The 9 best Gewürztraminer from Alto Adige and Trentino selected by Gambero Rosso

May 24 2024, 18:17
Here are the Gewürztraminers we appreciated the most this year, awarding them with Tre Bicchieri or Due Bicchieri Rossi

As we observed during the tastings for Gambero Rosso's Vini d'Italia 2024 guide, the winemaking industry in the province of Bolzano in Alto Adige stands out for the awareness with which producers are facing new challenges. These challenges not only involve climate change or sudden market volatility but, more importantly, the management of the land, development of its potential, and the shift from production that merely meets customer demands to one that enhances the connection between the various cultivated grape varieties and their ideal growing conditions.

This renewed awareness has led smaller companies to specialize in the vocation of their vineyards, as perfectly demonstrated by urban wineries or more distant realities in the Isarco Valley. Similarly, cooperative structures are reserving their best selections for the grape varieties that best adapt to their territories.

The region itself does the rest, allowing for the development of vineyards from 220 meters in the valley floor to over 1000 meters in higher areas. This diversity creates areas like Oltradige, where many varieties find a high-quality habitat with sunny and warm days followed by cool, breezy nights.

Here, we focus on wines made from one of the most renowned aromatic grape varieties, the Traminer, likely originating from the area of Tramin (Termeno in Italian), a small town in Alto Adige. Although French ampelographers suggest it may come from Jura as a sub-variety of the local Savagnin. There are two species of this grape: Traminer and Aromatic Traminer, the latter better known as Gewürztraminer, which literally means aromatic (or spicy) wine from Termeno. The difference between the two lies precisely in the “content” of aromas. The grape is primarily cultivated in Alto Adige, to a lesser extent in Trentino, and more rarely in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Outside of Italy, it is mainly found in Alsace and the Rhine Valley.

A good Gewürztraminer comes from old vineyards situated quite high up, in areas with significant temperature variations. One of its characteristics is its ability to age well. When fully matured, it develops aromas of fruit (fig), jam, spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger), and an intense aroma of dried rose.

The best Gewürztraminers awarded with Tre Bicchieri and Due Bicchieri Rossi

Gewürztraminer Auratus '22, once again, this wine has convinced our panels, thanks to an explosive aromatic profile of citrus, spices, and floral notes. In the mouth, the typical fullness of the grape is perfectly managed by the saline presence and delicate acidity. The Roner family, known for their distilling activities over generations, also runs the Ritterhof estate, one of the most interesting realities in Oltradige. Today, Eva Kaneppele, with the valuable collaboration of her father Ludwig, leads a company that owns about ten hectares and collaborates with numerous local winegrowers to complete the home production. Their wines range from straightforward interpretations where the grape variety is the protagonist to more ambitious ones where the territory plays a significant role.

Gewürztraminer Brenntal '21, this wine presents a more elegant and tense profile than in the past, a result of the perfect 2021 harvest and an interpretation that focuses more on finesse than power. The usual exotic and spicy array develops in a rich palate that maintains agility and saline push, resulting in a wine that's a pleasure to drink. The Cantina di Cortaccia, nestled on the hillside at the foot of Mendola, is the hub of activity for almost 200 winegrowing families in the Bassa Atesina area. The vineyards, spread between 200 and 900 meters above sea level, allow for the optimal placement of each variety, from Bordeaux varieties in the lower vineyards to Müller Thurgau in the higher ones. In the cellar, Kellermeister Erwin Carli has taken the helm from Othmar Donà and now leads the technical team.

Nussbaumer '21. A classy Gewürztraminer offering notes of dried rose perfectly blending with fruity, spicy, and floral sensations, leading to a solid, enveloping palate with great tension. Today's Cantina Tramin was born from the merger fifty years ago between the historic cooperatives of Termeno and Egna. It now benefits from the efforts of 160 families cultivating vineyards entirely in the Bassa Atesina area, from the lower zones of Ora, where Lagrein gains richness and acidic tension, to the higher areas of Glen and Mazzon, where Pinot Noir matures fragrant and elegant. On the western side of the valley, the lower territories of Söll enhance Gewürztraminer, while the higher areas are reserved for the more ambitious Chardonnays.

Gewürztraminer Frauerigl '22. Starting off closed, this wine then enchants with its aromas, offering a harmonious and long-lasting glass. Peter Zemmer runs the family estate in the Bassa Atesina area, an extensive vineyard platform including both owned vineyards and those managed by local winegrowers who deliver their harvest to the Cortina winery. The vineyards extend not only in the valley floor near the winery but also explore the eastern and western slopes of the area, with varieties needing a cooler climate rising up to nearly 1000 meters.

Kleinstein '22. Explosive in aromatic expression, Cantina di Bolzano is the focal point for over 200 families, passionate and attentive custodians of a territory stretching from the Bolzano basin to the entrance of the Isarco Valley and the steeper, higher slopes of Renon. Each variety finds its ideal placement here, benefiting from very diverse soils, exposures, and climatic conditions, with a harvest from 350 hectares of vineyards. Significant space is given to all regional grape varieties, but the place of honor traditionally goes to Schiava and Lagrein.

Gewürztraminer Passito Cresta 2020. One of the wines presented this year by Tenuta Hans Rottensteiner. The company's origins date back to the post-World War II period, when Hans began producing wines to sell in the nearby Swiss market. It was his son Toni in the 1980s who made the first quality leap by bottling the production himself. Today, it is his grandson Hannes and wife Judith who shape the company profile we know, with production relying on five directly managed estates and the work of numerous Bolzano winegrowers delivering grapes to the company.

Plon '22. Christian Bellutti runs the family estate at the gates of Termeno. Among the varieties cultivated, Gewürztraminer naturally stands out. The Plon '22 intensely smells of exotic fruit and spices, while the palate impresses with fullness and density, resulting in a long and fascinating finish.

Gewürztraminer Kastelaz '21. This wine is the usual white with intense and stimulating aromaticity. The relationship between the Walch family and Atesina viticulture is centuries-old, but it was with Elena's arrival in the 1980s that the company took a leap forward, quickly becoming a reference point for enthusiasts. Today, her daughters Julia and Karoline are at the helm, managing a vineyard platform extending over about 90 hectares, from 250 meters in the valley floor up to 1000 meters, where varieties requiring more freshness reside.

Traminer '22. Presented by Oscar and Andrea Zanini, sons of the company's founder, Luigi. The Traminer '22 stood out during our tastings, being highly aromatic, yet dry and very fresh.

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