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!

Apertivo from the Northeastern region of Trentino - Alto Adige

Apertivo from the Northeastern region of Trentino – Alto Adige

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!

Our Apertivo board features two different Speck hams with Trugole and Provolone Valpadana cheeses.

Our Apertivo board features two different Speck hams with Trugole and Provolone Valpadana cheeses.

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 piccante from near Trento

Provolone Valpadana piccante from near Trento

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 Cheese
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.

Trugole cheese is a nice, smooth textured cow's milk cheese

Trugole cheese is a nice, smooth textured cow’s milk cheese

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
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.

This Speck was closer in texture to prosciutto, with a bit of smoky flavor

Principe Speck was closer in texture to prosciutto, with a bit of smoky flavor

Our Speck from Principe was closer to the dry-cured side of the spectrum, Speck from Recla seemed to be more smoke cured.  We loved both.

Speck #2 is much drier in texture, clearly closer to the smoked side of the spectrum.

Speck from Recla is much drier in texture, clearly closer to the smoked side of the spectrum.

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.

Pinot Nero
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.

Lean and trim, this Pinot Nero was not aged in oak.

Lean and trim, this Pinot Nero was not aged in oak.

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.

Kerner
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.

Kerner wine text

Kerner wine text

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.

Does this look like an Italian wine cork??

Does this look like an Italian wine cork??

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!

Local Sources

trentino_AA_apertivo_20150315_72

Comments
3 Responses to “Trentino – Alto Adige Apertivo!”
  1. Great article Jeff. Love Sunfish Cellars. Follow them on Twitter. Wish they were in Dallas too fantastic!

  2. Looks delicious Jeff! I didn’t realize speck is easy to find. I don’t recall seeing it around. But then again I wasn’t looking for it either. Great photos as always. And your platter? If it weren’t so cold in MN, you might get a knock on the door;-)

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