After a full morning’s tasting we were having a well-earned lunch at Sartori in Lavis, in the magical mountain kingdom of Trentino. We were discussing whether to head straight to Piedmont or try to cram in another visit. Giorgio spotted something on the list, a Lagrein by Rottensteiner. We were gently keeping our eyes open for a Lagrein on this trip. Lagrein is usually a light to medium-bodied red wine peculiar to Trentino and Alto Adige. Its father is Teroldego (another local grape) and some people say it is distantly related to Syrah or Pinot Noir. Giorgio had a dim recollection of hearing about Rottensteiner. The bottle was ordered. It was very good – fuller and deeper than the grapey examples we had come across so far. So, instead of turning south back down the valley, we turned north to Bolzano, not far from the Brenner Pass and the Austrian border.
Hannes Rottensteiner is the son at the helm of the winery. He sounds German, speaks German but, as he explains, Bolzano is still in Italy. Hannes’ grandfather started the winery in 1956 and all the family is involved – mother Rosa, father Toni, Hannes and his sister Evi. The biggest influence on the wine is the red porphyr rock that the vines grow on and which add to the exotic spiciness in the wines.
Hannes studied Oenology firstly locally at San Michele, then Geisenheim in the Rheingau in Germany, then Udine in Friuli and now makes the wine with his father. It’s a wide range of wines. Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Pinot Grigio, Muller-Thurgau (the most impressive we have tasted so far), dry Gewurztraminer and Goldmuskateller form the range of whites. In the reds he offers Edelvernatsch (also known as Schiava in Italian and Trollinger in German), Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir), Lagrein and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenière. It’s an impressive range and half of their output gets no further that the Bolzano city limits. The rest is sold to visitors, some restaurants around Italy and now us.