Far From The Shallow

Let’s play a game. Close your eyes and imagine your favorite Italian winemaking region. Next, conjure up images of its beautiful landscapes, vineyards, and signature architecture. Finally, remember how wonderfully the wine reflects its terroir and expresses the true characteristics of the land. Now, open your eyes and tell me was it Alto Adige? No, then let me tell you about this spectacularly grand alpine province which includes parts of the Dolomites and is also known as South Tyrol. This enchanting Italian wine region is nestled between Switzerland to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria to the east.

 Alto Adige is home to Elena Walch wine estate. The Elena Walch wine estate is among the elite of Italian

The Walch’s ( L. to R.) Julia, Karoline, and Elena.   Photo Credit: Elena Walch

wine producers and has been the standard-bearer for quality and innovation under the guidance of Elena Walch and now her daughters Julia and Karoline. The estate’s philosophy toward winemaking has always been defined by its dedication to the land and terroir. Elena Walch wines are a direct expression of their soil, climate, and care in the vineyard. The disciplines of sustainability and care for the land are strictly adhered to and passed down to future generations. Julia and Karoline Walch have steadily advanced and evolved the viewpoint of their mother since taking over as General Managers of the estate in 2015. 

I recently had the opportunity to ask Karoline Walch about how they are carrying on that commitment to excellence and how you can taste it in their wines.

Elena Walch wines have always been faithful to the ideology of respecting the land and the environment so your wines are a direct reflection of the terroir. How do you see your commitment to that principle manifest itself in your wines?

Since the beginning, my mother wanted to produce wines that are a true reflection of a single site. Our two most important single vineyards are the Vigna Castel Ringberg and the Vigna Kastelaz, both very distinct and unique sites. With a combination of limestone soils and its microclimate given the lake influence, the vineyard Vigna Castel Ringberg is farmed sustainably to best adapt to the characteristics of the site. It is finally the salinity and depth that distinguishes it from many other wines within that category. The Vigna Kastelaz, on the other hand, is one of the very few vineyards facing completely South, and hence, benefitting from very sunny and dry growing conditions. Not only, it is extremely steep and due to its proximity to the Mendola mountain ridge, the temperature fluctuations are huge. This allows us to develop the primary aromas to the full spectrum, yet retaining the acidity. Not surprisingly, this is our icon site for Gewürztraminer. Finally, to further highlight the importance of those two vineyards, since 2014 our wines that grow on those two sites, carry the prestigious denomination of Vigna –  It is an additional mention of a smaller geographical origin and designs the smallest historical/geographical unit of a vineyard. Every single Vigna must be officially admitted and registered within the regional government. It expresses the ultimate thought of terroir philosophy with the idea of a parcel wine from an exact plot and hence having a historical or traditional name.

How does your state-of-the-art fermentation cellar help you in accentuating all the unique terroirs of your diverse vineyard sites?

Our estate’s philosophy is inherently connected to terroir – the idea that the wines are an individual expression of the vineyard’s soil, climate, and cultivation. We start with quality in the vineyard, but the way the grapes are handled at the winery is an important step in how the finished wine expresses its sense of place. Our new, high-tech cellar allows us to be flexible and adjust to the requirements of both single vineyards and individual varieties. 

With the new cellar, there are three important changes: the option between whole-berry or whole-bunch fermentation; the strict use of gravity to process the grapes as gently as possible; and four different points of quality control before the grapes reach the fermentation tanks. The aim is to create wines that have more structure, more fruit, and soft, supple tannins with great aging potential while being more elegant and refined at the same time. KW

Elena Walch set sail into uncharted waters when she built her winery on the idea of producing the highest quality wines that are terroir-driven and sustainably grown. Her daughters, Julia and Karoline, are continuing the journey she started but are always adding their own contemporary interpretation to their winemaking.

We can talk about how Elena Walch wines express their terroir and how producing wine sustainably can be tasted and experienced in a tangible way but it is impossible to truly understand what Elena Walch wines are like without tasting them for yourself. I feel quite confident that after reading Karoline Walch’s perspective on how she approaches making wine that you have a desire to taste her wine just to see for yourself why it is so special. The only question that remains is which one to try first. Luckily for us, Elena Walch wines are superior wines so you can’t make a mistake. Since Alto Adige is the northernmost region in Italy the Germanic grape varieties tend to be prevalent but that is to be expected since it is so close to Germany that 70% of its population speak German while only 25% speak Italian. Elena Walch is known for its white wine, which includes their popular Gewürztraminer and “Beyond The Clouds” but their reds are also top-notch.

