Lagrien of Alto Adige



The Grape...
Lagrien is a black grape varietal grown exclusively in Trentino & Alto Adige, where it is widely planted. It produces deeply coloured wines high in acidity and tannin. It is consistently noted for rich dark fruit and spicy earth nuances. Poor renditions are often criticized for excessive astringency and musky tobacco notes. Roses of Lagrien are held in particular high regard. Its a well growing grape, with thick skins and high yields. There is word of wineries dabbling with Lagrien in South Australia and California, but few if any varietal releases. The wines below show some similarity to Spain's Graciano (aka Xeres in California).


The region...
Trentino - Alto Adige is the northern most region of Italy, divided into the two provinces of Tentino and Alto Adige (these wines). Alto Adige shares an Austrian border to the north and is majority German speaking, often using german wine naming and labeling as well. The region is famed for its quality Gewurtztraminer (thought to have originated here) although they allow quite a variety of grapes under the DOC. Soils are combination of clay, gravel, and limestone. Climate is diverse around the mountains, typically hot & dry summer days with quickly cooled evenings.


The Tramin 2009 Lagrien...


A great bottle from Merlo (Aspen Landing), at $24.95. Minimum 6 months spent in Oak and cement casks. Cantina Tramin is a large, cooperative winery that is owned by some 270 local farmers over 230 hectares (2.3 square km). Located in the comune of Tramin, the winery produces 1.5 million bottles annually with about 25% exported. The modern buildings show some fascinating architecture.


The color is essentially black with a violet rim. The nose is rich with ripe, wild berries and herbaceous Italian heat. There is freshness to the taste, with bright fruit and a pleasing earthy nature. The texture is velvety smooth and, despite some firm tannin, the body is surprisingly not heavy. This under-weighted feel of an otherwise full body gives an interesting sense of structure. Notes of huckleberry, blackberry, plum, dried herbs, tree root, smoked cedar, tobacco leaf. We paired it with herb-marinated lamb chops and bbq'd green veg... spot on.


The Tiefenbrunner 2009 Castel Turnhof Lagrien...



In comparison, this one skips some of the middle ground the Tramin covers, it's more aggressive and obvious in style, a little sharper and darker toned. It spends an extra couple months in oak (8) and shows a nice density in feel and flavour (and colour!). Rich dark fruits coupled to spicy oak and cured meats. It has firm tannin with a bit of grip and chew, almost full bodied, perfect acid balance to match food or fly solo. Pleasantries all the way down, it's quick to evaporate. This one comes from WineInk at $26.95.



These are both fairly straightforward wines that show the grapes intentions. Chock-full of deliciousness, satisfying and friendly, fruity and spicy, perfect after 10pm.






October 2011