Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Trentino-Alto Adige Region
The Trentino-Alto Adige Wine Region
Main Article Contents
- 1 The territory of Trentino Alto Adige
- 2 The history of viticulture in South Tyrol
- 3 The grape varieties in Trentino Alto Adige
- 4 The wine in Trentino Alto Adige
- 5 The regional cuisine of the Trentino-Alto Adige
The territory of Trentino Alto Adige
Trentino-Alto Adige is a wholly mountainous region of 14,000 square kilometers. Its two autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano mark both a linguistic and administrative differentiation, we can refer to Trentino on one side and Alto Adige (South-Tyrol) on the other. Although geographically speaking it could be difficult to draw a morphological boundary between the two areas, ethnic and linguistic as well as soil and climate differences have also led, over the centuries, to such a characterization on a provincial basis als talking about wine production. Both areas have in common an excellent wine production, thanks to the favorable geographical and climatic conditions both along the Adige valley, on the mountain slopes, and in the plains and hilly areas around the towns Trento and Bolzano. The qualitative level of the wines of the region is very high, especially for those whose grapes are suitable for cold areas, such as Sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir. Despite in Trentino-Alto Adige many international varieties are cultivated, the region is also shows an interesting heritage of indigenous grapes, such as Teroldego, Schiava and Lagrein.
The history of viticulture in South Tyrol
Trentino is the area on either side of the Adige Valley from Rovereto to Salorno and has a vineyard surface of about 9000 hectares. Alto Adige has rather less than 5000 hectares of vineyards, all in mountain and mountainsides areas. As in the north of Verona province and in Valpolicella, the more widespread training form for vines throughout the region is the Pergola, double on plain areas and simple on the mountains.
The viticulture in this region experienced the first important period of development at the time of ancient Rome, but the first signes of viticulture dates back to the Etruscans. With the barbarian ravages the viticulture experienced a stillstand and it was thanks to the work of the monks, particularly the Benedictines, that the cultivation of vine could restart a few centuries later. Already at that time in Trentino-Alto Adige grapes varieties as Lagrein, Schiava (Vernatsch) and Gewürztraminer were cultivated, along with other native varieties that have by now disappered. During the Hapsburg domination the production of wine in the Trentino-Alto Adige experienced a new commercial impetus and the wines of this remarkable region gained their fame beyond the borders of Italy. Under the Austrian domination the wine growers’ cooperatives gained importance, so nowadays they have an history and tradition of quality as in no other region of the Peninsula. The arrival of phylloxera in the early ‘900 created far less damage comapred to what occurred with the collapse of the regiona at the end of the First World War, when both Trentino and Alto Adige were annexed to Italy. Only at the end of World War II there were the first signs of recovery of the wine production in Trentino-Alto Adige, although the real recovery came in the early 1980s with the adoption of strict quality criteria. Today the strong commitment of the wine producers makes Trentino-Alto Adige one of the best wine areas in Italy, both for the production of white and red wines, as weel as for traditional method sparkling wines.
The grape varieties in Trentino Alto Adige
In Trentino the three indigenous grape varieties with black berry are the Marzemino, whose area is located just south of Trento (Isera and Seresi), the Teroldego on the Rotaliana plain, north of Trento, and the Schiava (in variants Schiava grigia, Schiava grossa and Schiava gentile), more to the provincial border with South-Tyrol. The area at the border with the province of Verona is characterized by the Enantio named also Lambrusco a foglia frastagliata (jagged leaf). In the area of Trento also Pinot gris, Pinot Noir and Cabernet are diffused. The most important white grape varieties are the international ones (Chardonnay and Pinot blanc), which together with Pinot Noir are used for the production of sparkling wines with the traditional method (Trento DOC appellation).
In Alto Adige (South-Tyrol) among the native grapes with black berry the most important are the Schiava (here named Vernatsch), but also Lagrein. Among the international varieties stands the Pinot Noir, which found in the Egna-Ora (Neumarkt-Auer) one of the best growing areas. Among the white grapes in the same area the Gewürztraminer, originally coming precisely from Termeno (Tramin). Kerner and Sylvaner are diffused north of Bolzano, in the Val d’Isarco and Val Venosta. Diffused are also the Moscato rosa and Moscato giallo (Rosenmuskateller and Goldmuskateller) the first in the form of raisin wines with considerable structure, the second very fresh and pleasant especially in the dry version. Terlano area is characterized by porfidic stone formations which give the wines a pleasant minerality in addition to a noticeable longevity.
