The Dolomite mountains of Italy are a sought-after destination for discerning skiers and snowboarders. With dozens of ski areas from large resort towns to smaller, local venues, and a wide variety of other winter activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or shopping and spa visits, there is something for both skier and non-skier alike. But did you know that this very same area produces some of the best wines in Italy?
To quote wine experts Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch, “For those who love both the outdoors and wines, Trentino-Alto Adige is hard to beat.” We make a point to try these amazing local wines during our daily tastings on the ski tours we lead, so don’t miss an opportunity to try a few of these after your day on the slopes.
TRENTODOC Spumate wines are a great start to any evening. Early in the 1900s, a local from Trento, Guido Ferrari, returned from France where he had apprenticed to Champagne producers. He applied the classic Champagne production method, known in Italian as Metodo Classico, to locally grown chardonnay grapes. Today there are 25 vineyards producing over 70 labels of sparkling wines in this DOC region in Trentino.
Lagrein is a red grape native to the Lagarina valley in Trentino-Alto Adige. A very distinctive, native red with strong herbal notes, it is used in red and rosé wines. Lagrein produces a very deep yet intense red color in wine, with flavors of dark berry and cherry, and notes of tobacco and mushrooms. It is a bit more tannic than its relatives such as Syrah or Pinot Noir, but its high acidity makes it a great wine to pair with a variety of foods.
A very interesting, and relatively unknown varietal from Alto Adige. Schiava is a black skinned grape that carries many names; German speakers in Alto Adige call it Vernatsch, Italians use Schiava, and in Germany, Trollinger. This is a light, flavorful wine; lots of red berries, spice and herbs, with a persistent, just slightly bitter finish. It’s bright acidity makes it a great pairing to the local pork dishes, like speck and salumi.
The Kerner grape is white grape variety with a very intense aroma. Originally developed in Germany, is it a cross of Schiava with the white grape Riesling. Kerner exhibits considerable resistance to colder weather, ideal for the cooler climate of Alto Adige, and thrives in the higher elevations of Valle Isarco and Val Venosta. The wines made from this varietal are wonderfully rich in flavor, with bright floral aromas and a full, fruity palate.
Try a Vino Santo with your dessert, a sweet wine made from dried grapes. This is not to be confused with the Vin Santo produced in Tuscany. This is a unique traditional wine of the region, incorporating the native Nosiola varietal. Nosiola is the oldest white grape variety grown in Trentino. Nosiola wines are very pale, almost white, with hints of green and a delicate flavor. After harvesting as late as possible, the Nosiola grapes are hung in an âareleâ, a well-ventilated area where they will dry nicely due to a favorable north wind. After some drying, the grapes are then exposed to the noble rot, botrytis cinerea, which continues the process of extracting even more juice, further concentrating the sugars in the grapes.
Kathy Bechtel is Owner of Italiaoutdoors.