"Spontaneous fermentation, amphora wine, experimentation"

new natural South Tyrolean wines in the spotlight
Wine professor Rainer Zierock passed away in 2009 after a much too short yet eventful life. No wine is purer than Rainer's wine - that's what some of his harshest critics said, those who couldn't really come to terms with the idea of natural wine. Perhaps Zierock, the wine professor (first in Montpellier and later in San Michele) was 20 or even 30 years ahead of his time: when he died, natural wines were either met with hostility or at best smiled at. In the meantime, several young winegrowers in South Tyrol have also acquired a taste for nature, swear by spontaneous fermentation and are wary of using too much wine cellar technology. Some consider Rainer Zierock to be an important source of inspiration, almost a the spiritual father of natural wine.

The Vinum Hotels South Tyrol February Wine Letter is dedicated to these rather daring South Tyrolean natural wines!
 
 
Zierock's last wine project was at Sackerhof, a 13th century farm in Unterinn, originally owned by the Curia: Dr. Margret Hubmann, the owner of the estate, generously supported Zierock financially thus enabling him to fulfil his dream of a natural "universal wine" – along with board and lodging. He planted varieties like Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Gris and more than 150 Greek grape varieties for white cuvées ("Dolomytos") and red cuvées ("Skythos"). The first vintage, the 2000, was bottled after 4 years -, unfortunately, Zierock who was a natural philosopher, did not possess much sales talent.

Seven years ago, Bruni and her father Norbert Marginter purchased the enchanted, overgrown vineyard, worked it, dug out and rescued the historic Zierock bottles from the "cellar tunnel" that was in danger of collapsing and continue to work in the vineyard and wine cellar in the spirit of Rainer Zierock. The 2015 vintage, which has just come onto the market, was recently presented with a novelty: "Amphora", a wine cellared in amphorae - a "blend" of the 2014 & '16 vintages, one part was bottled in a glass bottle & the other in an earthenware vessel as original as a bottle of "Steinhäger" which is to be found on the shelves of the wine stores. The Marginter’s cannot complain about the success of their high-quality, even highly priced natural wine - the charisma of Rainer Zierock & his legendary, long-standing "Dolomytos" wines is uninterrupted.

After remarkable successes with Pinot Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, Wolfgang Tratter, master cellarman from St. Pauls was finally able to pull off a hare-brained scheme: he cellared a Pinot Blanc in almost perfect accordance with the original Georgian wine model, a St. Pauls Pinot Blanc from vines over 90 years old growing on steep slopes in handmade earthenware amphorae! And to ferment it there for a similar length of time as a Georgian master cellarman would have done with his “Kvevri" (Georgian giant amphorae with up to a 2000 litre capacity). Its name, befitting the village of Saint Pauls: "Sanctissimus", the Holy of Holies or the most venerable: 2 months of maceration in amphorae and then again storage in amphorae for a whole year. The rebirth of this natural approach has been a resounding success.

The 2015 "Sanctissimus" has been drunk up and the 2017 will be on the market in early autumn. The barrel samples at St. Pauls Winery promise a nutty, salty, eminently crisp Pinot Blanc unfolding Georgian traits and South Tyrolean character!
 
 
The Vinum Hotel March Wine Letter
"Solidarity, unity in difficult times!" -
A portrait of the 12 South Tyrolean Winery Cooperatives

Edmund Mach - in 1874 the founding director of the St. Michael agricultural college - is considered a prominent promoter of the South Tyrolean cooperative system of the 19th century. In 1893, the first South Tyrolean winery cooperative was founded in Andriano and as early as 1900, the seven cooperatives which had already established themselves joined together to form the Association of Winery Cooperatives.


Towards the end of the 19th century, many Tyrolean winegrowers living on the verge of poverty - most of them small farmers or peasants, - were completely and utterly at the mercy of the big, powerful wine merchants. By means of the cooperative union initiated by Mach, even small farmers were slowly able to shift the fate of their livelihoods into their own hands.

The Vinum Hotels Südtirol March Wine Letter is dedicated to the South Tyrolean winery cooperatives, whose strong bond has ensured their survival for many generations, even in the most of difficult times!