You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

In 2010, the South Tyrolean tastings were once again an extremely pleasing affair. A good half of the wines sent in were rated "excellent" or better and almost all of the rest were rated "very good". This high average level cannot be found in any other region in Italy. What is particularly pleasing about the South Tyroleans is that they are going their own way with increasing self-confidence, not letting themselves be driven crazy by fashion trends and for the most part producing wines full of character at a consistently high level.

The results in detail:

The white leading varieties - Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon and Traminer

Steep slopes near Nals

These three varieties are the ones that produce the most in South Tyrol in terms of volume, and they are supposed to shape the image of the region, especially on foreign markets. The image they present with the 2009 vintage is impressive. There is a large selection of excellent wines from all three, with the local Traminer leading the field in terms of points. Lush, multi-layered and complex fruit aromas as well as a long shelf life characterise the wines, which come mainly from the south of the country (Überetsch and the Unterland). The local cooperatives from Tramin and Kurtatsch are ahead of the game here. But also the Kaltern Winery with its biodynamically produced Traminer of the 'Solos' line and Johannes Weger from Girlan with his selection 'Maso delle Rose' set striking exclamation marks. The Gewürztraminer wines from the Valle Isarco are quite different, rather slender and mineral. The wines of Klaus Lentsch/Weinhof Hemberg and Markus Prackwieser/Gumphof show that South Tyrol's north offers excellent conditions for this South Tyrolean classic.

Clear, fresh aromas can be found in the good Pinot Blancs and also in the Sauvignon. 2009 was characterised by relatively low acidity and quite high gradations. The alcohol is well integrated, at least in the better wines, and since they are mostly consistently dry, they generally present themselves tightly and offer drinking pleasure full of character.

In the Sauvignon category, Peter Dipoli came out on top with his 'Voglar' 2008, as he does every year. Among the 2009 Sauvignons, the selections of the cooperatives (Erste + Neue, Kellerei Kaltern, Kellerei Tramin, St. Pauls, Girlan and Kurtatsch) as well as the bottlings of the self-marketers Andreas Berger/Thurnhof and Dieter Sölva/Niklashof were convincing. The best Pinot Blancs were the Nals-Margreid Winery with the 'Sirmian', the Tramin Winery with the 'Moriz' selection and again Dieter Sölva/Weingut Niklas.

Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Müller-Thurgau, Goldmuskateller & white cuvées

However, the South Tyroleans show what they can do not only with their leading varieties. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Müller-Thurgau also feel very much at home in the Alpine-Mediterranean climate of Italy's northernmost wine-growing region and are usually skilfully developed by the producers. In the case of Chardonnay, the combination of moderate use of wood and mineral components results in extremely animating wines in which the typical varietal aroma is well developed.

Vineyards in the Unterland near Neumarkt

K. Martini from Girlan convinced with the two selection wines 'Maturum' and 'Paladium' and Erste + Neue with their 'Salt'. Chardonnay is often brought to market a little later. Usually after one year. The 'Baron Salvadori' from the Nals-Margreid Winery and the 'Flora' selection from the Girlan Winery show that this can produce extremely interesting results. The most impressive, however, was the Riserva from 2007, matured even longer, by the self-marketer Otmar Mair/Bessererhof. A sustained, mineral wine that is now excellently presented, but will certainly continue to give great pleasure for the next two to three years. The price is also pleasing here: eight euros for a wine of this quality is already a gift to the wine lover.

Pinot Grigio can also be an extremely interesting wine in South Tyrol, which has nothing to do with the pale little wines that are unfortunately still offered in considerable numbers under this name from other Italian regions in Germany. The 'Penóner' from the Kurtatsch winery and the 'Unterebner' from the Tramin winery are powerful, deep wines. And this variety also produces wines with a certain ageing potential in South Tyrol, as the post-tasting of the 2008 'Crescendo' from Ritterhof in Kaltern showed.

In terms of quantity, Müller-Thurgau is rather insignificant in South Tyrol. This variety is preferably cultivated in the Eisack Valley, where it finds the temperature differences between day and night that are necessary for the development of aromas. The few examples that were sent in for the tastings offer real drinking pleasure with their independent but not obtrusive aromas. In addition to the Eisacktal wines (Garlider, Strasserhof, Eisacktaler Kellerei der Kellerei Bozen as well as Kettmeir), Martin Aurich/Castel Juval was particularly convincing with his Müller-Thurgau from Vinschgau, where similar climatic conditions prevail.

