige) – Mineral-infused muscat, more pristine and solemn than goofily floral. There’s a drenched quality to the interior, but it’s draped with a certain kind of polished armor structure. I like it. (6/11)
Abbazia di Novacella 2009 Valle Isarco Kerner (Alto Adige) – Starts bracing, then falters somewhat into an unfocused sort of refrigerated fruitiness. Something like lemon, apple, tomato…in that wide realm, a palate wandering around looking for clarity. There’s good structure and certainly interest, but the wine is as meandering with food as without. I like it, but that’s as far as I’ll go. (9/10)