29 Mar 2012

The sun'll come out, tomorrow (Alto Adige, Italy - Day Three)

Thanks to the generosity of Franz Haas who put me up for the night in Ora, I didn’t have as far to travel both to and from my accommodation. Sleeping in a bit was blessed relief, as was the necessity to spend so much time in the car. Whilst it is nice to have a private room, a large bed, my own bathroom and general peace and quiet, it does get very lonely of an evening. It’s bad enough that I spend so much time in the car by myself, particularly on those long drives between regions. Travelling in Europe so far has been more difficult, as when I have been able to find hostels to stay at in the regions, they have been either empty, full of families/school groups, or the young people staying there are working or studying and not interested in socialising. The weekend I had in Vienna was fantastic, and staying with friends in Paris and Dusseldorf were great. This is one of the reasons I am so glad to be in Italy, because people seem so much more generous and hospitable and I am looking forward to sharing great times and meeting people here over the next eight weeks.
Protected viticulture in Terlan
Like many regions in Europe, Alto Adige has a great history of viticulture, but generally the fruit or base wine was sold/provided to cooperatives or large wineries. Over the years many families who owned larger parcels of vineyards branched out on their own, but there are still many wineries with numerous grape growing members. Cantina Terlano is one such cooperative, located funnily enough in the village of Terlan. In 1893, 24 local wine growers came together to share resources in production and administration, and thus created the second oldest winery co-operative in the region. Recently Cantina Terlano joined with the first cooperative winery in Alto Adige, which has roughly one third of the members that Terlano has (120 members), but much smaller average hectare ownership (less than a hectare). These vineyards are in many locations in the valley, some sitting very high on the side of hills. Producing around 2.5 million bottles from so many vineyards is no mean feat, but the winery manages with great success and quality. Since combining the two cantinas some serious refurbishments have been made to the winery.

Barriques in the cellars of Cantina Terlano
Tasting through the range of wines Cantina Terlano produces, you see the commitment to produce quality at all levels, and to do so with a range of grape varieties. A unique wine in the range is the Terlaner DOCG, a blend of pinot bianco (60%), chardonnay (30%) and sauvignon blanc (10%). The 2011 vintage had a bright juicy yellow apple nose, light yet rich and textural on the palate with some nice warmth and ripeness. The Vorberg Pinot Bianco Riserva 2009 had a very closed subtle nose, but on the palate had great focus, purity and restraint, with a lightly creamy lees derived texture. The 2004 vintage of the same wine was a lot bolder with stone fruit and more prominent oak, and looked a little clunky. Another very unique wine, the 1999 Chardonnay that sat on lees for ten years in tank, was extremely subtle and hauntingly familiar with soft and gentle acids but plenty of life left in it. In the reds the Lagrein variety is king, with a wonderfully fresh and savoury Rose 2011 to start with. The 2009 Gries Lagrein Riserva was lovely and soft on the palate, great intensity and spice, full in fruit without being too heavy. The Porphyr Lagrein Riserva of the same vintage had a deeper chocolate spice element, fuller and more intense on the palate, showing more oak as well.

Quite a tasting
Although it is a historic estate, it is not history that defines Manincor Wine Estate. The estate’s historical buildings date to 1608, built by the man the estate is named after, Hieronymus Manincor. ‘Man-in-cor’ means roughly ‘Hand on heart’ and can still be seen on the facade of the manor house in the coat of arms. In 1978 the estate became fully owned by the Counts Enzenberg, one of the most prominent Tyrolean families for 800 years. The brand itself is very new, being created in 1996. Until then the vineyards had provided fruit to Cantinas Kaltern and Terlano, but Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg wanted to produce his own wine from the 50 hectares of estate vineyards. More than this he wanted to do so biodynamically, no mean feat considering the hectares are high for a single ownership. Looking into the future a new winemaking facility was required, and one that could handle any future increases in production. This was done in a very sustainable and aesthetically amazing way, with considerable time and financial investment. Next to the Alois Lageder winery, it is the most energy efficient and and technically precise in the region, but also suits the environment perfectly as it is almost entirely the hill.

Manincor Estate
The Manincor range consists of wine coming from two different parts of Alto Adige; Terlan and Tramin, and each variety that is planted is specifically selected for the unique qualities of the site. The Eichhorn Pinot Bianco 2010 was deep but delicately youthful and closed, with balanced texture and concentrated harmony. The Sophie Chardonnay 2010 had a very contained leesy citrus nose, showing lemon curd and peach skin characters, retaining some crispness with the oak and lees texture influence. The Di Lieben Eich Sauvignon 2010 had bright mineral notes reminiscent of chablis, purity and elegance with texture and restraint to boot. The Mason Pinot Nero 2009 was very delicate, almost too quiet on the nose, with fresh acids and light tannins and fruit. The Mason di Mason Pinot Nero 2009 by comparison had a much stalkier and earthier concentration on the nose, showing at the same time ruby red cherry and mineral notes, with more ageing potential. The best wine of the tasting was the Cassiano 2009, an equal blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and tempranillo. Full yet bright, soft and mellow yet tannnic and warm, dense but not heavy or alcoholic, it had great focus and complexity and will age wonderfully. As a parting gift I was not only given a bottle to enjoy, but also some Cassiano-infused chocolate, estate apple juice, and most importantly enough tickets to attend each day of the Vinitaly fair in Verona the following week.

Lawnmowers hard at work
Click here to see more photos from Day Three in Alto Adige

No comments:

Post a Comment