WINE SCHOOL 20 - 26 September 2021

REGION: Italy > North East > Trentino-Alto Adige

On the border with Austria in the far north of Italy, this largely German-speaking mountainous region is home to a cornucopia of grape varieties. Despite its northern latitude and high altitude, many of the valley areas trap warmth allowing a wide range of grapes to ripen - both red and white. Large quantities of light sparkling wines (Asti and Spumante) are made in Trentino. To the north in Alto Adige, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc are often successful.

Key red grapes: Schiava, Pinot Nero
Key white grapes: Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc

GRAPE: Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc isn't often thought of as a great wine making grape. And it's true that it lacks the oomph of Chardonnay, the distinctiveness or Riesling or the stridency of Sauvignon Blanc, but it is very capable of making nuanced and quietly accomplished wines.

Pinot Blanc's subtlety bestows two great virtues. Firstly, it is often transformed into supremely food-friendly, palate-refreshing wines that form a perfect supporting act to lovingly prepared chicken, seafood or vegetable dishes. Secondly, it makes an intriguing transmitter of terroir.

The best examples from Alsace can be dreamy, creamy and delicately spiced. In California and Oregon a number of winemakers have successfully broadened out ripe Pinot Blanc with ageing in new oak barrels - creating a kind of Chardonnay-lite. In Italy's high altitude Alto Adige the grape shows yet another side: more mineral and perhaps with notes of green apple.

SYNONYMS: Clevner/Klevner (Alsace), Pinot Bianco (Italy), Weissburgunder (Austria, Germany)


Next week in WINE SCHOOL: Napa Valley (USA) & Zinfandel

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