Ignaz Niedrist Schiava Classico Südtirol Kalterersee Auslese DOC 2015

Estate: The Ignaz Niedrist winery is located in the heart of the wine growing area of Oltradige in the Rungg district of Cornaiano in Alto Adige [or South Tyrol] in northern Italy. Establshed by Josef Niedrist, the family has been making wine for over 170 years. After the area came under Italian rule following WWI, there were some difficult times for the family, as there were with so many small family wineries in Italy leading up to WWII. In 1989, Josef’s great grandchildren revitialised the winery and vineyards, increasing both the size and number of variatels planted. Today the next generation [Maria, Franz and Johannes Niedrist] are learning the family’s craft.

Philosophy: “We work in a spirit of gratitude to further develop what generations before us created, while preserving the scope for future generations to take their decisions, too. Careful, harmonized work on the vines and care of the soil, controlled yields and first-class sites are the main pillars in our drive for quality. Great importance must be attached to the best possible match between grape variety and terroir. We are at pains to combine our instinct for the world of nature, the wealth of knowledge built up by our forebears and the findings of modern viticulture.”

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from hilltop vineyards located at 450-500 meteres above sea level. The soil is shallow and gravelly, with a high stone content [porphyry, granite, gneiss], allowing the soil to be easily warmed. Fermented in “open-top oak vats for about two weeks; the young wine ages in oak vats on fine lees for 6 months”.

Tasting Notes: Bright red with pink edges in colour. Very aromatic, with candied cherry, raspberry, white pepper, floral and a savory wisp. Fresh, light strawberry, raspberry and cherry are given a quick shake of crushed pink peppercorn. Smooth tannins highlight berry fruit and spice on the dry finish. Vibrant and energetic, this is fantastic on its own or with a variety of fresh dishes. [It was fantastic with Ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms with red pepper passato and marinated crab crostini with red pepper aioli.]

Enjoy young and with a slight chill.

95% Schiava, 5% “complementary varieties (Negrara, Rossara, etc.)”
Südtirol Kalterersee Auslese DOC
Italy
Bottled by Ignaz Niedrist
13% Alcohol
$23 [average price]
Enjoy now

Elena Walch Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2015

elenaschiava

Estate: Founded in 1869 by Elena’s husband’s Werner Walch’s great-grandfather, the estate is located in Alto Adige, northern Italy. Known as the “Queen Of Gewürztraminer”, Elena decided to blaze her own path when she arrived at the estate in 1985, rather then follow in the footsteps of her husband’s family label. She replanted vines in relation to soil types and prioritized sustainable, organic farming. A “strong, driven woman”, today she is known for shaking things up, while her wines are some of the most sought after in the region.

Philosophy: “The estate is dedicated to its terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate and cultivation in the vineyard – and that this must be maintained according to principles of sustainability and passed on to the next generation.”

Winemaking: Sustainable and organic methods are practiced; no chemicals of any kind are used. 45% of the estates’ electricity needs are solar powered. Grapes were sourced from “rented vineyards in Tramin, Caldaro and Cortaccia”. Aged in Slovenian oak casks.

Tasting Notes: Transparent ruby red in colour with aromas of strawberry, herbs and wildflowers. Delicate wild berry and cherry flavours glide atop gossamer like tannins and mild acidity. White pepper and traces of bitter almond comprise the dry finish. Splendidly light and easy drinking, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: An interesting wine for Mediterranean dishes and Pasta dishes, as well as antipasti.

Enjoy with a slight chill, 16 -18 °C [61-64 °F]

100% Schiava
Alto Adige
Italy
Produced & Bottled by Elena Walch SRL
12.5% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2019

Peter Zemmer ‘Edelvernatsch Schiava Gentile’ Südtirol - Alto Adige DOC 2014

zemmerschiava

Winery: Established in 1928, third generation winemaker Peter Zemmer follows in the path of his grandparents. Located in Cortina, one of the smallest communities [only 600 inhabitants] in Alto Adige, northern Italy, it is the last village with a majority of German speakers. Committed to the environment, and setting new goals in vineyard sustainability, all of the electricity needs are generated by solar panels. The vineyards are farmed sustainably and without the use of chemicals. The family of winemakers has a goal to produce “natural wines that accurately reflect their character of origin and expressively unite the unique terrain”.

Philosophy: “Culture and nature, tradition and innovation, great respect and development, I love and live my environment.”

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards with loam soil located on the sunny slopes around Cortaccia. [The sommelier at Lupa told me it was aged for a few months in oak. I was intrigued as oak aging is not typically seen with Schiava. In spite of being a bit concerned that the oak would overpower the delicate nature of the grape, I was enthusiastic to give it a go. Rather then bulldozing the variatal’s personality, the deft hand used with the oak added a subtle nuance to each sip.]

Tasting Notes: Brilliant, transparent red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries with a hint of summerwoods. Fresh cherry and strawberry notes are backed by subtle traces of oak and silky smooth tannins. Vanilla and a wisp of bitter almond compliment the dry, clean fruit finish. Light, elegant and friendly, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions From the Winemaker: Appetizers, smoked and cured meats, grilled or broiled meats, mild cheese. Serve at 14 – 16°C [57-61 °F].

