Wine Dharma

Pinot Noir Fever. Italian tasting: 11 stunning Pinot Noir from South Tyrol

Pinot Noir vineyards in Trentino Alto Adige Cortina: the best Italian Pinot Noir Pinot Noir vineyards in Cortina, Alto Adige, Dornach winery Pinot Noir is the prince of Trentino Alto Adige. There are three main areas where it has put down deep roots. In Trentino, over the hills north of Trento, near Lavis, there are few winegrowers that bottle excellent wines: they are austere, with elegant grassy essences and highly structured; even if the real deal here are the sparkling wines—Trento DOC—coming from Pinot Noir, which aspire, with Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese, to be the king of Italian bubbles. Then we have the tiny villages of Egna, Montagna and Mazzon, definitely the best Italian Pinot Noir cru, where vintage after vintage it gets better, thanks to a unique soil made of silt and sand stones. In the end we will consider some Pinot Noir from the valleys north of Bolzano. There are not many vignerons willing to grow a delicate vine such as Pinot Noir in a land so impervious and historically linked to white wines, but they are doing a wonderful job evaluating this microclimate and producing cutting hedge wines: keep an eye on these valley wedged into the Alps, they will the next big thing in few years.

Pinot Nero Meczan 2009, Hofstatter

An easy and well done wine, modulated on a sound balance. There are no flaws, starting from the vivid ruby red color. The fragrances of dried flowers—jasmine and geranium— cherry and earth are fine and straight. The palate is soft, the freshness balanced, the long finish leave behind an intriguing herby sensation. It’s mature, to drink now with Herb-crusted Lamb Chops or Pollo alla Diavola. Price/quality ratio insuperable for a Pinot Noir to cork every given day: it will be soon your best friend.

Pinot Nero Crozzol, 2008, Hofstatter

Limpid, transparent ruby red. The nose is austere, the aromas come to the surface little by little: roses, raspberries, wild strawberries and currants, a light touch of sandal and smoke due to the barrel aging. In the mouth is soft and warm, with a rounded equilibrium in which stand out a mint driven freshness. Pair this rustic and intriguing Pinot Noir with Tonkatsu with Cabbage and Mustard. A great battle ram to tame the most substantial dishes.

Pinot Nero Riserva Mazon, 2007, Hofstatter

As you watch the garnet reflections swirling in the glass you get more and more sucked in. The nose is vibrant and complex without being pretentious. The fresh flowers are drying in an elegant potpourri; sour cherries and wild berries are ripening in a underbrush where mushrooms and pepper are blooming. The aroma intensity is compelling and you can identify, in a gracefully mighty body, all the ethereal and intoxicating shades that make every connoisseur love this grape. The flowers are vanishing into the shadow of a gentle tannin, leaving a toasty memory that should be paired with Tutto il Piccione (all the pigeon) a recipe from the Povero Diavolo restaurant, but a simple Salmon filet with Soy Sauce, Garlic and Sesame should work too. A jack of trades to solve all the matches, also with very elaborated food.

Pinot Nero Barthenau Vigna S. Urbano 2007, Hofstatter

When does a wine become great? When simple fermented grape juice goes behind its physic limit and starts transmitting the same sensations of Art. When we can’t feel anymore the single components of the wine, because they are sublimated into a whole much more soulful than the sum. The wine comes alive and tells us its history. So speaking of numbers became trivial and please leave aside the rationality for a while, since nobody will dare to give a score to the Cappella Sistina or to the Chopin Nocturnes. But let’ take a look at these components. The first impact is a full immersion in a fountain of currants and ripe cherries, over which are floating rose petals and tea leafs. The acidity is gently carved without being peevish, as it should be for a purebred. The coffee breathes are inviting and toasted to perfection, some walnuts are winking near cocoa and coriander’s drops, the ethereal notes elevate the bouquet and in the dark tannins you can smell truffles and mosses. This wine is balanced, the aromas are persistent and rich, as the color itself, which is bright ruby red. If there is an imperfection it’s the tannin’s filigree. A little bit too edgy, but it’s also its passport to eternity. When it comes to matching food, this Pinot Noir has no limits at all: from a modest take-away Pita Gyros drenched in a tzatziki lake to a delicious Babette’s Quail en Sarcophage.

Pinot Nero Schweizer 2008, Franz Haas

Immediately after the Barthenau, we could not speak about its direct competitor, less thick, but maybe more ethereal. Haas’s Pinot Noir is immaculate, warm and with a mouthwatering roundness. What impress you most is the simplicity with which this melody—wild strawberries, menthol, eucalyptus, moss—fluidly flows, seducing with many dynamic aromas that outline a fine fresco where every strokes are in the right place. The deep acidity keeps the wine straight and interesting and the tannins are persistent and smoothly highlighted by the thickness of the sweet spices. From an underbrush of lights and shadows nuances jump out jimmies and a delicious espresso cream, to conclude the long finish is marked by star-anise and jasmine. From the grandiosity of the Cappella Sistina we switch to the ingenious detail of Leonardo’s Lady with the Ermine. Pair this Pinot Noir with all the Indian food that have some cumin inside, heavily marinated and herb-crusted Souvlaki, Curry Chicken with sweet Peppers, Couscous with Cilantro, Mint and Sultanas, Tagliatelle with Rabbit Ragu.

