On June 27 we got a special invitation from our friends at Artisan Wine Depot.
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The following day they were sponsoring a tasting of wines from the Italian winemaker Alois Lageder. (Remember, we are wine fans from California, not just fans of California wines.) We accepted quickly and looked forward to the event with great anticipation. And we can say that Alois Lageder brings the best of Italy to California.
Urs Vetter, the company’s director of sales and marketing, was pouring tastes and talking wine. The winery is in the Dolomites about 130 km north of Verona and 182 km southeast of St. Moritz, Switzerland (see maps below). As you might expect, the town has “picturesque” written all over it. The winery is located in the heart of Italy’s Alto Adige viticultural area. If you think Italian wines begin and end with a flask-shaped bottle wrapped in straw, try these and you’ll change your mind in a hurry.
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First up was the 2010 Pinot Bianco “Haberle.” Bright straw color with a hint of green. Aromas of green apples followed by a clean, elegant flavor, and a finish redolent of mint. It was followed by the 2011 vintage “Vignetti Delle Dolomiti.” This was lighter and less acidic, more to our taste.
Urs was pouring a Müller Thurgau which we declined. Instead we moved on to the 2011 Pinot Grigio, also “Vignetti Delle Dolomiti.” The straw color with a hint of green seems to be characteristic of Alois Legeder’s whites. This wine has aromas of freshly cut flowers with a bit of spice. A terrific mouth feel, with mint and a touch of cedar smoke on the finish.
The 2012 Lagrein Rosé has aromas of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of lavender. More red fruit flavors followed by a minty finish with a bitter twist at the end.
Finally, the 2008 Pinot Noir “Krafuss” has earthy varietal aromas with a hint of tobacco and some spice. More tobacco, leather, and earth on the palate with tannins still firmly in place. Despite its age this wine should be cellared for at least another two years.
Alois Lageder was founded in 1823, reminding us of the relative youth of the U.S. wine industry compared to much of the rest of the world. The Lageder family has owned and managed the winery for five generations, with Alois Lageder IV the current CEO. Inspired by meeting Robert Mondavi in 1981, Alois experimented also with the maturation of wines in small oak barrels. Wines such as his red Cor Römigberg Cabernet Sauvignon and his white Löwengang Chardonnay created a whole new style and quality standard on the Alto Adige wine scene.
Mr. Lageder is one of the new breed of European winemakers, combining the best old world techniques with appropriate modern methods to produce great wines. We feel privileged to have tasted some of his products.