Wine Tradition of Italy’s Alto Adige
The Alto Adige region of Italy—located in the northeast corner of the country, on the border with Austria and Switzerland—produces wine, unlike any other region in Italy. Because of its unique terrain, it is one of the few global regions that enjoy the combination of cooler temperatures and more direct sunlight required to grow white wine grape varieties (such as Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay) while also growing red wine grapes (such as Pinot noir and Merlot). If you want to learn more about the Alto Adige wine traditions, this brief guide will tell you everything you need to know about this incredible Italian region.
The New Italian Wine Region
Traditionally, people have been gravitating towards Italian wines produced in Trentino-Alto Adige in recent years. The region is home to a diverse array of microclimates and terroirs, which implies that it has a fantastic variety of quality wines. Today, Alto Adige is producing a name for itself in Italy’s world-renowned wine industry and gaining international attention for its high-quality wines. With all such attention, you might be wondering: What is so special about Alto Adige? This guide will answer that question as well as provide you with some tips on how to relish their wines best.
Specific factors make the Alto Adige different from other Italian regions. Well, first and foremost is its location. Unlike all other Italian wine regions, which exist in a semicircle along either side of Naples and stretch northward toward Switzerland, Lombardy, and Austria, Alto Adige is located right up against Austria.
Consequently, this exclusive border country position has caused Alto Adige to be different from day one—and it is what makes these wines so unique today. Alto Adige—translated as High Alps—was a part of Austria until 1918, when it became part of Italy.
Later on, it became an autonomous region in 1998 and is now home to one of Italy’s most acclaimed wines. With over 200 wines awarded DOCG (the highest classification) or DOC (the second-highest classification), there is no question that Alto Adige relishes a wine destination like no other region in Italy. Indeed, many experts have regarded it as Italy’s Napa Valley—and they are right!
Wines produced in Alto Adige are known to mix Northern European logic with Southern European zing. Therefore, rich, Tuscan-style red wines, as well as delicate, Germanic white and rich wines, are graciously available to wine enthusiasts.
This contrast may be witnessed everywhere in the region, with road signs in two dialects (Italian and German). Furthermore, Alto Adige is known for its startling and aromatic dry white wines, such as Gewürztraminer and Pinot Grigio. Likewise, the red wines will also wow you. In addition, the local Schiava (Vernatsch) varieties’ tendencies may look odd, although they are similar to the world’s most recognized reds.
Italian Wine Region
Alto Adige has grown grapes and made wine for over 2,500 years in incredibly picturesque environments. With its legendary background of cloisters, luxury, and political border shifts, Alto Adige’s mix of experiences will astound you. According to old grape seeds, the Rhaetian public—which is a collection of Alpine clans said to be related to the Etruscans—established plants on the Alto Adige slope some 2,500 years ago.
The Rhaetians’ Viticultural tradition was sustained and enhanced when Alto Adige became an integral part of the entire Roman Empire. It took place in 15 BC. It is said that the wine industry in Alto Adige began to grow as a consequence of the interests of the German aristocracy and clerics. The Kloster Neustift was founded in 1140 and is still in operation today – making it one of the most experienced grape vineyards in the world.
Later on, Alto Adige became a separate entity from the Roman Empire during Charlemagne and remained so until the Empire’s demise in 1806. The wines from this region were widely distributed across the domain, ensuring their appeal in a variety of famous courts.
In 1814, Alto Adige, recently known as Südtirol, joined the Habsburg Empire, which the Austro-Hungarian Empire followed in 1867. Many varieties like Pinot Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay were brought to Alto Adige by Archduke Johann, who was indeed a Habsburg as well as a German king.
Terroir and Wine
Terroir (pronounced as “tear-wah”) is a difficult-to-pronounce French phrase that refers to a land’s ability to produce any agricultural products. Surprisingly, the type and taste of wine are greatly influenced by where and how it is produced.
The following three characteristics can partition various terroirs:
- Wine region’s environment
- Dirt’s states
- Normal winemaking strategies
Hence, these three characteristics cooperate to make sense of why a few wines from explicit regions provide an identifiable flavor.
Climate and Soil
The Alps cast a massive shadow over the Alto Adige region, resulting in almost 300 dazzling days each year. It is roughly equivalent to 1,950 hours of daylight. As a result, the average temperature in Alto Adige during the developing season is 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), making it a relatively warm wine-growing region.
Such extensive daylight helps with the advancement of ready organic product tastes in all wines and can bring about liquor levels going from 12.5% to 15%, contingent upon the wine. While the Alps safeguard Alto Adige from northern tempests, the locale, in any case, obtains sufficient downpour (32 inches/815 mm each year) to help grape development. Because of the incredible hotness in the late spring, producers utilize a trickle water system to help their plants.
The sizeable diurnal stretch in Alto Adige leads to wines with solid corrosiveness and delicate, fanciful aromas. In July, for example, the average daily temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). Around sunset time, the temperature drops to 61° F (16 degrees Celsius), which is usual. Hence, the shift is more pronounced in grapes at higher elevations.
Different grape varieties require certain soils in specific situations in order to provide excellent results. However, things are not that straightforward in this case. At Alto Adige, the structural plates of Europe and Africa collide, resulting in over 150 distinct soil types. See more resources here
On This Day
1867: Wine began to be transported in more significant quantities throughout Europe.
1893: This year, the cooperative winery was established for the first time.
1918: Alto Adige became an Italian province.
1980: This year, the quality of wines produced in this region was improved.