For some very good reasons I suppose, lots of folks assume that wines from hot climates are always deep and powerful, and that wines produced in more northerly latitudes (like this one) are always lighter and fresher. To be honest, it’s more true than not, but there are also lots of exceptions. Teroldego Rotaliano (Teh-ROLL-deh-go Ro-tah-lee-AH-no) is one of the exceptions.
First things first – all the names…Teroldego is the name of the grape, and Rotaliano is the name of a peculiar, dead flat plain, high in the Alpine foothills in the town of Mezzolombardo in the Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige. So how’d Rotaliano get so flat, and who cares? Well, as it turns out, the Rotaliano Plain is a pre-historically dried-up lake, giving it highly mineral-rich soil, and because it is flat, it gets the strong, high altitude sun all day long. And, with high mountains all around it helping to trap the heat, a micro-climate that can ripen grapes like a hothouse is created, but again because of the altitude, at night the temperatures drop precipitously, creating lots of fresh, crunchy acidity.
So enough of the geology and meteorology – the other half of this story is Teroldego. Teroldego, along with other varieties like Tannat, are probably more appropriately called black rather than red grapes due to the high levels of compounds called anthocyanins in their skins, and not surprisingly the climatic conditions in Rotaliano are perfect to build these pigmentation “muscles”, and consequently, some pretty deep, buff wines that are still light on their feet, fresh, and with a very polished, and stylish profile.
Unlike many red wines, Teroldego pairs quite well with thick, hearty soups, so I whipped up a barley and fennel soup with a chicken stock to start, and for the main course, a couple of browned pork chops braised with red cabbage, sage, tomato paste and wine.
Fedrizzi Cipriano “Teroldigo” Teroldego Rotaliano 2010
Deeply saturated blackish purple garnet color. Clean, modern, but still place-driven nose and pungent nose of plum, blackberry, wild mint, wood smoke, pine tar, mixed spices, and dried red flowers. In the mouth the wine is medium-full bodied and juicy, with a very smooth and chewy texture, and clean flavors of black cherry, cranberry, and mulberry fruit, as well as mushroom, graphite, toasted walnuts, and a touch of ultra-ripe cantaloupe(!). Tartly dry, meaty finish.