Mountain Wines

High quality from South Tyrol’s extreme vineyard sites
In the tradition-steeped winegrowing area located at the southernmost tip of German-speaking Europe, there is still much to discover. Thanks to modern technology in the cellars and meticulous work in the vineyards, there are more and more international-level wines being produced here. Due to climate change in recent years, cultivation in South Tyrol has steadily expanded into higher elevations. South Tyrol’s first pioneer winemaker, who always believed firmly in the great potential of high-elevation sites located here, was Herbert Tiefenbrunner: his Feldmarschall, a Müller Thurgau, thrives at elevations exceeding 1,000 meters on a mountain plateau known as Fennberg in the Bassa Atesina/Unterland area.
Müller Thurgau, a variety (Riesling X Madeleine Royal) that is underestimated from time to time, finds its ideal terroir on this high plateau: with loamy limestone soil, the site is sheltered from the north wind and enjoys a unique microclimate. The Feldmarschall is Alto Adige’s most illustrious Mountain Wine and the greatest pride of the Tiefenbrunners, a legendary family of winemakers: “The delicate green to light yellow hues of this extreme Müller Thurgau are delightful, as is its extraordinarily intense yet broad spectrum of aromas. White peach, apricot and spicy, floral notes reminiscent of sage and jasmine form an elegant cavalcade of aromas. Finely structured and boasting delightful acidity, this wine is racy and mineral in the finish.”

Herbert Tiefenbrunner’s pioneering of high-altitude winegrowing in South Tyrol has long since given rise to avid imitators. Franziskus Haas, one of Italy's most important producers of Pinot noir, has planted a high-elevation, steep meadow in the municipality of Truden with suitable white varieties – and of course with his most important variety, the Pinot noir. The successful first vinification of this mountain Pinot noir also spurred South Tyrol’s most important donna del vino, Elena Walch. In Aldein, just a few meters below Franziskus Haas’ Pinot noir sites, the winemaker from Termeno/Tramin has likewise planted an impressive parcel with the noblest of all red wine varieties. In a few years Walch’s Ludwig, which consistently shines at international Pinot noir competitions, will receive a twin brother from the steep Aldein cru.

On the other side of the valley, Werner Morandell of the Lieselehof Winery has gone to truly extreme heights: he planted a small Solaris vineyard on a southern slope on Mendelberg situated above 1300 meters (!). The Solaris variety is a fungus-resistant white, the grapes of which do not require spraying. After cold fermentation and perhaps a period of maceration as well, the wines are very robust with intense fruit and full body.

Even in South Tyrol’s northernmost winegrowing area the vineyards are migrating slowly, slowly into the heights. Here too, just like Franziskus Haas in Truden and Elena Walch in Aldein, one dreams of a high-elevation Pinot noir with subtle fruit and a great deal of finesse. Andreas Huber of Pacherhof Winery in Novacella/Neustift, a member of the Vinum Hotels Südtirol, is already in the advance stages of planning for the first Pinot noir cru planted at a daringly high elevation in Val d’Isarco/Eisacktal. The renowned white-wine producer plans to make his long-awaited breakthrough into the red wine sector within the next few years. As a partner of South Tyrol’s most important wine estates, the Vinum Hotels Südtirol group looks forward keenly to the new Mountain Wines, which thrive at adventurous heights despite wind, weather, snow and ice. We can expect new extreme Alto Adige wines, the austerity and straightforward elegance of which is bound to delight wine aficionados.
October’s Vinum Hotel Wine Story:
South Tyrol Wine Summit
Over the course of the last decades, South Tyrol’s wine industry has experienced an unprecedented boom. This has been the result of a consistent focus on quality. Where is the South Tyrolean wine today – from a local, national and international point of view? In October, the Vinum Hotel Wine Story will focus on the new lead event of the Alto Adige Wine Consortium and IDM Südirol – Alto Adige: the South Tyrol Wine Summit.