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Alto Adige: Key white grapes

The white wines of Alto Adige is where it’s at, and there are a core group of six grape varieties that really do the work.

In the video I mention “minerality” quite a bit as a taste. Here’s a fantastic article that tries to explain what minerality is all about.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige tends to show higher overall quality and more acidity that many other Pinot Grigio on the shelf. This is because of the alpine climate along with the precise winemaking of the region.

Winesearcher: Pinot Grigio

Chicago Tribune: Why your Pinot Grigio should come from Italy’s Alto Adige region

Pinot Bianco (Weissburgunder in German, Pinot Blanc in French)

My favorite go-to grape of the region. Pinot Bianco is naturally higher in acidity (and I’m an acid freak so that’s what I like), great with food, and when made by the right producer, age-worthy. As you go up in price in Alto Adige Pinot Bianco, you get closer to single vineyard production and often run into some oak being used.

Winesearcher: Pinot Bianco

Wine Enthusiast: The Rise of Pinot Bianco in Northern Italy

Chardonnay

The thing to keep in mind with Chardonnay from Alto Adige is that wines from this area are well known for precise, detailed flavors. Rarely will you find a Chardonnay with too much oak (though oak does get used), or a wine that is at all ‘flabby’ or low in acidity. These are outstanding Chardonnays and one to serve to friends that are cynical about that grape.

Winesearcher: Chardonnay

Alto Adige Wines: Chardonnay (with some statistics)

Gewürztraminer

One of my favorites! A “Gewurz” made by a great producer in a great region is one of the best reasons to be a wine drinker! Often a combination of spicy aromas combined with ripe apple, with layers of flavor and big personalities. I love these wines. Ideal for Thanksgiving or Easter dinner as well.

Winesearcher: Gewürztraminer (which includes the interesting history of the grape)

Wine Spectator: Mining Gewürztraminer for Greatness (and interview with one of my favorite winemakers in all of Alto Adige)

Müller-Thurgau

Not well known to Americans, this is a popular grape in the Alto Adige and plays in the same sandbox as Gewürztraminer, with spicy, complex, and forward aromatics. It doesn’t have a history of top level production (the Winesearcher description says “Few wine experts have kind things to say about Müller-Thurgau, and the variety is consistently blamed for producing the bland, off-dry style of white wine that dominated Germany until the 1980s.”), but things are different in Alto Adige, where precise and top quality winemaking do the variety justice.

Winesearcher: Müller-Thurgau

Alto Adige Wines: Müller-Thurgau (with statistics)

Sauvignon Blanc

Often labeled in Alto Adige as simply “Sauvignon,” these are outstanding wines that you’ll rarely find in American wine shops, due to competition with New Zealand. When visiting Alto Adige, seek out these gems!

Winesearcher: Sauvignon Blanc

StarChefs: What and Where on the Wine List – Sauvignon Blancs of Alto Adige