The South Tyrolean speciality Goldmuskateller has increasingly been vinified as a dry wine in recent years, and this year there were again some striking drops that are excellent as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to many Asian dishes. Otmar Mair/Bessserhof, Klaus Lentsch/Weingut H. Lentsch, Castel Sallegg and Castelfeder delivered above-average qualities, as in previous years.

The white wine cuvées in South Tyrol are getting better and better. Chardonnay is represented in almost all of them, supplemented, depending on the origin and the cellar master's ideas, by Pinot Grigio and/or the aromatic varieties Sauvignon, Goldmuskateller, Traminer and Riesling. Naturally, you won't find a uniform line here, but a series of expressive growths that not only survive a certain maturing period well, but can also provide pleasant surprises again and again after a few years. Here the best examples came from the wineries Tramin (Stoan), Kurtatsch ((Freienfeld) as well as the self-marketers Dieter Sölva/Niklashof (Mondevinum 2007) and Luis Ochsenreiter/Haderburg with his Cuvée Obermairlhof 2008 from the Eisacktal.

Valle Isarco and Vinschgau

These two smallest wine-growing zones in South Tyrol should be considered separately because the conditions here are completely different from those in the rest of South Tyrol. In the Valle Isarco, you can already see from the varieties cultivated that it is a completely separate area. Instead of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, you mainly find Sylvaner, Veltliner, Kerner, Riesling and Müller-Thurgau here. The wines are usually quite full-bodied, but also have the freshness, minerality and necessary acidity that make them unmistakable mountain wines.

Vineyard terraces in the Eisack Valley

As every year, the Eisacktaler Kellerei and the self-marketer Garlider delivered a convincing range of wines. In addition, there were excellent, very individual growths from the biodynamically working wineries Loacker and Haderburg as well as a convincing collection from the Eisacktal pioneer winery Kuenhof of Peter & Brigitte Pliger, which took part in the Wein-Plus tastings for the first time.

In the Vinschgau Valley, besides Pinot Blanc, the main focus is on Riesling. And, with a few exceptions, it is probably the only area in Italy where it really makes sense to grow this delicate variety. This year, only Martin Aurich (Castel Juval) sent in wines, because Franz Pratzner (Falkenstein) had already sold out by the middle of the year. The Juval Riesling was convincing as every year, but with a noticeable residual sweetness due to the vintage, it deviates somewhat from the bone-dry style that is otherwise almost universally found in South Tyrol. The 2009 version of the 'Gneis', the 'simple' red wine from Martin Aurich, is impressive. A cuvée of, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt and the for South Tyrol unusual varieties St. Laurent, Gamaret, Garanoir.

The autochthonous red classics: Vernatsch and Lagrein

This year, for the first time, a Vernatsch wine was awarded the highest distinction, the Tre Bicchieri, by Italy's wine bible Gambero Rosso. This is gratifying. Because Vernatsch has been much better than its reputation for years. It is even more pleasing that Johannes Pfeifer from Pfannenstielhof, an extremely likeable winemaker, was chosen by the Gambero. In my opinion, however, the Gambero tasters could have been a little more generous. Even though not as many Vernatsch wines from the 2009 vintage landed in the "excellent" category as in the previous year at Wein-Plus, there were some Vernatsch that deserved 3 glasses. And among them are not Sankt Magdalener, in which the small amount of Lagrein provides for a somewhat stronger colour and more fullness, which is apparently needed to be included in the circle of Tre Bicchieri candidates. Above all, the delicate, single-varietal Vernatsch from Lake Caldaro and from the Unterland region show in an elegant, delicately fruity way the enjoyment potential of this noble sparkling wine. In the Wein-Plus tastings, they did even better than the wines from St. Magdalena. The best examples of the 2009 vintage were the Kalterersee 'Bischofsleiten' from Castel Sallegg, the Vernatsch 'Galea' from the Nals-Margreid Winery and the 'Freisinger' from the Tramin Winery. As every year, the Vernatsch 'Gschleier' from the Girlan Winery was at the top of the list, but the 2008 vintage, because it always comes onto the market a year later. In the case of Sankt Magdalener, it was, as so often, the 'Rondell' from Franz Gojer/Glögglhof that scored best, together with the 'Rielerhof' from Josef Brigl.

