The top 5 Sylvaners from Alto Adige selected by Gambero Rosso

Jun 11 2024, 18:09
The Sylvaner is a white grape variety originating from Germany, which finds its ideal terroir in Italy's Valle Isarco. Here are the labels that impressed us the most this year

Among Italy's wine regions, Alto Adige has certainly embarked on a serious path towards producing top-quality wines over the past few decades. This cultural shift, which began in the 1980s, shows no signs of slowing down. It is thanks to increasingly precise choices that have matched grape varieties to their most suitable terroirs, significantly reducing yields and adopting cutting-edge technologies and methods both in the vineyard and the winery. Coupled with the great spirit of collaboration that has always animated those working in the regional wine sector, success was inevitable.

Alto Adige has 5,600 hectares of vineyards, extending over a territory that varies significantly within just 40 kilometers from north to south. From the slopes of Val Venosta to the sunny hills of Bassa Atesina, from the alpine vineyards of Valle Isarco to the verdant shores of Lake Caldaro, the landscape changes dramatically, as do the climates and geological compositions of the soils. This creates a highly diverse viticultural landscape, a mosaic with countless tiles, further diversified by vineyards with different exposures, altitudes, and microclimates, often resulting in substantial differences from one village to the next.

Roughly speaking, Alto Adige’s vineyards follow the courses of the region’s two main rivers: the Adige and the Isarco. The vineyards stretch from the Alps in the northernmost part of the region to the southern foothills where the climate becomes Mediterranean. The region boasts a wide variety of grape varieties: 22 in total.

Isarco's river

Among the most renowned white wines are Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Sylvaner, Müller Thurgau, Kerner, Veltliner, and Riesling, while the reds include Pinot Nero, Lagrein, Santa Maddalena, Lago di Caldaro, Merlot, and Cabernet.

In a world like that of wine, where nothing repeats itself in exactly the same way year after year, the winemaking community of the province of Bolzano stands out for the awareness with which producers are facing new challenges. These challenges include not only climate change and market volatility but also the management of the territory, the development of its potential, and the shift from meeting customer demands to enhancing the connection between the many grape varieties cultivated and the exposures best suited to them. This renewed awareness has led smaller companies to specialize in the vocation of their vineyards, as demonstrated by urban wineries and more remote ventures in Valle Isarco. Similarly, cooperative structures reserve their best selections for the grape varieties that best adapt to their territory.

The best Sylvaners with Tre Bicchieri and Due Bicchieri Rossi Awards

Here we focus on Sylvaner, a grape variety originally from Germany, which in Italy is primarily cultivated in Valle Isarco. Here are the labels we awarded with Tre Bicchieri and Due Bicchieri Rossi in the Guida Vini d'Italia 2024.

Sylvaner R '21, Köfererhof. This classic of the denomination offers a deeply aromatic expression, with fruit on the surface gradually giving way to nuances of dried flowers, Mediterranean scrub, and initial mineral hints. On the palate, it combines richness with agility, culminating in a dry and tense finish. Günther and Gaby Kerschbaumer’s winery in Novacella stands as a benchmark for refined, crisp white wines from Valle Isarco.

Sylvaner '22, Strasserhof. A thoroughbred wine, this Sylvaner displays a rich and multifaceted nose, with the typical smoky note giving way to white fruit, citrus, and an enchanting potpourri touch. In the mouth, its salinity characterizes the sip, accompanied by a juicy and dynamic acidity. Hannes Baumgartner’s family estate, spanning less than 6 hectares, is located in the northernmost part of Valle Isarco, where vineyards rise from 680 to 750 meters in altitude.

Sylvaner '22, Taschlerhof. With clean aromas where fresh fruit meets floral and citrus notes, this Sylvaner will develop mineral notes over time. On the palate, the terroir’s strength shines through with acidic tension and verve, extending and invigorating the sip. Peter Wachtler’s estate, situated in Mara on the western side of Valle Isarco, features small vineyard plots supported by a network of dry stone walls.

Sylvaner Aristos '22, Cantina Valle Isarco. Delicate in its aromatic expression, this wine has a harmonious palate, extending into a savory and refined dry finish. The smallest cooperative in Alto Adige focuses its viticulture in Valle Isarco, with vineyards ranging from 350 to 1000 meters in altitude. The production centers on typical white varieties, with some explorations into Alto Adige classics.

Sylvaner Praepositus '21, Abbazia di Novacella. Exhibiting more complex and profound aromas, this wine offers a dynamic, savory taste with beautiful compactness. The Abbazia di Novacella winery is a major player in Valle Isarco, benefiting from both estate vineyards and collaborations with local growers. The wines highlight the freshest and most vibrant aspects of the region’s white grapes.

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