Lagrein, one of the thousands of grapes found in Italy, was introduced to me recently by TerraVino’s owner Chris when I was looking for something new and different to check out. Lagrein comes from the area north of Trentino tucked way up by Switzerland and Austria.
This region is called Südtirol by the local German speaking population, from the days when the region belonged to the Austrian territory of Tyrol. Most wines from the region will have both Italian and German on their labels.
The region has about 5000 winemakers and is close to a third the size of Napa Valley. This is an ancient winegrowing region – when the Romans came here in 15 BC, they found wine being stored in wood containers. Does anyone know what this dragon represents?
Alto Adige fun facts:
- Lagrein, schiava, and gewurztraminer are indigenous to the area.
- Wine cooperatives produce about 70% of the area’s wines.
- Only 5% of Alto Adige’s wines are exported to the US.
- Lagrein is planted on about 1000 acres in the region (~ 8%).
- There are more than 300 sunny days a year.
- The region contributes about 1% of Italy’s total wine production.
I tried the 2009 Georg Mumelter Griesbauerhof Lagrein. Sold for less than $20 and clocking in at 13.5% ABV. Lagrein does not make a pale wine – instead these wines are dark, deep purple.
The Mumelter was incredibly aromatic. No need to get your nose deep down into the glass before the smoky scent hits you. Below the smoke, you can smell dark fruit and a spicy floral note that’s hard to identify (for me anyway).
On the palate, there were cedar notes and the wine was lighter in flavor than the nose or color leads you to believe. With a good acid structure this wine had a medium finish. Strangely, it had an almost salty taste.
I’m not sure if this is normal for Lagrein or not – I will have to try another one to see. If you’re looking to increase your knowledge of Italian grapes, grab a bottle of Lagrein! For under $20, you really can’t go wrong.
And if you know what the dragon on the neck of the bottle represents, please let me know!