Trentino – Alto Adige Apertivo!
Apertivo in the Trentino – Alto Adige
We’re great fans of apertivo time, so today we’re doing our best to create a Trentino – Alto Adige version at home here in Minnesota. We have a fluke 70 deg. day in March, so we moved out to the deck for the 1st time since October. We’ll still have more snow, but we’ll take spring for a day!
We try to do the best we can sourcing wines and foods from the region. Sometimes its easy, sometimes not so much. Alto Adige wines – check. Speck from Alto Adige – check. Cheeses, well let’s say cheeses from northern Italy – close enough. Let’s go!
Provolone Valpadana Cheese
Provolone Valpadana is different from what we know as American “provolone” cheese. This one comes from Latteria Soresina. Provolone Valpadana cheese can be produced in a large region which encompasses Lombardy, Emilia, the Veneto and the Trento. It’s from the general region, but not specifically Alto Adige.
Provolone Valpadana cheese is a raw cow’s milk cheese which comes in both piccante and dolce forms. The piccante is a sharp cheese and when aged seems quite different from what we think of as provolone here in the U.S. The dolce (sweet/mild) is closer to the cheese we know. Our cheese was the piccante, and it was very nice. Firm and dry in texture, it has a pungent aroma, almost sour but not quite.
Trugole comes from near the town of Asiago, just outside the border of Trentino – Alto Adige, but close enough. Also a cow’s milk cheese, Trugole is semi-soft and is very mild. A nice counterpoint to the Provolone Valpadana piccante.
The name comes from the small village on the Asiago plateau where the cheese was created near the Trugole alpine hut. The gentle flavor comes from the type of forage that the livestock eat in this particular meadow.
Speck is a ham made at the intersection of dry-cured pork from Italy and smoked pork from the Tyrol. The flavor is different from prosciutto with its smoky side, but thinly sliced, you can clearly taste the similarity. Speck is pretty easy to find, so you might want to try a couple of different ones, you’ll see there is a range of styles.
Wines from the Alto Adige
We’ve been acquainting ourselves with the wines of Trentino – Alto Adige all month. There are a lot to try! Reds include local grapes such as Schiava and Refosco, and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) is also popular. Whites include local grapes such as Kerner, also more familiar Pinot Gris, Müller Thurgau.
There are a variety of red grapes grown in this northern region. One of the international varieties that does well is Pinot Nero, or as we know it, Pinot Noir.
J. Hofstatter Meczan Pinot Nero 2013 ($21 locally at Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear and barely transparent, a very pretty garnet color.
Nose: Initially quite earthy. Over time, strawberries emerge to take equal stage with the earthy base.
Mouth: Lean and trim with bright red fruit in the flavor. More fruit than savory. Not too surprised it was not aged in oak.
The Kerner grape is a relatively young grape, having been bred in Germany in 1929. The wine it produces is a very pretty, aromatic white wine of light to medium body. Today, it is probably more common in Alto Adige than it is in Germany.
Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2013 ($20 locally at Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Bright clear, yellow-green, lightly colored
Nose: Fresh, fruity and seemingly sweet nose. Ripe pears, flowers,
Mouth: Medium body and fruity. Tart, dry, with a slightly bitter finish. That slight bitterness makes a nice pairing with the sharpness in the Provolone Valpadana piccante cheese. Fun fact: the Abbazia is a working abbey and convent with a boarding school and winery! You can buy your wine and attend mass.
One of the unique things that sets Alto Adige wines apart is their labels, wording, everything indicates South Tyrol (Südtirol). You’d never guess you’re in Italy!
- Wines – Sunfish Cellars in Lilydale has a nice selection of wines from Trentino – Alto Adige
- Speck and Cheeses – Jerry’s Foods in Edina, Broder’s Cucina in South Minneapolis, and Surdyk’s Deli in downtown Minneapolis