Saint Magdalena

In the basic Lagrein versions of the 2009 and 2008 vintages, there were a number of clear, pure-toned wines, generally not too full-bodied and intense, that offer good value for their price (between €5 and €10). Unfortunately, there are also many rather one-dimensional wines to be found here. So you should definitely try them before you buy. The 2009 bottlings from Franz Gojer/Glögglhof and the 'Urban' selection from the Tramin Winery are outstanding, however.

The Riserva qualities are already more interesting, because the producers' stylistic confidence is increasingly solidifying. Overaged wines, which used to be almost exclusively found in this category, are becoming less and less common. In many wines, the wood is now well integrated and associated with a certain elegance, even refinement. The best examples come from the wineries Girlan (SelectArt 2007 and Laurin 2007), Nals-Margreid (Baron Salvadori 2007), Bozen (Taber 2007), Kurtatsch (Frauriegl 2007), der Ersten + Neuen (Puntay 2007), vom Happacherhof (Riserva 2008), Ferruccio Carlotto (Di Ora in Ora 2008), Schmid-Oberrautner (Riserva 2007), Castel Sallegg (Riserva 2007), Loacker (Gran Lareyn 2007), Josef Brigl (Riserva 2006) and K. Martini (Riserva Maturum 2008).

Cabernet and red cuvées

What was said about the Lagrein Riservas also applies to South Tyrolean Cabernet wines and cuvées, in which this grape variety sets the tone. At the first big Wein-Plus-Südtirol tasting four years ago, there was still a lot of grumbling about these wines: "Wines with character and real depth are not easy to find. The generous use of wood, which most producers give them, does not make things any better. Although wood-painted wines are still favourites at many tastings today, the wines do not always stand up to a more critical examination. They often come across as too superficial, and after just a few years most wines taste more or less woody, brittle and uncharming." (Marcus Hofschuster in August 2006). Certainly, you can still find some woody would-be Bordeaux in this category. But there are fewer and fewer of them. The wineries that have dedicated themselves to these varieties with ambition have found their own style, and produce wines with character and depth with nice regularity. Often, the wines are given a certain South Tyrolean flair by adding the local Lagrein. Above all, however, there is an increasing tendency towards drinkable wines with a certain mineral component. The best wines were produced by the following wineries: Peter Sölva & Söhne ('Edizione Amistar' 2007), Gert Pomella/Weingut Milla ('milla' 2007 and 'centa' 2006), Roland Rohregger/Prälatenhof (Cabernet Riserva 2007), Josefus Mayr/Unterganzner (Cabernet Riserva 'Kampill' 2007, Klaus Lentsch (Palestina 2005), Josef Niedermayr (Euforius 2007), the Kurtatsch Winery (Freienfeld 2007, Soma 2008, Kirchhügl 2008), Girlan (Riserva Rossa 2007), Tramin (Loam 07), Baron Di Pauli (Arzio 2006).

Vineyards in the Unterland near Buchholz

Pinot Noir

Within Italy, the density of excellent Pinot Noirs is certainly nowhere greater than in South Tyrol. This is why Pinot Noir is the third leading variety among South Tyrolean red wines, alongside the local varieties Vernatsch and Lagrein. However, there was light and shade in the wines submitted this year for 2007 and 2008. In addition to fine, filigree wines with elegance and varietal typicity, there were also some wines that turned out rather one-dimensional and from which one would have expected more based on the experiences of the past years. On the other hand, other wineries that had been somewhat disappointing in recent years delivered excellent wines. This shows that Pinot Noir is an extremely difficult variety that develops its unpredictable characteristics every year, regardless of the winemaker's skills. Conclusions about the qualities of a winery are therefore only possible to a limited extent. This year, the best wines were submitted by the following wineries: Josef Niedermayr (Riserva 2007 and Precios 2007), Castelfeder (Riserva Borgum Novum 2007), Castel Sallegg (Riserva 2006), Cantina Bolzano (Riserva 2007), Cantina Girlan (Riserva Trattmann 2007), Cantina Tramin (Meglen 2007) and Cantina Merano-Burggräfler (Riserva Zeno 2007).

