Posted by: tomciocco | October 6, 2014

WHETHER SPELLED WITH ONE “T” OR TWO, BLAT(T)ERLE HAS DODGED A BULLET

The old world is rife wine grape varieties that are at least threatened and all the way up to no longer commercially cultivated and bottled and all but extinct, and there may be no place that contains more of these endangered varieities than Italy. Unfortunately but understandably, the cases in which the battle to save and revive these rare vines has been lost never make “the news”. Thankfully there are lots of success stories in this arena too – grapes like Arneis, Timorasso, Casavecchia, and Pugnitello come to mind, but then there are grape varieities like Blatterle that I (and almost no one else either) never knew existed in the first place that have been brought back from the brink of the abyss but are still struggling to find a community of growers (not just one champion) and a market to continue its advance.

Blatterle, whose name means “little leaf” (which is spelled “Blaterle” on the label of this wine, apparently to skirt regulations that do not permit it to be bottled unblended) is a white grape variety that has been grown in and around the small city of Bolzano (Bozen in German – the city, and the entire Sudtirol region is culturally Austrian and was once part of Austria) since ancient times. Traditionally, this grape, which thrives only in the local deep alluvial and porphyrian soils, was used to make either sweet grape juice or very light and easy-drinking wines. The Mayr family of Weingut Nusserhof, who are for all intents and purposes the only ones really carrying the flag for Blatterle and actually putting their money where their mouths are by actually producing a wine exclusively from it, believed that their particular warm and sunny south-facing plantings of the grape coupled with some drastic reductions in harvest yields could result in a truly fine wine, and I’m glad to report that their hunch was right.

Much more than this I can’t say about this wine, because to be perfectly honest, until I saw the bottle on the shelf in the shop where I bought it, I had never even heard of Blatterle much less tasted it, but notwithstanding, I’m very glad I did both. As always, full tasting notes appear below, but from what I could glean from the bit of research I did, this is a grape that tends to yield richer, fuller-bodied wines with only moderate acidity levels with a typical range of flavors that include wild herbs, yellow drupes, honey and Alpine flowers. So with this in mind, but with the wine as yet unsampled, I matched it with a first course of canederli al formaggio (bread, pancetta and chive dumplings in a gorgonzola sauce spiced with nutmeg) followed by baked green apples stuffed with ground pork, mushrooms, a banana pepper, and onions all bound together with a thick bechamel, nestled in a casserole with melted cabbage with wine, garlic and savory which became the side.

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Nusserhof Blaterle 2010

Slightly greenish bright light golden color. Expressive nose of lemon oil, green melon, yellow cherry, kerosene, vanilla bean, flint, and pine oil, In the mouth the wine is full-bodied, chewy, and quite unctuous but still fresh with slightly buttery flavors of apricots, pear, white currants, and white pepper. Very long finish. Gets better and better as it airs out. A distinctive and very well made wine.

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