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Northeast Italy - Top Producers of Trentino-Alto Adige

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Photo: The fairy-tale setting of Produttori Colterenzio, Alto Adige © Provided by DKBooks The fairy-tale setting of Produttori Colterenzio, Alto Adige

The fairy-tale setting of Produttori Colterenzio, Alto Adige

Top Producers of Trentino-Alto Adige

Abbazia di Novacella - Alto Adige/Valle Isarco

location: via Abbazia 1, Varna
telephone number: 0472 836189
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2002, 2001 (w), 2000 (r), 1999 (w), 1997
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Valle Isarco Silvaner Brixner Praepositus, Lagrein Riserva Praepositus

Monks have been making wine in this subalpine abbey since the 12th century. The Abbazia’s reputation has faltered from time to time, but the arrival of a new winemaking team in the late 1990s has brought more consistency. Alongside the classic dry and citrus-flavored Valle Isarco Silvaner, Novacella has recently impressed with the prize-winning, austere single-vineyard Lagrein Riserva Praepositus.

Alois Lageder - Alto Adige

location: Tenuta Löwengang, via dei Conti 9, Magrè
telephone number: 0471 809500
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2002, 2001 (w), 2000 (r)
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Löwengang Chardonnay, Cor Römigberg Cabernet Sauvignon, Lehenhof Terlaner Sauvignon

Both Alois Lageder and his superb wines exude a sense of real spontaneity. However, behind that lies a deep philosophy that is evident all the way from the environmentally friendly management of his vineyards to his use of solar power in the winery. Lageder sources his long list of single vineyard selections from sites that are legendary in the region for their respective varieties. Taste the concentrated cassis flavors of the Cor Römigberg Cabernet Sauvignon from the hot, south-facing slopes of Lago di Caldaro, and the flinty, dry Lehenhof Sauvignon Blanc from the high, volcanic-soil terraces of Terlano for a textbook introduction to terroir differences in Alto Adige.

Cooperative winemaking in Alto Adige

Cooperatives are generally associated with everyday drinking wine rather than exciting quality. However, in Alto Adige, where cantine produttori (the title most co-ops have adopted) handle 70 percent of the output, they make many of the best wines.

In the mid-1980s, charismatic winery directors Luis Raifer and Hans Terzer updated the unwieldy co-op system from the 19th century, making it the driving force behind modernizing the regional wine industry. Their drastic reduction of yields, rigid selection of grapes, and exclusive single vineyard bottlings took Alto Adige into the top league of Italian winemaking. A string of progressive produttori wineries have since emerged to make the co-op sector the most reliable and exciting in the region. In addition to the co-ops featured, look for those listed here.

Produttori Andriano (; Produttori Cornaiano (; Viticoltori Caldaro (; Produttori Cortaccia (; Erste e Neue (; Produttori Merano (; Cantina Valle Isarco (

Arunda - Alto Adige

location: via Civica 53, Meltina
telephone number: 0471 668033
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: sparkling
best vintages: 1999, 1997, 1995, 1993
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Spumante Arunda Brut Rosé, Spumante Arunda Extra Brut Riserva, Spumante Arunda Extra Brut Cuvée Marianna

Sepp Reiterer makes traditional bottle-refermented bubbly in the tiny Tyrolean village of Meltina, 3,900 ft (1,200 m) above sea level. He ages the wines for up to five years and believes in minimum dosage (added sugar at bottling) to preserve the authentic dry, tangy quality of the Alto Adige. The result is a range of spumante wines that are among the most interesting and long-lived in Italy.

Cantina Produttori Bolzano - Alto Adige

location: piazza Gries 2, Bolzano
telephone number: 0471 270909
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert
best vintages: red: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Lagrein Scuro Taber Riserva, Lagrein Dunkel Riserva Collection Barone Carl Eyre, Lagrein Dunkel Riserva Prestige

The Amalgamation of Bolzano’s two leading cooperatives, Cantina Gries and Produttori Santa Maddalena, means that the cream of Lagrein production from the classic Gries subzone is now under one roof. Their joint list represents the best of both the old and the new in reds. The berry-flavored Barone Carl Eyre selection is aged in big traditional barrels, while the dense, chocolaty Taber Riserva belongs to the modern, new barrique school of winemaking. Both are impeccable.

Hofstätter - Alto Adige

location: piazza Municipio 7, Termeno
telephone number: 0471 860161
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2002, 2001 (w), 1998 (w), 1997, 1995
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Pinot Nero Riserva Barthenau Vigna Sant’Urbano, Gewürztraminer Kolbenhof Soll

Not only does Hofstätter own Italy’s greatest Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) vineyard—the Vigna Sant’Urbano—but it is also the owner of one of Alto Adige’s best Gewürztraminer estates. The sublimely long-lived Pinot Nero has had a faultless track record over the past 15 years, while the rich and peppery Gewürztraminer has moved up a gear in the last two or three. Both belong to the must-try category.