The wine in Trentino Alto Adige
In Trentino the most produced red wines are the Teroldego and the Marzemino. The denomination Trento DOC is dedicated to sparkling wines produced with the classic method, made from Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes, with a minimum time on the lees of 15 months (24 months for vintages). The sparkling wines that remain for at least 36 monthson the lees are classified as riserva. The Campo Rotaliano, a plain located to the north of Trento, is characterized by the cultivation of Teroldego, one of the most interesting red grapes of the region (Teroldego Rotaliano DOC). The Nosiola is the most famous and interesting autochthonous white grape of Trentino. In the Valle dei Laghi (Valley of the Lakes) interesting dry wines and the famous Vino Santo raisin wine are produced with this variety. The Nosiola grapes are left to wilt after harvest until Easter, allowing the berries to be partially attacked by Botrytis cinerea. The must is then fermented in small casks of wood and left to mature for four years, creating a sweet full-bodied, rich and pleasant wine.
Alto Adige (South Tyrol)
Alto Adige has a very interesting and varied wine production, characterized by both international and native grape varieties. The cool climate and special environmental and geological conditions make the white wines of Alto Adige among the best in Italy. The red wines, particularly those produced with Lagrein and the Pinot Noir, also boast outstanding results. Rarely white wines are aged or fermented in wood, to safeguard the fresh character and the fruity characteristics of white wines from Alto Adige. Even when the producer chooses the ageing in casks or barrels, the wines are always characterized by a pleasant and refreshing acidity. Lagrein is a very versatile red grape variety, with which both pleasant rosé wines (Lagrein Kretzer) and red wines of considerable structure and longevity, better known as Lagrein Dunkel (dark) are made. It is also often combined with international varieties as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with excellent results. The Schiava (Vernatsch) gives its most famous wines in the subarea Santa Maddalena of the Alto Adige DOC. Among the desserts wines the ones produced with grapes Moscato Giallo (Goldenmuskateller) and Moscato Rosa (Rosenmuskateller), with its unmistakable strawberry and rose aromas.
The appellations of origin of Trentino-Alto Adige
In Trentino the most important appellation are the Trentino DOC and Trento DOC, the latter dedicated to sparkling wine produced with the classical method. In the Rotaliana plain north of Trento there are the Teroldego Rotaliano DOC and Valdadige DOC, further down towards the province of Verona is the Valdadige Terra dei Forti DOC. The Alto Adige DOC is the only one in the province of Bolzano and is divided into sub-zones characterized by diverses soil and climate conditions: Colli di Bolzano (Bozner Leiten), Meranese di Collina o Meranese (Meraner or Meraner Hügel), Santa Maddalena (St. Magdalener), Terlano (Terlan), Val Venosta (Vinschgau), Valle Isarco (Eisacktaler). Among the 4 food and agricultural PDO appellations in the region to be highlighted are the cheese Spressa Giudicarie DOP (Trentino) and Stelvio or Stilfser DOP(South Tyrol).
The regional cuisine of the Trentino-Alto Adige
The two provinces that make up the Trentino-Alto Adige region, although divided from a linguistic point of view, have much in common in terms of traditions and culture, food and wine. The cuisine of the Trentino-Alto Adige is based essentially on three foods found as protagonists in the most traditional dishes: apples, bacon and polenta (the latter only in the province of Trento). The polenta is prepared with mixtures of different flours according to the area of origin: in the Valle di Non (Non Valley), for example, it is prepared with yellow maize flour mixed with buckwheat flour, while in the Garda area with white flour and potatoes. The black polenta is made from buckwheat. Many traditional dishes are based on German and Austrian cuisine such as dumplings and cabbage (Sauerkraut). Mushrooms are also an ingredient which occurs in many traditional dishes, because of their abundance in the woods of the region. The fish, of which the countless rivers and streams are rich, inspires recipes such as trout “alla Trentina“, fried and seasoned with lemon sauce, mint and raisins. The mountain environment brings traditional recipes made with wild game such as hare, seasoned with bacon, onion, pine nuts, raisins, lemon peel, cinnamon and butter and venison, with various recipes including the famous stew.
Trentino-Alto Adige produces many cheese verieties, such as the Algunder, both sweet or spicy, the Vinschger Almkäse, the Toblach, the Asiago DOP and the Vezzena in the province of Trento. Among the cold cuts the Speck Alto Adige PGI, produced in the province of Bolzano. The Trentino Alto Adige has a very important production of fruits, especially apples (Mela dell’Atlo Adige IGP), the Susina di Dro PDO (Plum), strawberries and raspberries, broccoli of Torbole and corn from Storo.
The regional cuisine of the Trentino-Alto Adige is also famous for its desserts, as the strudel, pasta stuffed pastry with apples, raisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, browned in butter and scented with cinnamon, the Zelten, a typical Christmas cake with dates, dried figs, raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon, brandy and cognac mixed in pasta of bread of rye, the Meraner Krapfen with jam, cream or with poppy seeds, the Tyrolean plum cake and the rhubarb cake.
The Wine Appellations of the Trentino-Alto Adige Region