Sparkling wines

South Tyrolean sparkling wine is always a high-quality, enjoyable affair. Everything offered under this name is at least very good, most excellent and often even better. You can practically do no wrong if you buy a bottle of 'Metodo tradizionale' or 'Talento' or however the sparkling wines are called. The bottle-fermented sparklers from South Tyrol are on a par with champagne, but cost much less.

The members of the South Tyrolean Sparkling Wine Association

So if you don't need the name 'champagne' to make an impression as a gift or if you need the security of a big name for yourself, you should try the wines from Josef Reiterer/Arunda-Vivaldi, Luis Ochsenreiter/Haderburg, Lorenz Martini, Kettmeir and the St. Pauls Winery. They offer the highest drinking pleasure at reasonable prices.

Sweet wines

There is no uniform picture of South Tyrolean sweet wines, because each winery has its own ideas and requirements. But what is made is really classy. Most of these wines are labelled as passito, which means they are made from dried grapes, and in addition to their complexity, they have great ageing potential. Ten, twenty, maybe even thirty years are certainly no problem for the growths of H. Lun (Goldmuskateller 2007), the wineries of Bolzano (Goldmuskateller 'Vinalia' 2008), Kurtatsch (Rosenmuskateller 2008 and 'Amrita' 2008), Girlan (Passithea 2008), the Erste + Neuen ('Anthos' 2007) and the Landesweingut Laimburg (Goldmuskateller Passito 2005).

In 2010 South Tyrol once again confirms its reputation as the region in Italy with the greatest concentration of wineries working at an exceptionally high level. At almost all the wineries that sent in samples, one can find one and often several wines rated 'excellent', i.e. according to the Wein-Plus definition "top wines of select quality that deserve the attention of every discerning wine drinker." And the rest are almost exclusively rated 'very good', i.e. as "pure, harmonious, in the best case typical wine with recognisable character". You can do little wrong when buying wine in South Tyrol, because apart from the quality, except for a few overambitious selections, the price is almost always right.

All pictures Source/Copyright: EOS-Export Organisation of the Bolzano Chamber of Commerce

All wines rated "excellent" or better and their producers:

