Another good Italian wine tasted and reviewed in less than 500 words.
This time around, a Sauvignon Blanc from SudTirol-Alto Adige in Italy’s far north-east – the region that’s currently producing the country’s very best varietal whites.
Italy’s better-known whites – and we’re talking here about the likes of Frascati, Soave, Pinot Grigio (the world’s biggest-selling wine served by the glass), and Orvieto – are a scrappy bunch. At their best, they can be terrific – but as victims of their own popularity and reputations, too often they’re overproduced, disappointing and pale imitations of the real deal.
On the other hand, Italy’s lesser-known whites offer fantastic quality and value – especially from SudTirol-Alto Adige, which Italy acquired from Austria after World War I – a historical act which most inhabits of the region devoutly wish had never happened.
German’s still the first language and wine-makers excel in producing cool climate wines, with whites to the forefront (but some good Pinot Noir too).
This Sauvignon Blanc, from the 2015 vintage, is made by the excellent Erste + Neue co-op, based around Lake Caldaro, to the south of the town of Bolzano (which is what it’s called by the rest of Italy); or Bozen (what it’s called by people who live there).
Open it up, and you get that trademark SauvBlanc scent of “cat’s pee in a gooseberry bush” – pretty strongly actually – which has got to be the most unappealing way of describing any wine anywhere – but which is also strangely true.
But in an unlikely good way.
For me, the world’s best SauvBlancs come from New Zealand…closely followed by Chile…and this gives both a run for their money, with a greengage tartness, with – yes – gooseberries in the mix too, and an appealing grassy scent.
(Think ‘grassy’ a bit kinder than cat’s pee…)
Colour in the glass is the palest greeny-gold. Finish is long and soft, with a tingling sherbet acidity lingering on the tongue.
It’s seriously good. (Just don’t chill the life out of it.) Quite hefty too at 14.5%.
Like any good white with a bit of acidity to it, this bottle will drink perfectly with any rich, creamy food – but we paired it with a green Thai seafood curry, which was an inspired choice, with the curry’s heat actually bringing out a little touch of hitherto undetected sweetness.
(Yes, I know we’re in Italy, but sometimes you just really, really want something hot enough to make your nose run – and a Thai curry’s the only option…)
If you can’t find this particular bottle outside Italy, you’ll still find other SauvBlancs from the SudTirol-Alto Adige region and most will be excellent. (If you come across a bottle from the St Michael winery, you won’t be disappointed). We paid a little under €6 for this – which was a steal.
The region has too many good wines not to revisit in this little series – but in general isn’t yet that well-known internationally. Get in ahead of the crowd and enjoy !