When I explore a wine region I am always curious about the wine made from its indigenous grape varieties. When I looked at Alto Adige, Schiava caught my eye. Schiava is an indigenous grape varietal often associated with the region. Schiava typically produces an aromatic light but acidic red wine that is highly versatile when it comes to food pairings. Elena Walch Schiava is a solid choice because it ranks high in quality and taste for this varietal. Elena Walch Schiava 2019 has a cranberry color, mild tannins, and bright acidity with flavors of red fruit and Schiava’s signature tinge of bitter almond on the finish. It is best when served between 60-65ͦ F/16-18ͦ C. This wine pairs well with Mediterranean fare and pasta. 

Elena Walch wine estate is only one of the extraordinary wineries in the Alto Adige region of Italy that are

eager to share their enchanting culture and remarkable wines with you.  

Photo Credit: Elena Walch

Bohemian Rhapsody

If you like Sauvignon Blanc but sometimes want a wine with a little more body and complexity then you should try Grüner Veltliner. Grüner Veltliner is the signature grape of Austria and has evolved almost entirely as the result of natural hybridization over time in the region. It is a white Vitis vinifera grape also called Grûner Mushateller but is better known by the colloquial name “Grūner”. Grüner Veltliner is a versatile grape that can be made into a wide variety of wines ranging from light and easy-drinking to rich and packed with varietal character. Grüner vines have medium-sized leaves with 5-7 lobes. It’s grape clusters are medium to very large conical clusters of medium density with round or oval greenish-yellow berries. These vines have adapted perfectly to the wet mineral-rich loess and loam soils of the lower vineyard sites near the Danube River. The lots higher up the hill are planted with Riesling. The rocky soils of these sites force the Riesling to struggle to survive but result in a wine that has concentrated flavors and complex taste profile. This farming practice utilizes the attributes of the land and yields the best grapes possible from the prevailing conditions. Although the largest plantings of Grüne Veltliner are in Austria and surrounding countries it has been dispersed throughout many of the wine regions of the world. While most Austrian Grüners are dry, full-bodied and acidic with flavors of citrus fruit, spice, and white pepper you can easily find others that are weightier with a more structured body that requires years to reach maturity in the bottle.

If you haven’t tasted Grüne Veltliner and you’re curious about where to start I would suggest trying a few from Austria first then expand your search to

The United States and Italy to find good Grūner at very reasonable prices. Here are a

South Shore Wine Company Gruner Veltliner 2015

Gruner Veltliner 2018 Photo Courtesy: Fero Vineyards & Winery

few to get you started on your journey.

AUSTRIA: Singing Grūner Veltliner 2017 Niederösterreich, Austria or Domane Krems Grüner Veltliner 2018 Kremstal, Austria 

ITALY: Eisacktaler Kellerei Cantina Valle Isarco Grüner Veltliner 2018 Alto Adige, Italy

 

The United States of America: Grüner Veltliner Fero Vineyards & Winery

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania,  Grûner Veltliner South Shore Wine Company North East, Pennsylvania or Grüner Veltliner Hosmer Winery Ovid, New York (FLX)

Hosmer Estate Winery 2017 Gruner Veltliner

 

Narcisi Winery Hosts Regional Wine Dinner

Photo Courtesy: Narcisi Winery

Photo Courtesy: Narcisi Winery

     Narcisi Winery will host a Regional Wine Dinner featuring the wine and cuisine of the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy.  The event will be held at the winery at 4578 Gibsonia Rd. Gibsonia, Pa beginning at 6:30 pm on March 27, 2014. The cost is $55 per person and reservations can be made by calling 412-444-4744.  I have included the menu for the dinner, click the link to view.  TRENTINO+2+Main+Menu    www.narcisiwinery.com

