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With over 40 grape varieties, countless soil variations, vineyards at altitudes ranging from 200 to over 1,000 metres and correspondingly huge differences in the respective microclimates, the diversity of the South Tyrolean wine world is expectedly great. And yet the similarities between most of the wines are more striking than the differences - at least when viewed from the outside.

South Tyrol Wine/Florian Andergassen

The region is characterised by two main climatic influences: that of the mountains, which on the one hand keeps cold air masses away from the north and on the other ensures cool nights, and that of the Mediterranean south, from the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, which is responsible for an early spring and around 300 days of sunshine a year, but also brings sufficient rainfall.

The result is almost everywhere rather fruity and aromatic wines with moderate to significant alcoholic strength, largely independent of soil and variety and now also at higher altitudes or generally cooler areas such as the Venosta Valley and the Isarco Valley. This is particularly true for hot vintages such as 2022, which are unlikely to become less frequent in the future. The consequences of advancing climate change are therefore also the biggest challenge for viticulture in South Tyrol. In particular, the uncomplicated, simpler everyday wines from warm years would sometimes be better with a little less alcohol. In the higher quality levels, there is generally enough substance and expression to allow for high alcohol levels; finesse and elegance are the supreme disciplines in which the winegrowers can excel. The red wines generally cope better with the conditions than the whites, but a certain sensitivity is also helpful here.

In any case, it must still be said that the average quality in South Tyrol far exceeds that of many other wine regions. In addition, producers have long since begun to adapt to the changed conditions. This is certainly not yet the case everywhere, but it is becoming increasingly noticeable. The Lageder winery is leading the way here, producing wines that would hardly have been thought possible in South Tyrol with such low alcohol levels since switching to biodynamic farming. Even the red Löwengang, one of the estate's flagship wines, comes in at less than 12 per cent alcohol by volume. In view of such results, there is no reason to fear for viticulture in Italy's northernmost wine region.

Alto Adige Wine/Florian Andergassen

South Tyrol's wine community is also on the move elsewhere. South Tyrol is probably the only wine-growing region in the world where the co-operatives and wineries not only produce the largest quantities, but are also at least among the leaders in terms of quality. Regardless of their size, some of them have been among the best wine producers in the region for decades and enjoy a worldwide reputation. This is one of the reasons why the number of wine producers in South Tyrol that you needed to know in order to find out about the status of wine production of interest in terms of quality was quite limited for a long time. But that is now changing. Although the status of the well-known wineries and wine estates remains unchanged today, the number of ambitious small wine producers is growing so rapidly that wine lovers with a passion for South Tyrol are beginning to find it difficult to keep track.

This can only be an advantage for everyone involved. After all, it's not just the range that is growing with the new diversity. The small wineries also seem to see themselves as a playground for innovation and experimentation. New cultivation and growing methods, styles that were previously completely unknown in the region, mushroom-resistant grape varieties (Piwis), top-class sparkling wines or even just new marketing concepts: small, often still young businesses are taking on a pioneering role almost everywhere. They make the region even more varied and exciting. And in the end, the established producers also benefit from this.

We have tasted over 400 South Tyrolean wines in recent weeks, the best of which we present here. You will find links to all the tasting results at the end of each list.

(Editor's note: as this is the first time the text has also appeared in the print magazine, parts of last year's article have also been used in a revised form)

South Tyrol Sauvignon Blanc

South Tyrol Chardonnay

South Tyrol Pinot Blanc / Pinot Bianco

South Tyrol Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio

South Tyrol Gewürztraminer

South Tyrol Other white varieties