Pinot Nero 2009, Franz Haas

The mouth is tasty and silky, even if the vanilla suggestion are too intrusive and flatten a stream otherwise sumptuous of small red berries, plum, violet, humus, caramel and mint. A very good bottle, very drinkable, smooth, balanced and punchy, son of Haas’s meticulousness, who has never hesitated on the road to perfect the Pinot Noir. If you happen to come across the 2008 vintage, don’t miss the opportunity to drink it, it’s much more cleaner and refined. For this fruity Pinot Noir you can choose food with a touch of sweetness, so let’s pair with a bowl of Tonjiru, a miso soup with pork and vegetables or a classic Ankake Donburi of Chicken and Shrimps or some slices of Fegato alla Veneziana.

Pinot Nero Trattmann Riserva 2007, Girlan

Girlan is the social winery of Cornaiano, a village of 2200 souls. Yearly, on October 15th, to celebrate the end of the harvest, the inhabitants organize a grape festival and everybody wears the traditional dresses: it’s a big, cheerful party, a true moment of joy. And their Pinot Noir is likewise. Warm, full of blinking shades and colors that reminds this land. Also the wine appearance has nothing to hide, it’s shining red garnet. The aromas of ripe blackberries, red currants, olive, prune, anise, go up our nose and gently stimulate our brain. The ethereal notes are clearly articulated. Humus, coffee, coconut and walnuts are floating between a good saltiness and a tender, but well founded, tannin. An excellent Pinot Noir, above all considering the honest price. Pair with Smoked Duck Breast with Truffles and Gateau of Cauliflower and Mint.

Pinot Nero Palladium 2009, K. Martini & Sohn

Is there any certainty in life? The Martini’s Pinot Noir. A clean and elegant wine. It opens with austere red fruits, freshly cut wild roses, lavender. It has the right amount of oak, without being too bully. The tannin is running fluently, the acidity is in line with the general balance. The final is rewarding and leaves a flavor of after eight. With this price, it’s a great buy. A not too much fiery Kimchì should thrive with this Pinot Noir, but try also some Khao Pad Goong or a plate of Tuna and Fois Gras Sushi.

Alto Adige Pinot Nero, Abtei Muri Riserva 2008

A very typical wine with a stylish nose of raspberries, fennel, currants and fleshy flowers. On the other side of the moon the spiciness of the wine is firmly structured and a delightful hint of coconut and sandal runs through all the wine keeping it alive and kicking. This wine is a valuable ally for matching food, indeed the score benefits of a little bonus: its extreme versatility. Having a vibrant freshness and a gentle tannin the Abtei Muri Pinot Noir is perfect to add a touch of tart fruitiness to the pairing without the burden of an aggressive tannin. Let’s drink this Pinot Noir with a bowl of Poh, the famous and delicious Vietnamese soup, for the subtle harmony that is created in conjunction with cilantro, anise and ginger.

Pinot Nero Sanct Valentin 2008, St. Michael Eppan

Another social winery that, despite the huge production, churns out excellent bottles and definitely deserves a visit. Getting used to the quality was never so easy, because often also the biggest wineries has a line of high quality wines, coming from small parcels, that put them in head to head competition with the artisans of the wine. Take a look to this wine: pure elegance. A red heart of cherry jelly, jasmine, tea and raspberries enclosed in a body sculpted by sweet spices, ginger, with fresh flurries of mint and moss as background notes. Polished and juicy, with a close focused cookie tannin to support and seal the quality of this bottle. You can’t ask anything more to a Pinot Noir that loves the toffee-salty flavor of a Tenderloin Pork with Ginger and Shiitake Mushrooms or simple Fried Chicken Glazed with Leek and Cardamom Sauce.

Valle Venosta, Pinot Nero 2009, Tenuta Unterortl, Castel Juval

This winery, owned by Reinhold Messner but run by Gisele and Martin Aurich, not only produces one of the best Riesling of all Italy, but also a stunning Pinot Noir. The main feature of this Pinot is the tastiness, it’s abyssal and multifaceted as the mountains around these vineyards. Yes there is a little bit of tannin too, but is very soft and I dare you to find a saltier Pinot in all the World. A never ending whirlwind of currants, roses, wild berries, cardamom, coconut, espresso candy, then a sweet touch of smoked caramel and again and again this unbelievable “hit like a truck” saltiness, which gives a rocky final to this precious jewel hidden in the Alps. Considering the sweet and toasted tastiness of this Pinot Noir we have the duty to pair it with a crunchy Ham or a Grilled Loin Pork both with Orange Marmalade Glaze.

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