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Wine Review: Germanic influence alive in Italy

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There is an area in Italy, located at the foothills of the Alps, called Alto Adige, which is the total antithesis of Italy, the Italian character and even Italian wine.

Once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the area was ceded to Italy after the first World War and was previously known as Sud (South) Tyrol. This area, like Alsace in France, is totally Germanic in language — although they also can speak Italian and many of the towns still have Germanic names — dress, appearance, character and everything else Germanic.

Another area of deviation is their wines. The vineyards of Alto Adige are blessed by the mineral-ladened water that flows from the Alps, imparting to the wines their signature mineral background.

Among the top wine producers of the region is Alois Lageder. Some of these wines are a bit costly, but you don’t get a Tesla for the price of a Kia Soul.

Alois Lageder 2017 Schiava Romigberg ($70)
The schiava grape is little known outside of Germanic countries. It’s a novel and interesting variety because it more closely resembles a white wine than a red. Wines made from the schiava grape are light-bodied, light-colored beverages — not rose color but a bit darker — that display a berry fruit aroma. A raspberry and spice flavor is followed by a fruity and moderately long finish. Because of its Tyrolean ancestry, the Alois Lageder 2017 Schiava Romigberg is the perfect wine to accompany the cold cuts that Germanic people love, as well as cheese- or bacon-based foods and anything usually associated with red wines. It’s a bratwurst’s best friend.

Alois Lageder Lowengang Chardonnay ($57)
For those of you whose high school German may be a bit rough, lowengang translates as lion’s passage. This is a good name because when you see a lion coming toward you, it is best to give way and let him pass. The same holds true for this chardonnay; most other chardonnay wines in the marketplace will have to give way to this exceptional wine. The wine displays all of the classical flavors and aromas expected of a chardonnay, but it is as though a flavor and aroma amplifier has been added to the wine. If you enjoy a chardonnay and have been disappointed by what is currently available, try this one.

Alois Lageder Haberle 2017 Pinot Bianco ($26)
The pinot bianco, aka pinot blanc, grape has seen little service in the United States. One sip of the Alois Lageder Haberle 2017 Pinot Bianco will have you scratching your head in wonderment as to why it lacks popularity here. This delightful wine offers an aroma of apple, orange and melon wrapped in a soft layer of oak, which carries on to the flavor to mingle with vanilla and a touch of citrus. The wine also displays a crisp acid bite, which enhances and amplifies its flavors and the foods it’s served with. This wine, because of its structure, allows it to accompany a broad spectrum of foods.

Alois Lageder 2017 Forra ($31)
This dry white wine was made from a grape found almost exclusively in Alto Adige: the manzoni bianco, a cross between riesling and pinot bianco. It is an interesting white wine that displays the flavor and aroma of peach, nectarine and other stone fruits, backed up by a noticeable citrus. If you like white wines, this will be an adventure into the future.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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