When thinking of Italian wine, Amarone, Barolo and Chianti may be what most readily springs to mind, but Richard Baudains reveals a treasure trove of original yet overlooked wines just waiting to be discovered. See his pick of 10 wines from the most exciting Italian terroirs here...
Unchartered Italy: Lagrein DOC, Alto Adige
4. Lagrein DOC, Alto Adige
The red wines of the Alto Adige do not have a high profile abroad, partly because the region is better known for its whites and partly because most of its production is absorbed locally by the tourist trade. Among the treats we are missing out on is Lagrein. One of the lesser-known facts about this bilingual alpine region that borders Austria is that July temperatures around the provincial capital of Bolzano often top those of Palermo in Sicily. It’s this climate that, on the stony, glacial-alluvial soils of the valley bottom, gives Lagrein its near-Mediterranean traits; impenetrable, inky dark shades, ripe fruit and dense tannins. The varietal character is toned down in the younger annata wines, but oak-aged riservas deliver the full-on profile. The top crus are at Gries, where, sadly, the ancient walled vineyards are under threat from encroaching suburban development. Production is limited, but quality – as it is across the region as a whole – is absolutely impeccable.
Ignaz Niedrist, Berger Gei, Gries 2009
Intense cassis and wild berry aroma, with hints of ink and pencil lead. Broad palate of refined tannins and a long, juicy finish of liquorice and tar. 18.5pts/20
Price: £21.30 Astrum
Cantina Produttori di Bolzano, Gries 2009
Wild berries on the nose with touches of bitter herbs and dark chocolate. Fresh, juicy palate, with good, solid fruit, balanced acidity, fine, soft tannins and a smooth, easy drinking finish. Great value. 17.5pts/20
Price: £8.84 London Wine Deliveries
Other recommended producers:
Laimburg, Loacker-Schwarhof, Lageder, Josephus Mayr, Muri-Gries, Terlano