Postcard from the Alto Adige

No, I’m not in Hawaii, this is San Giuseppe al Lago in the southern Alto Adige.  The Bassa Atesina is the largest and warmest of Alto Adige’s seven viticultural zones.  It seems incongruous that we would be eating lunch outside in the foothills of the Alps, but the region gets warm influences from warm winds coming off Lake Garda to the southwest.  As the crow flies, it is about 40 miles away. 

In the morning, we stopped in Termeno, the home of the aromatic gewürztraminer.  In the Alto Adige, gewürztraminer is more spicy and somewhat drier than the floral wines made in Alsace.  In the afternoon, we visited the town of Bolzano.  While the Bassa Atesina is the warmest zone, the town of Bolzano is the warmest city given its sheltered location just south of the mountain where the Adige river parts to the west.  The leading red wine in the area is an indigenous grape called Lagrein which ripens well in the warm, gravelly soils of the Bolzano basin.  It is a thick-skinned variety with deep color, black fruit, fresh acidity and sweet tannins.