What do you get when you plant Sauvignon Blanc on the steep, high-altitude slopes near Bolzano in Alto Adige, the German-speaking slice of northern Italy also known as Südtirol? Whereas most Sauvignons that come from the various appellations within the Loire Valley bear some resemblance to each other, Peter Dipoli’s Voglar tastes, at most, like a third cousin, twice removed. It is unlike any Sauvignon Blanc you have had—unless you have tried this cuvée before. Even then, the 2016 Voglar is leaner, more chiseled than previous years. Evoking pine resin, citrus, white flowers, herbs, and stones, this bottling is a contender for “the most irresistibly intriguing wine you will taste all year.” Voglar is perennially one of Italy’s best whites, and our staff just might rank it as our favorite Sauvignon Blanc in the shop.
Peter Dipoli represents one of the wine world’s pure talents, a pioneer in Alto Adige who is producing wines on a level beyond what anyone thought possible in this mountainous region. After much research, Peter determined that the steep, high-altitude slopes near Bolzano were ideal for producing age-worthy white and red wines. He began with Sauvignon Blanc: at this altitude, Sauvignon attains great ripeness while retaining the acidity that would allow it to age in bottle. Peter’s research led him to detect a zone with a milder climate and soils of clay and limestone, ideal for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Experience the unique artistry of one of Italy's great talents, a secret largely guarded within Italy's borders, until now.
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.
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
Inspiring Thirst, page 236
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