Archive for August, 2014

The joy of finding a rare native wine grape variety

August 30, 2014
As you travel around this area you find castle after castle, it's amazing!

As you travel around Alto Adige in Northern Italy you find castle after castle, it’s amazing!

A rare native white wine grape variety from Northern Italy

Jera, a rare native white wine grape variety from Val Venosta in Northern Italy

On a recent biking vacation in Northern Italy, in the german speaking Alto Adige region, I decided to spice up the trip by visiting some local wineries. The area is known for its crisp minerally white wines and is being discovered  for its lighter friuty red wines, as WSJ as written about recently http://online.wsj.com/articles/alto-adige-a-great-source-of-refreshing-summer-red-wines-1406302195

While the second half of our bike itinerary passed through the “official” wine country of Alto Adige which stars in the cith of Merano just west of Bolzano, the first half, through Val Venosta which started in Resia, at the  Austrian border and passed through Silandro on the way to Merano, had very few wineries. I was lucky though to arrange a visit with the Befehlhof Winery http://www.befehlhof.it (aka Weingut which is winery in German).  Like many wineries in Italy, it is family run and Magdalena Schuster looks after the winery. As I started the tasting, thef first thing i noticed is that there wasn’t any Pinot Bianco, the principal wine from the area. They decided to set themselves apart by producing less known grapes, like the crisp, minerally Zweigelt red wine grape variety from Austria and by creating traditional wine grape varieties from the area, like Muller Thurghau, with pizzazz, like wood and maloactic fermentation which, while common in many new world wines is not so common in Italy. But the best surprise of all was tasting a native wine grape which can ONLY be found in this small town (of Vezzano). It is call Jera, which is a super crisp, light and flowery white wine. It could be compared to Portugal’s vinho verde which has such an acute acidity that it seems defective, yet it gives it character and distinctiveness. Jera is an elegant wine which lingers in your mouth as a good wine should. While its acidity would make it more of a wine to eat with food, like fish or chicken, I like drinking it on its own as an aperitivo with some cheese, olives and cured meats.

 

If you like this article, let me know, I’ll write more about my great finds living in Italy!

 

Ciao for now

Sheila DonohueWine Mingle with Sheila Donohue

 

 

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