Kuen Hof - Alto Adige/Valle Isarco

location: loc Mahr 110, Bressanone
telephone number: 0472 850546
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: white
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1995, 1992
recommended wines: Alto Adige Valle Isarco: Silvaner, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer

Silvaner grapes usually make light, dry, and floral wines, perfect for summer drinking. Kuen Hof owner-winemaker Peter Pliger, however, looks for another dimension in the variety. A grower of almost fanatical dedication, he works with minuscule yields, harvests late, and ages his wine in large acacia-wood barrels to make full-bodied wines with layers of fruit and aromas that are made to stand the test of time. Equally impressive are his dry, peach-flavored Gewürztraminer and his full-bodied Grüner Veltliner, made from an Austrian grape variety grown nowhere in Italy outside the Valle dell’ Isarco.

Josephus Mayr-Unterganzner - Alto Adige

location: Erbhof Unterganzner, via Campiglio 15, Cardano
telephone number: 0471 365582
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1997, 1998, 1995
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Lagrein Dunkel Riserva, Vino da Tavola Lamarein (Lagrein)

The majority of Alto Adige’s farmers make a good living by selling their grapes to the region’s 16 excellent cooperatives. So any small grower who takes on the risks involved in making and bottling his own wine needs to have guaranteed premium quality as well as something spectacular to say. Specialist Lagrein producer Josephus Mayr has both of these. In recent years he has won a strong following for his refined, berry-flavored riserva and his unique blockbuster Lamarein Vino da Tavola, which he makes in the amarone style.

Produttori Colterenzio - Alto Adige

location: strada del Vino 8, Cornaiano
telephone number: 0471 664246
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2002, 2001 (w), 2000, 1999, 1997
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Lafoa Sauvignon, Cornell Chardonnay, Cornell Pinot Nero Schwarzhaus Riserva

Colterenzio director Luis Raifer was one of the first to break down the skepticism of the outside world toward co-op wines by bringing quality here up to international standards. A key factor in this was his Cornell Chardonnay, which, beneath its lick of buttery oak, epitomizes the Alto Adige varietal style. In contrast, the Lafoa Sauvignon (from the Raifer family’s own vineyard) takes a more subtle and personal approach to a standard international variety, with its delicate quince flavors and dry, minerally finish. Schwarzhaus Pinot Nero is the winery’s up-and-coming red, and there is also quality among the local varietals.

Produttori di Terlano - Alto Adige/Terlano

location: via Silberleiten 7, Terlano
telephone number: 0471 257135
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2001 (w), 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Terlaner Sauvignon Quarz, Terlaner Pinot Bianco Vorberg, Lagrein Riserva Porphyr

This small co-op, also known as Cantina Terlano, specializes in exceptionally dry whites. It sources its grapes from high vineyards with sandy, quartz-rich soils that give amazingly intense and long-lived Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc. The cellar door list includes 10- and 12-year-old whites that still taste incredibly fresh. The very individual Lagrein combines the structure of wines from the Gries sub-zone with the intense aromas typical of Terlano.

Produttori San Michele Appiano - Alto Adige

location: via Circonvallazione 17/19, Appiano
telephone number: 0471 664466
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999 (w), 1997
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Sanct Valentin Sauvignon Blanc, Sanct Valentin Cabernet Sauvignon, Sanct Valentin Gewürztraminer

This dynamic co-op, which has the biggest turnover and the fastest growth of any winery in Alto Adige, was named Italian producer of the year in 2000 by Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso. Winemaker Hans Terzer’s style is up-front. He is best known for his dry whites, and in particular the sumptuous Sanct Valentin Sauvignon Blanc, but in the last few vintages he has also brought out spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Pinot Nero in the Sanct Valentin range.

Produttori Termeno - Alto Adige

location: strada del Vino 144, Termeno
telephone number: 0471 860126
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998
recommended wines: Alto Adige: Gewürztraminer Nussbaumerhof, Lagrein Urbanhof Terminum, Pinot Bianco Tauris

Willi Sturz is currently the hottest winemaker in the Alto Adige. His magic touch has taken Produttori Termeno’s single vineyard selections to the top of their category in the past two or three vintages. He has also worked magic on the mid-range and basic labels, so that this medium-sized cooperative now delivers one of the most convincing all-around performances in the region. The smooth, mellow fruit style of the whites is exemplified by the multiple award-winning Nussbaumerhof Gewürztraminer, while the stylish fruit and low-key oak of Sturz’s reds shine in his Urbanhof Lagrein.

