Posted by: tomciocco | August 14, 2013


In searching through my previous posts, much to my surprise, I was stunned – almost shocked – that I had never once posted about Lagrein. Well, it’s time. Lagrein (pronounced lah-GRINE) is a red grape that, despite the theory that its name is derived from the Alpine Vallagarina region in Italian-speaking Trentino, is now, and for hundreds of years has been associated with South Tyrol, the little piece of Austria awarded to Italy after WW I that lies just to the north of the Vallagarina.

This idyllic, Von Trappian mountain region is mostly planted to an array of white grape varieties like Welschriesling, Gelber Muskateller, Kerner, Silvaner, Gewurztraminer and others, and the deeply colored Lagrein and the very pale Vernatsch (a.k.a. Schiava) are the only reds that are raised there in any quantity. Not surprisingly, via recent DNA testing, it’s been determined that Lagrein is one of the parents of the slightly more renowned Teroldego vine which is native to the Piano Rotaliano just a few clicks south of Tyrol in Italophone Trentino. And if you were to compare wines made from the two varieties side by side, and you subscribed to the idea that the apple never falls far from the tree, but also that refinement increases from one generation to the next, the father/son relationship wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Both grapes produce high acid, dark-fruited spicy wines, with Lagrein being just slightly more wild and rustic all around.

But very unlike Teroldego, from which I’ve never seen a pink wine produced, Lagrein is almost as frequently made into rose wines (kretzer in German) as it is vinified into reds (dunkel), but no matter the color, this grape produces very well-structured wines, both in terms of acids and tannins, with characteristically smokey, earthy, berry fruit, and dense, solid body. These traits make Lagrein a great match for boldly flavored foods especially red meats that are smoked or grilled. So, with this in mind, I served this fairly hard-hitting red with a first course of spaetzele with a sauce of goat cheese, bacon, mushrooms, spinach and thyme, and then, as a big treat for Jen and me, venison chops with a red wine, prune, and juniper sauce with mashed potatoes on the side.














Erste + Neue Kellerei Sudtirol Alto Adige Lagrein 2011

Opaque, blackish deep purple color. Pleasantly pungent aromas of smokey blackberry, plum, and cranberry fruit supplemented by notes of cloves, dark-roast coffee beans, wet stones, and hints of black truffle and wild roses. The medium-full-bodied palate possesses a chewy texture with an angular acidity and dry, peppery tannins that frame flavors of smooth, sweet/tart black cherry syrup, strawberry preserves, bittersweet chocolate and black tea. Finishes with warmth and good length.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: