How good a year was 2016 for South Tyrol?

We present the new vintage, considered by many experts to be one of the best for the last 20 years
Does the 2016 vintage deliver everything that the warm weeks of autumn promised? South Tyrol’s leading winemakers were surveyed about this year’s outstanding production.

With considerably more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, South Tyrol is one of the world’s most fascinating mountainous wine regions. South Tyrolean wines have to a large extent retained their native and regional identities: they taste of the wind and weather, of gravelly, moraine and loamy soils, sometimes of an ideal year, sometimes a more truculent one. But there are always wines with a clearly recognisable style, as irregular and exhilarating as the mountains upon whose slopes they grow – another reason to stimulate the palate of wine lovers!
 
 
In the words of the experienced and long-standing Kurtatsch winemaker Othmar Doná: “The remarkable 2016 vintage really was a joy for our hard-working winegrowers and, not least, for us as winemakers. Harvests with such thoroughly healthy grapes make it a special pleasure to go down into the deep cellar!” Kurtatsch’s higher white wine growing locations have a clearly northern character, while it is not just the many cypress and olive trees planted among the lower-lying vineyards that have led these gentle slopes to be called the “Tuscany of South Tyrol”. Othmar Doná repeatedly amazes with his new creations. Those who used to mock the weak varietal profile of a Müller Thurgau will now be astonished how well this (not always popular) white wine thrives in the Kurtatsch hamlet of Graun! And if there was an award for a decade of consistently high quality, then the “Kofl” Sauvignon from nearby Penon would also be right up among the varietals of South Tyrol.

Girlan’s Schreckbichl winery is also distinguished by the high quality of its grape harvest. Director Maximilian Niedermayr is expecting an average harvest quantity: “Last year we picked over 2,600 tonnes, this year the harvest could reach 2,800”, he predicts. It is not only the fine weather in the weeks before the harvest, but also the particular efforts of the winegrowers in the vineyards and careful picking that are critical quality factors as in the final analysis, good wine can only be made from good, healthy grapes. “Previous results means we are very confident that the 2016 vintage will produce some really wonderful, pleasing wines”, emphasises Martin Lemayr, the winemaker at Schreckbichl. “The Blauburgunder and Sauvignon varieties are particularly good this year”, he enthuses.

The rising star in the South Tyrol wine firmament, Markus Prackwieser of the Gumphof in Völs, is more than happy with the quality of the grapes: “2016 will probably go down as one of the most outstanding vintages in the annals of our winegrowing history. I am expecting very fruity, but very muscular white wines – while among the red wines this year, the sun-hungry varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Lagrein should all produce excellent results!” The Gumphof winery, and indeed the whole southern Eisack Valley, is blessed by southern winds, with the “ora” blowing up northwards from Lake Garda in the afternoon, while the nights are generally rather cool. Sauvignon and particularly Weissburgunder (Pinot Bianco) grapes therefore do particularly well at the Gumphof. Markus has also inherited a love of Vernatsch from his father: and the 2016 Vernatsch is promising to be a delight: “My Vernatsch has a beautiful red fruit; it may never become a great international prestige wine, but it doesn’t need to. It is more important that it retains its typical character that makes it one of the best wines for accompanying a meal. Simplicity is often more important than density or complexity. Because drinking Vernatsch has to be fun!“
 
 
The Vinum Hotel wine story in February:

“South Tyrol’s wine co-operatives are the best in the world!” – this has been the view of the “Gambero Rosso”, Italy’s most important wine guide, for years and indeed decades now. In February the South Tyrol wine “locomotives” will be presented as successful and important partners of the VINUM Hotels of South Tyrol with a view behind the scenes of some of the famous wine co-operatives.