Campo Maccione Morellino di Scansano 2008

Campo Maccione Morellino di Scansano 2008

Campo Maccione Morellino di Scansano 2008

This is a hidden gem that comes from the southwestern Tuscan town of Scansano.  Morellino is the name for Sangiovese in Scansano but no matter what you call this red blend the one thing you will be calling it is delicious.  Rocca delle Macìe produces this solid but modestly priced red blend that is softer and rounder than the wines from Chianti because the Zingarelli family vineyards are located further south in a more moderate climate that is warmer and drier.  Best described as fruity and finely balanced this medium bodied offering has a nice finish that can be paired with a diverse menu.  Pasta, pizza, roasted or grilled meats and aged cheeses are just some of the pairings that this food friendly wine can be served with to showcase its best qualities. When you  start with a price that is easy on the wallet then add a taste profile that is easy on the palate what you will certainly end up with is a sure winner like Campo Maccione Morellino di Scansano 2008

Bidding is Now Open!

All Materials Courtesy of Morrell & Company Fine Wine Auction

All Materials Courtesy of Morrell & Company Fine Wine Auction

    Have you ever wanted to bid on a great bottle of wine offered at a wine auction but could not stand the thought of sitting in a room filled with wine snobs while holding a little paddle with a number on it.  If your answer is yes then you are in luck because Morrell & Company Fine Wine Auction is conducting an internet only auction on Wednesday February 27th at 10:30 a.m.(EST) on their website www.morrellwineauctions.com.   Bids may only be placed by absentee bid and live bid.  Absentee bids may be placed now and the live bidding will be available online at the commencement of the auction.  To participate go to the website and register, peruse the catalog of offerings then place a bid if you find something you like.  If you intend to bid live, Morrell recommends using their Live Bidding Simulator to check your computers compatibility to prevent any issues when live bidding starts.  Need more information? Call 212-307-4200 

Viva Italia!

Italian sparkling wine

Italian sparkling wine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prosecco is often mistakenly called Italian Champagne but that isn’t a bad comparison. This sparkling wine is made from the Prosecco grape the oldest cultivated grape in Italy. Mionette Prosecco D.O.C. Treviso Brut has received a 89 point rating from the Wine Enthusiast. This wine has a 11% alcohol content and a R.S. of .9. Pop the cork and pour a glass to enjoy the pale straw color with your eyes, lift it to your nose to smell the fruity aroma of pear and citrus then finally taste the golden apple and peach with the light body and dry finish. This wine should be enjoyed fresh and certainly be consumed within 3 months of purchase. Serve with appetizers and mild cheeses but another use is as an excellent base for a Bellini and other sparkling wine cocktails.

     Calling Prosecco Italian Champagne is meaningful for me because Champagne is associated with memorable events and that is the case for me. My lovely wife and I have celebrated our wedding anniversary twice at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Both times we had dinner at Osteria del Circo where the staff lined up to greet and congratulate us upon our arrival. Circo is a Tuscan styled restaurant that boasts a wine list of 900 selections from all over the world. We were led to our table that looked out onto the lake and it famous dancing waters. She ordered Prosecco to complement her Mediterranean Sea Bass. I can still see the thin strings of bubbles rising in her glass as she enjoyed the evenings celebration. Where we will be celebrating this year is still unplanned but I hope you will make great memories in your life that include great wine.

Red Red Wine!

     I would like to tell you about a wine that I have always kept in my wine rack, while others have come and gone this one has never disappointed. The wine is Cantina Zaccanini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This wine is a Proprietary Blend Dry Red that has an alcohol content of 12.5% to 13% depending on the vintage. The first thing you will notice is the beautiful dark ruby-red color with a touch of violet. The nose is one of ripe red berries and the taste is that of dark fruit and well-balanced tannins that gives way to a dry oak finish. This wine is made from Montepulicano d’Abruzzo grapes that are pressed and fermented with their skins on in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. It is then aged in oak barrels for 6 months then left to bottle refine for an additional 3 months. Bottles are released for sale 2 years after harvest and can be cellared to bottle refine for 3 or more years. This selection is a good match for dishes with a hearty Italian red sauce and entrée’s of roasted meats. You don’t have to remember that long name just look for the bottle with the little grape-vine clipping tied to it and you will have found one of my favorite reds. Item number 4560 and $14.99 at PA LCB stores.