“Blend of various varieties of Schiava
Südtirol – Alto Adige DOC
Italy
Bottled by Peter Zemmer S.A.S.
12.5% Alcohol
$17 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2017

Baron Widmann Vernatsch Südtiroler DOC 2015

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Look at that gem-like colour!

Estate: Baron Widmann is a family winery comprised of multiple farms, or estate vineyards in the village of Kurtatsch in Alto Adige [Südtiroler], northern Italy. Founded in 1783 by Johann Mathias von Kager, the estate retains the original home built in 1708, under which is the cellar, still used today. The family has been making wine at the estate since 1824. The vineyards are located on steep hills south of the village.

Philosophy: “For generations, we have devoted ourselves above all to the cultivation of wine.”

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from the “Nockerisch” vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel with a second fermentation and aging in oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Transparent rose-red in colour with abundant aromas of strawberry, rose petal and a whisper of vanilla bean. Simple and pure with vivid strawberry, rose petal and cherry flavours dusted with a grind of black peppercorn. Angular acidity and dry tannins are the perfect foil to the floral and fruit notes. Finishing clean and fruity, this is a gorgeous, serene sip that makes a fantastic companion to a wide variety of dishes.

*A good sommelier makes all the difference, no matter your wine intensity or scope. I relayed to the sommelier the types of italian wines I’m passionate about, and what flavor profile I was looking for. This is the bottle he brought out, so fresh it had not even made it to the wine list yet!

100% Vernatsch [Schiava]
Südtiroler DOC
Italy
Bottled by Andreas Widmann
12.5% Alcohol
$16 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2018

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A better look at the label, it was impossible to capture the colour and label together.

Schiava & Ruché: These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

Coming up with your top 5 favourite grapes is similar to picking your top 5 Bruce Springsteen songs. It’s a daunting task. However, I feel fairly confident in saying that Schiava is defiantly in my top 5, and I can make a very solid case for Ruché as well. Like knowing you have Spirit in the Night in the top 5, and well equipped to explain why Does this Stop at 82nd Street? might be up there too.

Of course these two grapes are extraordinarily difficult to find outside of Italy, so imagine my absolute delight being able to enjoy them back to back with a fantastic dinner! Thank you, Otto Enoteca!

schiavaeruche

All the truffles.

Kellerei Kaltern Pfarrhof Kalterersee Classico Superiore 2014

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Winery: Kellerei Kaltern winery is located around Lake Kaltern in Alto Adige, northern Italy. With a motto of “Where wine is one of the family”, it consists of over 300 hectares of vineyards farmed by 440 members. The winery was officaily established in 1992, when 2 cellars Bauernkellerei [or Farmer’s Cellar, founded in 1906] and Jubiläumskellerei [or Jubilee Cellar, founded in 1908] merged. Kellerei Kaltern is known for crafting accessible wines with a distinctive mineral backbone.

Winemaking: The ‘Pfarrhof’ label is part of the ‘Cru’ Collection; “the crowning glory of meticulously careful viticulture, soil in thrilling harmony with the variety and faithful winemaking. Wines that respect the character certain plots can impart in an absolutely distinctive manner.” Grapes were sourced from selected old vine vineyards with southern exposure, with “heat absorbing, loamy, chalky gravel” soils.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild strawberry and cherry. Bright, tart cranberry, raspberry and strawberry flavours are given a shake of crushed pink peppercorn in the light to medium body. Silky tannins, tingly acidity and a trace of bitter almond provide an energizing harmony, whilst tart fruit carries thru to the clean finish.

Winery Pairing Recommendations: Ideal as an aperitif, an accompaniment to appetizers, or to typical Tyrolean fare such as speck and sausage, but also to lighter meats and mild cheeses.

95% Schiava, 5% Lagrein
Kalterersee Classico Superiore DOC
Alto Adige
Italy
Produced & Bottled by Kellerei Kaltern
13% Alcohol
$18 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2017

La Miraja Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG 2014

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Estate: Headed by 7th generation viticulturist Eugenio Gatti, La Miraja is ensconced in the original 11th century castle of Castagnole Monferrato. The armory of the castle was retrofitted as a wine cellar in the 1400’s and is still used by Gatti today. Many regard Castagnole Monferrato as the birthplace of Ruché, and rather fittingly, Eugenio Gatti has the oldest vineyard of Ruché grapes in existence. Production of Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato is incredibly limited, and it is only very recently that it has reached beyond the local environs.

Tasting Notes: Transparent red-violet in colour, extraordinarily fragrant, with revolving/evolving aromas [wildflowers, cherry, raisin, herbs, black pepper, earthy woods, & a hint of biodynamic funk]. Delectable smoky cherry, red currant and wild berries are dusted with a shake of black pepper, joining tingly acidity and an herbaceous streak in the medium body. Velvety, soft tannins meld into spice and murmurs of funky earth on the plush finish. Charismatic, distinctive, each glass finishes with a lithe swiftness.

100% Ruché
Castagnole Monferrato DOCG
Italy
Bottled by Azienda Agricola La Miraja
13.5% Alcohol
$25 [average price]
Enjoy now