Gewûrztraminer Symposium


DNA studies finally seem to have established what the locals have always claimed on the basis of the grape name: that Gewürztraminer does actually originate from the Alto Adige commune of Tramin, now called Termeno. For a week in July every year, this picturesque Tyrolean village becomes the world center for the spicy white varietal as it hosts a hedonistic International Symposium that bristles with food and wine events.

Over 200 Gewürztraminer wines from all over the world grace the main showroom. The meals are prepared by Michelin star chefs and the tastings are led by the current world champion sommelier.

Cantina La Vis - Trentino/IGT

location: via Carmine 7, Lavis
telephone number: 0462 246325
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2002 (w), 2001 (w), 1999 (r), 1995
recommended wines: Trentino Müller-Thurgau Maso Roncador, Ritratti Rosso Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT

This progressive cooperative offers outstanding value across the whole of its extensive range. La Vis was a pioneer in the cutting-edge research area of “zoning,” or matching sites to grape varieties in Trentino. Operating mainly on the cooler left (east) bank of the Adige, its traditional specialties are fruity white varietals such as the Chardonnay Ritratti and the deliciously scented Müller-Thurgau Maso Roncador; but it also turns out an IGT red Lagrein-Teroldego blend called Ritratti Rosso with inky depth of color and lots of smoky fruit.

Cesconi - Trentino/IGT

location: via Marconi 39, loc Pressano, Lavis
telephone number: 0461 240355
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2002 (w), 2001 (w), 2000 (r)
recommended wines: Olivar Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco IGT, Pivier Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso IGT, Trentino Pinot Grigio

This young, family-owned estate debuted in 1998 with a range of whites that put it among the region’s top independent growers. An equally impressive set of reds from the Mediterranean climate zone of Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) followed two years later. In the DOC range, the winemaking style lets the ripe fruit speak for itself, while the IGTs—Olivar and Pivier—are serious oak-aged wines that hold promise for the future. Both excellent, Olivar is a fleshy blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Grigio, and Pivier is a rich and spicy Merlot.

Ferrari - Trentino

location: via del Ponte di Ravina 15, Trento
telephone number: 0461 972311
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: sparkling
best vintages: 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990 (Riserva del Fondatore)
recommended wines: Trento: Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore, Perlé, Brut

This historic firm was founded in 1902 by a nursery owner with a head for business and a passion for viticulture. Ferrari’s Chardonnay-based style is classic Trentino. Quality is impeccable, all the way from the ridiculously good-value Brut to the breathtaking crystal elegance and complexity of the Riserva Giulio Ferrari, which is disgorged after eight years, released after 10, and still guaranteed to drink sublimely for another decade.

Foradori - Trentino/IGT

location: via Damiano Chiesa 1, Mezzolombardo
telephone number: 0461 603447
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2002, 2001 (r), 2000 (r), 1999 (r), 1996 (r)
recommended wines: Granato Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso IGT, Myrto Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco IGT, Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano

Elisabetta Foradori’s IGT wine Granato takes the rustic Teroldego grape to a level no other producer can reach. Like its creator, it can be tough and uncompromising, but it more than makes up for it with its depth and complexity. Exasperated by the inertia of the DOC, Elisabetta decided to cross over to the IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti with the 2000 vintage. Her dry, minerally second label remains Teroldego Rotaliano DOC.

Pojer & Sandri - Trentino/IGT

location: loc Molini 6, Faedo
telephone number: 0461 650342
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert, grappa
best vintages: 2002, 2001 (w), 2000, 1997, 1994 (r), 1993 (r)
recommended wines: Spumante Extra Brut, Besler Bianck Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco IGT, Rosso Faye Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso IGT

Mario Pojer and Fiorentino Sandri run Trentino’s most innovative winery. Since they launched in the early 1980s with a blush version of the local Schiava, this dynamic pair have never been without a new project and have generally kept one step ahead of the next trend. Their latest venture involves the production of terroir-focused wines, one red and one white, from the restored Maso Besler estate in the Val di Cembra, where the combination of high altitude and complicated blends of rare local varieties produces wines with intense and highly original aromas of berry fruit and wild herbs.

Tenuta San Leonardo - Trentino/IGT

location: fraz Borghetto all’Adige, loc San Leonardo 3, Avio
telephone number: 0464 689004
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1997, 1995, 1993, 1990
recommended wines: San Leonardo Rosso delle Dolomiti IGT, Villa Gresti Vigneti Rosso delle Dolomiti IGT

San Leonardo has been described as Italy’s equivalent of a Bordeaux premier cru. However, it is much more than a mere Médoc lookalike. The barriquesand the grape varieties—mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot—are indeed French, but the soils and climate are quintessentially Trentino. These elements combine to produce an herb and licorice nuance beneath the fruit—the hallmark of reds from the lower Valle dell’Adige. The classy new second label IGT wine is the plummy, Merlot-based Villa Gresti.

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