An incredibly nuanced, delicate, ethereal Pinot Nero...
This vineyard has been known to produce great Pinot Nero in Alto Adige since the mid-nineteenth century. Ferruccio’s daughter Michela and Peter Dipoli, a wine grower in nearby Egna, combined forces recently to write a book about this famous Italian terroir. Mazzön is a western-facing limestone shelf suspended above the valley near the town of Ora, where the Carlotto winery is located. From this striking site, Michela crafts an incredibly nuanced, delicate, ethereal Pinot Nero, which she ages in a combination of large and small oak casks. It offers the type of excitement with this grape that I can only recall experiencing in Burgundy. The aforementioned book reveals the history behind the painstaking search for Italy’s best site for Pinot Nero that ended here, clinging to these Dolomite cliffs south of the Austrian border: Pinot Nero plucked from the heavens. This wine needs time to develop in bottle, and Michela kindly agreed to hold back her 2013 and release it one year later than usual for our inaugural shipment to the US market.
In the heart of the Dolomites, Alto Adige is Italy’s northernmost wine region. Having changed hands multiples times in its history between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (it shares a border with Austria), it boasts strong Germanic influence on its culture, language, cuisine, as well as its wines.
The mountainous geography is the principal determinant of local winemaking styles, with the high-altitude vineyards and cool Alpine climate favoring primarily crisp, racy, aromatic whites from varieties like Kerner, Sauvignon, Müller Thurgau, and Grüner Veltliner. A Mediterranean influence on climate is channeled north up the valley until Bolzano, permitting the cultivation of certain reds as well, among which Schiava, Lagrein, Pinot Nero, and Merlot fare best.
Small growers who once sold fruit to the area’s multiple co-ops are now increasingly bottling their own wines. The arrival of many quality-oriented artisans on the scene caught our eye years ago, and we now count three estates from Südtirol, as it is also known, in our portfolio. These high-acid mountain wines make for a beautifully invigorating aperitivo with thinly sliced speck, a local specialty.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
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