Monday, June 16, 2014

Cantina Terlano Wines of the Alto-Adige Tasting and Seminar

Klaus Gasser from Cantina Terlano was in Houston last month conducting a tasting up at Camerata for the Houston Sommelier Association. The wines he brought come from Alto-Adige in the northern part of Italy near the Dolomite Mountains in the foothills of the Alps. There is a heavy German, French and Austrian influence in the region. 
Alto-Adige is a high mountainous region which Klaus compared to Colorado. He recommends the skiing if you are traveling there in the winter. He also compares the area to Burgundy because of its diverse micro-climates imparting unique characteristics to the wine. The region is known for its aromatic whites but it can also produce rich, full body reds. The area around Terlano is warmer than other parts of the region but it still has a good diurnal range to protect the grapes' acidity.

The vineyard area ranges from about 800-3000 ft above sea level and has red quartz porphyric rocky soil with a high mineral content which is believed to give the wines their freshness. The porous soil also allows for good drainage. Warm days and cool nights complete the perfect growing conditions. 


The area has a 2,000 year history of producing wine. Terlano is the name of the winery, the village, a historic wine blend and the name of the DOC in the area. It is a very traditional wine producing area. Cantina Terlano, the winery, was founded in 1893 with a goal to produce high quality white wines for long aging. 

The white wine making style has remained the same while the approach to red wine making has become more modern. They make white wines at higher fermentation temperatures than most modern winemakers use to get more flavor. Their wine making philosophy is to use large oak casks in the German fuder style for the important whites. They typically have long yeast contact with battonage to increase creaminess, often a minimum of 10 years of yeast contact for some wines. They have some wines on the lees in stainless steel going back to 1979.

The tasting:
2012 Chardonnay- Originally, Chardonnay was known as "the yellow Pinot Bianco" and the two were fermented together. Since 1984, it has been bottled separately. Clean, fresh, citrus, mineral, medium body, long finish.
2013 Pinot Grigio- Klaus describes it as "soft, creamy and persistent". Fresh, subtle, medium body, pear with a saline minerality. Perfect with any Mediterranean cuisine.
2011 Muller-Thurgau- This is a very small production wine. Medium body, higher acidity, elegant, peach.
2012 Terlaner Classico- This historic blend takes its name from the village; it has been produced for over 120 years. It consists of 60% Pinot Bianco, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Light floral aroma, pear, minerality.
2011 Terlano "Vorberg" Pinot Bianco- Medium body, saline minerality, clean, dry finish.
2008 Andriano "Movado" Gewurztraminer- This is grown on calcerous-dolomite stone soil in a cooler area, the wine was aged in stainless steel. Full body, rich, dry, medium acidity, complex, lychee, cold cream, long finish.
2013 Lagrein Rosé- Traditionally made, pressed with a white wine fermentation. Fresh peach with strawberries. This goes with everything.
2012 Andriano "Bocado" Schiava- "This is a popular, everyday red. It is fresh, easy-drinking, not complex, a fantastic food wine," per Klaus. It is more aromatic and less pigmented. Round, moderate tannins, red cherry, light lingering finish. A good summer red.
2011 "St Magdelena" Red Blend- 95% Schiava and 5% Lagrein which gives a deeper color. Black cherry. More tannic from terroir. 


The style of the wine has changed in the last 20-30 years. "It used to be produced in a more rustic style due to a lack of phenolic ripeness." Klaus considers this to be the most important red wine from the region.
2008 "Gries" Lagrein- Spicy, black plum, bitter chocolate, long finish.
Sourced from 3 different vineyards with 40-100 year old vines. It spends 18 months in French Oak.
2010 "Porphyr" Lagrein- Amarone-like, rich, ripe with a long chewy finish.


Another great educational experience and tasting from the