Unique Mountain Wines of Alto Adige #ItalianFWT

Italian Food Wine and Travel Mountain Wine Exploration
Our Italian Food Wine and Travel group August assignment is “Mountain Wines” of Italy. Pretty easy, as there’s the Swiss Alps, the French Alps, the Dolomites, the Apennines, Vesuvius, Vulture, Mt. Etna in Sicily. Our assignment might have been more difficult if it had been the “Non-Mountainous” areas of Italy! Come along to see what our group has discovered growing in the mountains all around Italy!

Since it has been some time since I’ve enjoyed wines from Alto Adige, I decided to return to this unique area. Alto Adige is situated close to Austria in the Dolomites. In fact the area is known equally as Alto Adige and Südtirol, requiring the German keyboard.  Foods are more likely to turn to mountain and Austrian influence vs. pasta, risotto, or polenta. And there are grapes grown here for wine that you just don’t see elsewhere. What fun!

Weingut Niklas Alto Adige Schiava DOC 2015 ($20 at Henry & Son)
Weingut Niklas is located in the Alto Adige, only a short drive from the Austrian border. From the importer’s website: “Dieter’s Schiava is made of two different types of the Schiava variety (also called Vernatsch or Trollinger) from the vineyards around Lake Caldaro, in the South Tyrol. It is all stainless steel vinification. Pale red in color; aromas and flavors of fraises do bois, herbs, and orange peel. This is a very versatile red wine, particularly in warmer weather; great with cured meats (especially the Tyrolean specialty, Speck), pizza; or grilled chicken, pork, or salmon. Best drunk at cellar temperature, or after 30 minutes in the fridge.”

Jeff’s Notes
Eye: Clear, very pale ruby, could pass for a deeply colored rosato
Nose: Clean, bright ripe red cherry fruit with a bit of pencil lead.
Mouth: Dry, medium+acidity, low tannins, medium- body. Bright cherry flavor with strong fruit, medium finish.

Manni Nössing Südtirol Eisacktaler Kerner 2013 DOC ($30 Kermit Lynch)
Kermit Lynch (the importer) describes Kerner: “Powerfully scented of mountain meadow flowers and white fruit.” Kerner is a relatively new invention, created as a cross between Riesling and the red grape Schiava in 1929, and only released for general use in 1969! In Alto Adige, the mountain altitude and climate produces white wines with high acidity, and Kerner is no exception.

Jeff’s notes
Eye: Clear, pale straw-lemon color
Nose: Clean, medium intensity, with white flowers & chalk, underripe pears.
Mouth: Dry, high acidity balanced with medium body so as not to be too tart. Refreshing and delicious, especially with food.

Chicken Saltimbocca – Chicken Wrapped in Speck and Sage
Saltimbocca means “jump into the mouth”, and it’s a typical Italian preparation of a sautéed cutlet of veal or chicken wrapped in prosciutto and sage. Given our mountain theme and Alto Adige wines, I used speck instead of prosciutto, as it comes from the region. Note: have your deli slice the speck just a little thicker than they would for normal charcuterie so it holds together better while cooking. The normal preparation is sautéeing, but the grill works great as well. Simply place 1 or 2 fresh sage leaves on each chicken piece and then wrap in a slice of speck. Secure the speck with a toothpick or two to hold it in place. Grill over medium heat until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° F.

Julie commented that she didn’t care for carrots blackened on the grill (OK, so sometimes I over-do it), so I prepared the carrots both ways: steamed in foil and roasted. Lesson: if I don’t over-blacken the carrots, we both preferred the grill roasted carrots, they’re nice and carmelized. You’d never see sweet corn on a plate in Italy, but in Minnesota in August, you’d be hard pressed to NOT see an ear of corn on the plate at our house!

