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The Girlan and Bolzano wineries prove with their Vernatsch and Lagrein selections that it is not only international varieties such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet that produce wines that mature excellently. In them, the ripe autochtonous red South Tyroleans show themselves.

The Girlan Winery

Girlan is the first and so far the only winery to show that the South Tyrolean bread-and-butter wine, Vernatsch, has qualities that go far, far beyond what is expected of this variety. Gschleier, a selection from vines over 90 years old, has become a byword among insiders for high-quality, ripenable Vernatsch, and every friend of elegant, typical - and in the best sense of the word inexpensive - wines puts some of it in the cellar for future enjoyment.

A pleasure both when young and when mature: the Fass Nr. 9 (Source: Girlan Winery)

Much has already been written about the Gschleier and its ageing potential (see also the article in Wein-Plus-Magazin: "Die Gschleier sind gelüftet"). But the Girlaners do not only produce the Gschleier as a viable Vernatsch. The Vernatsch Fass Nr. 9, which is lower in quality and price, also often matures excellently. Certainly, not every vintage of this wine is suitable to take a place next to Barolo, Brunello, Amarone & Co. in the wine cellar, but one or the other Fass Nr. 9 will give even more pleasure in old age than in youthful years.

In any case, of the five vintages the winery let us taste, not a single weak drop was found. The oldest wine - a 1985! - presented itself sensationally and got better and better the longer it was opened.

Vernatsch barrel no. 9

2005 Vernatsch Barrel No. 9
86 Slightly matured, somewhat candied-nutty and old woody aroma of preserved and dried red berries with vegetal nuances as well as delicate bready, malty and tobacco aromas. Tart fruit in the mouth, woody and delicately tobacco notes, present, a hint of drying tannin, some power and melting on the palate, a little dried fruit, good persistence, firm construction, earthy tones in the background, very good, if again a hint of drying finish. Still in excellent shape.

2009 Vernatsch Fass No. 9
85 Tart, almondy and a little herbaceous scent of red and also some black berries with mineral hints in the background. Clear, fine fruit in the mouth, certain melting, almondy and slightly old woody notes, mineral and slightly earthy in the background, fine tannin, certain persistence, still quite young, dried floral traces, good finish.

2000 Vernatsch Barrel No. 9
83 Aged aroma of pickled and dried red and black berries, some whisky, peat and a hint of tobacco with distinct old woody aromas. Mature, calm fruit in the mouth, somewhat vegetal, woody and peaty, quite fine tannin, some melting on the palate, dried dark fruits, again clearly old woody aromas, blurs a little, decent finish. Drinking out.

1995 Vernatsch Cask No. 9
88 Lively and firm, slightly animalic aroma of pickled red berries, some black berries and a little cedar with earthy notes. Clear, tart, surprisingly lively fruit in the mouth, old woody, earthy and cedary notes, very slightly nutty on the palate, relatively present tannin, good persistence, relatively firm construction, still shows some freshness, fine bite, very good finish. Through 2015+.

1990 Vernatsch Barrel No. 9
87 Aged, nutty, old woody and a little cedary aroma of preserved and dried red and black berries with distinct tobacco notes. Soft, ripe fruit in the mouth, slightly vegetal and distinctly old woody tones, fine dusty tannin, good substance and persistence on the palate, tobacco and earthy to mineral flavours, cedary hints, very good finish. Drink.

1985 Schreckbichler from barrel no. 9
86 Nutty, old wood and tobacco aroma with notes of dried berries and dried vegetal aromas, some iodine and wilted flowers. Clear, mature fruit in the mouth, old and underwoody notes, a little sandy, slightly drying tannin, some persistence on the palate, vegetal flavours, at first already slightly over the point, but with air and slightly chilled then clearly juicier, gains depth and length, good to very good finish. Must be experienced to be believed. Drink.

