Lake Adige is my passenger as I head through the Trentino region, a cooler climate in Italy, where vineyards lie among the hillsides in soil rich in dolomite limestone (70 percent, in fact) that is covered in snow during the winter --- and soil that is more fertile for growing grapes to make complex wines. The secret of harvesting on the hillside is in having good grapes to start. With muscato and pinot grigio grapes, among more, I’m in for a tasty visit.
There are 700 castles in Trentino, I am told, and as the tour bus glides onward, my gaze focuses on the peaks of the mountains, which appear translucent. I pass Lake Garda and dream of someday visiting this much-talked about beauty of an area.
Bolzano is where Schenk Italia is located, and where we stop for a tour and tasting. I am greeted by the tallest stainless steel tanks I’d ever seen --- and the cleanest wine-making facility. These tanks can hold 21,000 cases of wine, so there will be no shortage of wine.
Blending of grapes from various vineyards is what Schenk Italia is all about, and in the futuristic design of the tasting room, we begin with a Bella Sera ($10) Pinot Grigio IGT Veneto 2011. The taste is fruit forward with a low acidity from grapes grown exclusively from hillside soil. Next, a 2011 Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio IGT Venezie ($12) that offers a full nose, lots of character and a long finish. This one has a high acidity so would pair quite well with spicy foods and oysters. Pasito mas (want something more)? The 2011 Maso Canali Pinot Grigio DOC Trentino ($23) is made with grapes grown south of Trentino, close to Lake Garda. This wine is lighter on the nose than Bella Serra and Ecco Domani, with a good balance of acidity and a fruity flavor. It was made in the passimento method -- from grapes that spent one month on nets, which results in a more concentrated wine with an intense richness.
Next, a 2011 Bella Sera Moscato IGT Sicilia (screw capped) wine. I am told Moscato is the third most widely consumed wine in the U.S. of all white wines – and is prone to mutation. It offers more fruit on the nose and is fresh and sweet – an everyday wine for sweet wine lovers. I love this grape. And I’m really glad I got to enjoy the next tasting of a 2011 Ecco Domani Moscato IGT Venezia – in the blue bottle. This has more acidity and is best consumed as an aperitif, say, with pecorino or asiago cheese – even speck, the fatty ham of the area. It’s got a great minerality on the nose, which translates to a wonderful terroir, and it’s got a bit of bubble in it. It happens to have been my favorite pick of the morning.