Understanding Alto Adige-Südtirol
By Ian D’Agata
Alto Adige-Südtirol is one of Italy’s most important and singular wine regions, arguably making the country’s best white wines and among its most interesting reds. Yet it remains something of a mystery to most English-speaking wine lovers. This primer offers insight into the surprising contrasts and dynamics at play in the wines of this small yet majestic, mountainous corner of northeast Italy and helps explain why the region and its wines aren’t better known by every sommelier and wine lover worthy of his or her spittoon.
The reasons for the high quality of Alto Adige’s wines are numerous. Roughly 86% of the region’s vineyards are located in mountain habitats and 14% are planted on hillsides. “Outside of a small, historic area around Bolzano, there are no flatland vineyards in the region,” according to Rudi Kofler, winemaker at Cantina Terlano/Kellerei Terlan. “So, you could say that Alto Adige has no village-level wines. We start with premier crus.”
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