The Girlan Winery in the Wine Guide


The Bolzano Winery

Bolzano, Gries district - that is Lagrein. The only, and unfortunately now very few, vineyards that have been able to defy urbanisation in Bolzano are also the top sites for Lagrein in South Tyrol. As far as the variety is concerned, Gries in Bolzano is a Grand Cru. Lagrein loves heat, and it gets it here. Bolzano is one of the warmest cities in Italy in summer. In its basin, all the heat that penetrates into the Italian north accumulates. The variety may not produce the finest wines, but under the right conditions it produces wines that combine their power and their sometimes downright lush, fleshy fruit with firm structure and a certain elegance that can still be refined over the years.

The best producers of high-quality Lagrein from Gries are certainly the Bolzano Winery and the Muri-Gries Monastery Winery. The former provided us with selected vintages of their top selection "Taber" for the tasting.

Lagrein sites in Bolzano Gries (source: Bolzano Winery)

Lagrein Riserva Taber

2004 Lagrein Riserva Taber
89 Firm, a hint of animal, earthy and vegetal scent of black berries and pickled cherries with dried floral hints, tobacco and a little cedar wood with blueberry notes, a little pepper and minerality. Powerful and very juicy in the mouth, ripe, polished, very slightly compote fruit, fine tannin, herbal aromas and a little candy, persistent on the palate, melting and relatively elegant for all its power, some depth, notes of dried tomatoes, best balance, minerality in the background, very good finish. Until 2017+.

2005 Lagrein Riserva Taber
88 Tart, somewhat smoky, animalic and sooty-roasty aroma of ripe, partly dried black berries with dried herb notes, a little tea, cedar, dried flowers and earthy notes. Firm and powerful in the mouth, ripe, quite juicy, dark fruit with toasty wood flavours reminiscent of bitter chocolate and candied nuts, quite fine, present tannin, persistent and grippy, lots of power and melting, but also cool elements, a hint of eucalyptus, mineral hints, some depth, very good, juicy and spicy finish. Through 2018+.

2006 Lagrein Riserva Taber
86 Tart, very slightly toasty and delicately vegetal aroma of black berries and a bit of preserved cherries with herbal aromas, some liquorice as well as nutty, animal and earthy tones. Clear, juicy and
and very ripe fruit in the mouth, some candy and stewed fruit, slightly toasty wood with notes of candied nuts and dark chocolate, predominantly crumbly tannin, quite persistent on the palate, has melting and power but also polish, not eternally deep, good finish. Through 2016+.

2007 Lagrein Riserva Taber
85 Relatively cool, quite firm but also a touch volatile aroma of partly preserved black berries with dried herb notes, aromas of dried flowers, some sour cherry and mineral tones. Soft, ripe, tangy fruit in the mouth, herbal and dried floral tones again, a hint of bitter chocolate, fine sandy tannin, has power and melt but also polish and cool elements, with air the volatile notes reminiscent of apple cider vinegar become more pronounced, good, somewhat juicy and chocolaty-spicy finish. Through 2014+.

2002 Lagrein Riserva Taber
87 Slightly matured, somewhat animalic bouquet reminiscent of French beans, of ripe, partly dried black berries and plums with cedary and slightly sooty woody notes, distinctly earthy tones and
dried floral hints. Juicy, polished, very ripe fruit in the mouth, candied-nutty and fine-chocolatey wood spice, fine, quite present tannin, lots of melt and power on the palate, but also cooling minty notes and minerality, a hint of caramel, lasting, a hint of vanilla spice, not eternally deep, very good finish. Through 2015+.

1995 Lagrein Riserva Taber
89 Aged, cedary and tobacco aroma of dried black berries, plums and cherries with slightly peppery flavours, earthy minerality, a bit of root vegetables and roasted beef. Clear,
cool, juicy and tightly knitted fruit in the mouth, some toasty wood spice, again earthy notes and root vegetables on the palate, fine sandy, predominantly friable tannin, persistent, quite pithy, cooling minerality, very slightly rustic and yet quite elegant, certain depth, very good finish. In first-class condition. Until 2014+.


Finally, our sincere thanks to all the wineries and winegrowers for opening their treasure troves of rarities to us. The journey into South Tyrol's wine past provided us with impressive moments that will remain in our memories for a long time.

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