After the seminar and guided tasting, it was time to walk – walk around the tables of the twenty producers represented at the show and taste more deeply these wonderful wines. Since the trade show was held at The Skywalk of the Prudential Tower, the wines had some competition from the best view in Boston. The other distraction – or was it amenity – was the bountiful spread of cheese and charcuterie. In effect, lunch was provided. However, I was able to get down to business and concentrate on tasting. The highlight for me at these specialized trade tastings is the opportunity to meet and talk with people actually connected with the wineries, be they winemakers or owners or both. They evince a level of passion at times missing from the larger wine expos where wineries can often be represented by reps. Other highlights for me were –
- The sparklings wines from Arunda Vivaldi Sparkling Winery. There were two – the Arunda Extra Brut (no dosage), a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir and the Arunda Excellor Brut Rosé, 100% Pinot Noir. The wines are produced using la méthode champenoise. Both were quite fresh and very lively – perhaps it’s the altitude. At nearly 4000 ft., Arunda Vivaldi claims to be the highest sparkling winery in Europe, if not the world. At under $40 a bottle, they are also good value.
- The varietal tables. To better acquaint the trade with the dominant grapes of Alto Adige, there were four tables, each devoted to a single varietal – Pinot Grigio, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Bianco, Lagrein, and Pinot (Noir) Nero. Oddly ,the most prevalent grape of the region, Schiava, was not represented. Since the seminar had focused on white grapes, I now concentrated on the reds. Lagrein, for me, is a great picnic wine, somewhat like Beaujolais-Villages. Yet it was the Pinot Nero which showed great delicacy and typicity. This most fickle grape definitely has found a home in Alto Adige.
- The wines of Peter Zemmer. Usually, by the end of a tasting, I’m difficult to impress, but the last wines I tried were notable – the Peter Zemmer Chardonnay 2010 and the Pinot Noir 2008. Both wines are well made and structured with a good balance between fruit and acidity. Both wines retail for under $20 making them good value. This was a great way to end my walk-around.
The wines of Alto Adige had been on my radar recently and when we received the invitation to attend, I was excited. And not disappointed. Usually I avoid Pinot Grigio at all costs – I’ll even drink a California Chardonnay instead. Frankly, the Italians, for the most part, have ruined this grape. I was able to get a new perspective and appreciation for Pinot Grigio. Even though the larger producers from Alto Adige were represented and lent their support – Colterenzio, Alois Lageder and St. Michael-Eppan, names most likely familiar to consumers – the bulk of the trade show was devoted to the small family-run wineries and up-and-coming cooperatives making good – and good value – wines. Now I’ll drink to that!