As for the wine pairing, the Kerner was my favorite with the chicken. Super clean tasting with enough body to balance the chicken, it was just right. The Schiava was good, but all that bright fruit was a bit more at home with the carmelized carrots. I could definitely see the Schiava pairing well with a whole host of lighter foods, and if you want a red wine to serve with a lighter fish dish, this could do very nicely. Also, any type of fruity sauce would pair beautifully with the Schiava. (click on any photo to enter slide show, hit “escape” to exit)

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Mountain Wine Ideas
Take a look at what our talented group of bloggers have created for exploring the mountain wines of Italy. If you see this in time, please join our chat twitter, just search for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter at 10:00 am CDT on Saturday, August 5.

Jennifer is the author of Planning Your Dream Wedding in Tuscany. Her perspectives on Rias Baixes DO, Villa Maria winemaker Helen Morrison and Italian red wines for summer are recent blog highlights.

Recently, Susannah has written about underrated Molise, the Italian varietal Marsanne Bianco and the Argentinian winery Dona Paula.

Throne & Vine has recently covered South Tyrol’s wayside shrines, wickedly cool castles in South Tyrol and reasons for visiting Alto Adige.

Visit Lauren’s blog for comprehensive coverage on wines from the Tour de France route, the summer wine blend of Verdicchio + Vermentino and the Burgundian region of Mercurey.

Lynn’s blog covers her summer French rosé tasting, the French Basque wine region of Irouléguy and the bubbly Italian wine Franciacorta.

Peach-tomato salad with herb vinaigrette, grilled Porterhouse with pea-shoot pesto and Arròs Negre {black paella} with allioli a la catalana are some of the fresh features on Camilla’s blog.

Organic Natura wines, Vignobles Brumont, a Madiran producer in Southwest France and Italian Wine 101: Intro to Italian Wine and Chianti are topics Jeff has on the blog now.

Martin covered ten white wines from Lodi for summer, his wines of the day picks and a highlight of Southwestern France’s Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.

Gwendolyn has published over 600 posts on her blog – this summer she covered the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Spanish white wines paired with tacos and how to taste and pair wine + cheese.

Jill has posted previous Winemaker Rendezvous features include Melissa Burr of Stoller Family Estates, Greg Rowdan of Matua and Theresa Heredia of Gary Farrell (plus more here).


Grilled Chicken Saltimbocca with Alto Adige Wines from www.foodwineclick.com

17 Responses to “Unique Mountain Wines of Alto Adige #ItalianFWT”
  1. culinarycam says:

    ‘Saltimbocca’ is one of my favorite words! And the dish is pretty close to the top of my list, too. Great wines and photos, as always, Jeff. Can’t wait to track down a bottle or two. Cheers.

  2. Lynn says:

    So enjoyed your post Jeff! While I’ve heard of the Kerner grape, I didn’t know its history. I can just imagine back yard BBQ on a warm summer evening with two nice wines. Saltimbocca on the grill- great!

  3. Kerner is my new favorite white wine! I loved the one I did and look forward to tasting more.

  4. Schiava was a really nice surprise for me, too. I really enjoyed it! Based on your description of the Kerner, I look forward to trying a bottle of it soon – if I can find one! As always, the food looks amazing.

  5. That’s a mouthwatering meal Jeff..with photos to match. And it sounds like you had two delightful wines as well! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Interesting to see kerner and the tidbits you shared on that grape and wine. Beautiful photos as always! I recently chose schiava as one of my top summer Italian red grapes too ; )

  7. Looks delicious Jeff. I’ve been wanting that Kerner since I had it in NYC in December. Sadly, haven’t located it in Dallas yet & as you know Kermit Lynch doesn’t ship to Texas.

  8. Looks yummy feels hungry…

  9. delacroixllc says:

    Your Chicken Saltimbocca paired with these wines sounds like complete perfection. I love Kerner. It is such a delightful wine. Who could resist a description of “powerfully scented of mountain meadow flower…?” We’re also based in MN and couldn’t agree with you more on summer days requiring an ear of corn. Beautifully written article!

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