Arunda Sparkling Wine Cellars - Vivaldi Talento Riserva Extra Brut 2005, Talento Brut Rosé, Talento Brut
Baron di Pauli Kalterersee Classico 'Kalkofen' 2008, Arzio 2006, Traminer Exilissi 2007
Bessererhof - Otmar Mair Gold Muscat 2009, Pinot Blanc 2009, Chardonnay Riserva 2007
Winery & Vineyards Josef Brigl Sankt Magdalener 'Rielerhof' 2009, Pinot Noir Riserva 'Kreuzbichler' 2007, Lagrein Riserva 2006
Brunnenhof -Mazzon Gewürztraminer 2009
Ferruccio Carlotto Lagrein 'Di Ora in Ora' 2008
Winery Castel Sallegg - Georg Count Kuenburg Gewürztraminer 2009, Kalterersee Auslese 'Bischofsleiten' 2009, Merlot Riserva 2007, Pinot Nero Riserva 2006, Moscato Giallo 2009, Lagrein Riserva 2007
Winery Castelfeder Pinot Nero Riserva 'Borgum Novum' 2007, Lagrein 'Borgum Novum' 2006
Peter Dipoli Sauvignon 'Voglar' 2008, 'Iugum' 2006, Merlot 'Fihl' 2006, Merlot 'Fihl' 2004 (tasting)
Winery Egger - Ramer Lagrein Riserva 'Gries' 2007
Valle Isarco Winery Eisacktaler Veltliner 'Aristos' 2009, Eisacktaler Sylvaner 'Aristos' 2008, Eisacktaler Sylvaner 2009, Eisacktaler Pinot Grigio 2009, Eisacktaler Müller-Thurgau 'Aristos' 2008
First + New Pinot Blanc 'Prunar' 2009, Sauvignon. Puntay 2009, Anthos Passito2007, Lagrein Riserva 'Puntay' 2007, Chardonnay 'Salt' 2009, Sauvignon 'Puntay' 2008 (re-tasted)
Winery Garlider Eisacktaler Veltliner 2009, Eisacktaler Sylvaner 2009,Eisacktaler Müller-Thurgau 2009, Eisacktaler Pinot Grigio 2009, Blauburgunder 2008, Eisacktaler Veltliner 2007(re-tasting)
Winery Glögglhof - Franz Gojer St. Magdalener 'Rondell' 2009, Lagrein 2009
Griesbauerhof - Georg Mumelter Lagrein Riserva 2007
Gumphof - Markus Prackwieser Gewürztraminer 'Praesulis' 2009, Sauvignon 'Praesulis' 2008
Maso Happacherhof Chardonnay 2009, Lagrein Riserva 2008, Riserva 'Rubin' 2007, Merlot 2008, Chardonnay Passito 'Aurum' 2008
Haderburg Winery Eisacktaler Kerner 'Obermairlhof' 2009, Eisacktaler Riesling 'Obermairlhof' 2009, Eisacktaler Sylvaner 2009, Cuvée 'Obermairlhof' 2007, Pas Dosé 2006
Bolzano Winery Pinot Blanc 2009r, Classic St. Magdalener 2009, Valle Isarco Müller-Thurgau 2009, St. Magdalener Classico 09, Gold Muscat Vinalia 07, Gold Muscat Vinalia 2009, Lagrein Riserva 'Prestige Linie-Grieser' 2007, Lagrein Riserva 'Prestige Linie Grieser' 2008, Merlot Riserva 'Siebeneich' 2007, Lagrein Riserva. 'Taber' 2007, Pinot Nero Riserva 2007, 'Mauritius' 2007, 'Mauritius' 2008
Girlan Winery Pinot Bianco 'Plattenriegel' 2009, Riserva Bianca 2008, Sauvignon 'Indra' 2009, 'Laurin' 2007, Riserva Rossa 2007, Pinot Noir 'Patricia' 2008, Pinot Noir Rierva. Trattmann' 2007, Vernatsch Fass Nr. 9 2009, Vernatsch,Gschleier 2008, Lagrein Riserva 'SelectArt' 2008, Chardonnay 'Flora' 2008, Rosenmuskateller 'Passithea Rosa' 2008
Winery Kaltern Lagrein 'Spigel' 2008, Merlot 'Lason 2008', Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva 'Campaner' 2007, Gewürztraminer 2009, Gewürztraminer 'Solos' 09, Gewürztraminer 'Campaner' 2009, Sauvignon 'Premstaler' 2009, Pinot Blanc 'Vial' 2009, 'Solos' white 2009
Kurtatsch Winery Müller-Thurgau 'Graun` 2009, Amrita 2008 'Soma' 2007, Pinot Grigio 'Penoner' 2009, Merlot Riserva 'Brenntal' 2007, Cabernet Riserva. 'Kirchhügel' 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon 'Freienfeld' 2007, Grauvernatsch 'Sonntaler' 2009, Lagrein 'Frauriegl' 2007, Chardonnay 'Pichl' 2009, Gewürztraminer 2009, Gewürztraminer 'Brenntal' 2008, Gewürztraminer 'Brenntal' 2009, Rosenmuskateller 'Rajas' 2008, White wine 'Freienfeld' 2008, Sauvignon 'Fohrhof' 2007 (re-tasting), 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon 'Freienfeld' 2006 (re-tasting)
