Alto Adige Wines at the Dinner Table

Where’s Alto Adige?
The Trentino – Alto Adige region is in the north central region of Italy, with Alto Adige being the northernmost region, immediately south of Austria. In fact, until the first World War, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Even today, the region is often referred to as Südtirol.

Alto Adige is the northern of the two regions. Map courtesy of Italian Wine Central

Alto Adige Wine 101
Alto Adige has a fortunate combination of factors which support high quality wine grapes. Vineyards are sited in the foothills of the Dolomites, and the mountains and altitude provide good cooling at night for grapes to retain their acidity. The mountains protect the area from cold north winds and also block weather systems, resulting in a very high percentage of sunny days. Given the moderate climate, white wine grapes shine here as well as cooler climate red grapes. There are a number of grapes grown in the region which are less known and well worth exploring. If you’re interested in learning more, Alto Adige Wines has a very informative website here.

Disclosure: the wines for this post were provided as samples. No other compensation was involved, all opinions expressed are mine.

Cantina Eisacktaler Valle Isarco Alto Adige Grüner Veltliner DOC 2016 (sample $15 SRP, or online here) 13.5%
Eye: Medium lemon with a touch of dissolved CO2 (tiny bubbles in the glass)
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of ripe lemons, peach, white pepper, a bit of slate
Mouth: Dry, Medium plus acidity, medium plus body, medium alcohol, medium intensity flavors, medium plus finish. Flavors follow the aromas, especially the lemon and slate.
Observations: Though 5 years out from vintage, this wine is still fresh and very refreshing, well done!

Alois Lageder “Conus” Lagrein Riserva 2014 Alto Adige DOC (sample $30 SRP or online here) 12.5% made with Demeter Certified Biodynamic Grapes
Eye: Deep garnet
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of ripe cranberries, strawberries, red plum, black plum. A bit of dried fruit – blueberries, blackberries, leather, tobacco.
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, firm medium chalky tannins, medium body, medium alcohol, pronounced flavor intensity, medium plus finish.
Observations: A developing wine with both fresh and dried fruits, this wine is very enjoyable now but could be cellared longer, it’s still very fresh.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
We tried these two wines over a dinner of Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce from a recipe in Eating Well magazine. We enjoyed these very much and have made them several times. Although I thought the Grüner Veltliner would be a better pairing, I always like to try an alternate wine as well. Often I’m surprised at how well a white wine will go with beef or a red wine with fish. This time, however, the Grüner Veltliner hit the mark and the Lagrein was just not the right partner.

Lagrein as a Burger Wine
We knew the first test wasn’t really a fair one, so we decided to give the Lagrein another opportunity the next day. Indeed, it was an excellent pairing with a nice hamburger fresh off the grill.

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