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2019 Alto Adige Pinot Nero “Mazzon”

Ferruccio Carlotto

Of the three wines she crafts, Michela considers the Pinot Noir to be the most arduous—and to possess the most potential for glory.


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Alto Adige sits like a crown along Italy’s northernmost border. This far-flung region is an epic Alpine paradise undulating between snow-capped peaks, mossy forests, wildflower-blanketed meadows, and pristine mirrored lakes. Part of Austria until just over one hundred years ago, Alto Adige was annexed by Italy at the end of World War I. The resulting province was shaped long ago by German-Austrian influence, and it’s one that is still full of rich contrasts in customs, language, and cuisine. Sleepy villages of wooden chalet-style houses are built around steepled medieval churches. You’re likely to be greeted with a simple hallo rather than a sing-song buongiorno! While pasta remains an omnipresent staple (like their strangolapreti, or “priest stranglers,” a gnocchi-like bread and spinach dumpling), other local delicacies include goulash, speck, and apple strudel.
     Just 15 kilometers south of Bolzano, in the small commune of Ora (or Auer in German, as it’s known by the locals) sits the humble cellar of Weingut Carlotto. Father-daughter duo Ferruccio and Michela Carlotto have been making wine here together for more than 20 years, farming five hectares planted to Pinot Nero, Lagrein, and Schiava. Pinot Nero makes up two-thirds of their vineyard land, and for good reason. The esteemed cru of Mazzon in which they work is renowned as the birthplace for Italy’s finest expression of Pinot Noir, providing the ultimate terroir and growing conditions for the grape. The soil is a rich and complex mixture of sand, clay, limestone, and chalk; its high-altitude, west-facing exposition means vines benefit from warm afternoon sun; strong southerly winds blow up from Lake Garda to keep the grapes dry and healthy. Only a dozen or so producers farm Pinot Noir on this precious, perfect hillside, and to work a tiny piece of it is an enormous prize.      
     Of the three wines she crafts, Michela considers the Pinot Noir to be the most arduous—and to possess the most potential for glory. In the glass, note the shade of pale ruby, and the tart red currant, worn leather, and forest floor aromatics; the vivid fruit and earthiness lead to a palate with silky tannins, gentle spice, and a subtle bittersweet quality like dark chocolate and black cherries. Emanating an exquisite Italian Alpine characterfulness that could come from nowhere else in the world, there is tangible energy and freshness in the glass, as well as a cooling minerality like a mountain spring. This is exquisite Pinot Noir—one of Italy’s most beguiling hidden gems.

Madison H. Brown

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Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2019
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Pinot Nero
Appellation: Vigneti delle Dolomiti
Country: Italy
Region: Alto Adige
Producer: Ferruccio Carlotto
Winemaker: Michela Carlotto
Vineyard: Planted in 2000, 2010, 2012, 2014, & 2015; 3 ha
Soil: Sand, clay, chalk, limestone
Aging: 20% of wine aged in 22hl barrels and 80% aged in 225L barrels for 12 months
Farming: Sustainable
Alcohol: 14%

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About The Region

Alto Adige

map of Alto Adige

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.

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