Merano Winery - Burggräfler Pinot Noir Riserva 'Zeno' 2007
Winery Nals - Margreid Pinot Bianco 'Sirmian' 2009, Gewürztraminer 'Baron Salvadori' 2008, Baron Salvadori 'Anticus' 2007, Vernatsch 'Galea' 2009, Lagrein Riserva 'Baron Salvadori' 2007, Chardonnay 'Baron Salvadori' 2008
Winery St. Pauls Sauvignon Exclusiv 'Gfillhof' 2009, Vernatsch 'Sarner Hof'2009
Winery Tramin Pinot Bianco 2009, Pinot Grigio 2009, Pinot Bianco 'Moritz' 2009, Stoan 09, 'Rungg' 2008, 'Loam' 07, Pinot Grigio 'Unterebner' 2009, Gewürztraminer 2009, Gewürztraminer 'Nussbaumer' 09, 'Roan' 08, Pinot Nero 'Maglen' 2007, Vernatsch 'Freisinger' 2009, Lagrein 'Urban' 2009, Sauvignon 'Montan' 200, Pinot Blanc 'Tauris' 07 (retasted)
Kettmeir Sauvignon 2009, Müller-Thurgau 'Athesis' 2009, Spumante Talento Rosé 'Athesis', Spumante Talento 'Athesis', Lagrein Ris. 'Athesis' 2006, Chardonnay 'Maso Reiner' 2008
Winery Armin Kobler Gewürztraminer 'Feld' 2008
Kuenhof - Peter Pliger Eisacktaler Riesling 'Kaiton' 2009, Eisacktaler Veltliner 2009, Eisacktaler Sylvaner 2009
Landesgut Winery Laimburg Sauvignon 2009, Ruländer 2008, Ruländer 2009, Weißburgunder 2009, Rosenmuskateller 2005, 'Sass Roà' 2005, 'Col de Réy' 2005, Goldmuskateller 2008, Riesling 2007, Merlot 2006
Winery H. Lentsch Muscat 2008, Muscat 2009, Lagrein Riserva 'Morus' 2006, Palestina 2005
Winery Klaus Lentsch - Weinhof Hemberg Gewürztraminer 'Fuchslahn' 2009
Loacker Tenute Sylvaner 'Ysac' 2009, Gewürztraminer 'Atagis' 2009, Merlot 'Ywain' 2007, Lagrein 'Gran Lareyn' 2007, Chardonnay 'Ayeton' 2008, Kastlet 2006
Winery H. Lun St. Magdalener 2009, Rose Muscat 2009, Chardonnay 2009, Gold Muscat Passito 2007
Winery & Vineyards R. Malojer - Gummerhof Cabernet Riserva 2007
Winery K. Martini & Son Sauvignon 'Palladium' 2009, Lagrein Rosé 'Grieser' 2009, Lagrein Riserva. 'Maturum' 2008, Chardonnay 'Palladium' 2009, Chardonnay 'Maturum' 2009, Lagrein Riserva. 'Maturum' 2007 (post-tasting)
Lorenz Martini Comitissa Brut Riserva 2005
Josefus Mayr - Erbhof Unterganzner Lagrein Kretzer 2009, St. Magdalener 'Pignater' 2008, Cabernet Riserva 'Kampill. 07, Chardonnay 'Platt & Pignat' 2009
Winery Milla - Gert Pomella centa' 2006, 'milla' 2007
Messnerhof Terlaner Sauvignon 2009, St. Magdalener 2009
Winery Josef Niedermayr Sauvignon Naun 2009, 'Euforius'2007, Pinot Noir 'Precios' 2007, Pinot Noir Riserva 2007
Winery Niklas Pinot Blanc 2009, Sauvignon 2009, Riserva 'Mondevinum' 2007
Prälatenhof - Roland Rohregger Kalterersee Classico Superiore 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva 2007
Ritterhof - Winery and cellar Crescendo 'Perlhofer' 2008, Cabernet/Merlot Riserva 'Crescendo' 2006, Pinot Noir 'Crescendo' 2007, Pinot Grigio 'Crescendo' 2008 (post-tasting)
Schmid - Oberrautner Lagrein Riserva 'Grieser' 2007
Peter Sölva & Sons Sauvignon 'De Silva' 2009, 'Edizione Amistar' 2007
Strickerhof Lagrein 2008
Winery Strasserhof Valle Isarco Müller-Thurgau 2009
Thurnhof - Andreas Berger Sauvignon '800' 2009, Riserva 'Weinegg' 2006
Winery Unterhofer Vernatsch 'Campenn' 2009, Chardonnay 2009
Unterortl Winery - Aurich Family Glimmer' 2009, Vinschgau Müller-Thurgau 2009, Vinschgau Riesling 2009, 'Gneis' 2009
Winery Josef Weger Gewürztraminer 'Maso delle Rose' 2009
Zöhlhof - Josef Unterfrauner Aurum' 2009

Related Magazine Articles

View All