When I heard about the Simply Italian US Wine Tour, I geared up for tasting the many interesting indigenous varietals. Alas, while there were quite a few varietal wines, many were the ubiquitous cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio. While perusing the tables, a friend happened to mention that way in the back corner of the room was a wonderful little wine from the Teroldego grape. Having made wine from this grape gathered from research plots in Mendocino County during my stint as a Viticulture Research Assistant, I weaved my way through the throngs with outstretched wine glass.
Teroldego (ter-OHL-de-go) is a red grape variety from the Trentino-Alto-Adige region. The name derives from a system of wire trellises known as “tirelle” which is a much less romantic, but more plausible explanation for its origin than “Tiroler”, or “gold of Tirol”, as it was known.
A uniquely Italian varietal, thanks to DNA research, we now know that it is related to Syrah. Perhaps that would explain, in part, the rich ruby often purple-hued color of its wines. When young, Teroldego exhibits a lively, fruity character with approachable tannins and a refreshing acidity. Add a little oak and you have complemented the rich black fruits of blackberry and black cherry with attractive spices.
All of these characteristics were evident as I tasted my way through the three wines from producer Endrizzi, a winery celebrating its 125th anniversary in a region that proudly displays its region’s appellation on the labels. The Teroldego Rotaliano DOC Tradizione delighted my senses with its immediately appealing fruity aromas of ripe raspberries and blackberries and a fresh spiciness. Fifty percent of the wine was aged in 7,000-8,000-liter casks called Boti. Forty-year old vines went into the Teroldego Rotaliano DOC Riserva which were planted at 600 m (1,800 ft). Aged for one year in 2-3 year-old barriques, the wine’s appearance displayed a deep ruby color. The fruit aromas of plum and blackberry were enticingly intertwined with a spiciness that added to its complexity. Flavorful, mouthwatering with rounded tannins, I could eat this with my osso bucco!
Finally, the Gran Masetto, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT. Similar to an Amarone, grapes used in this wine were dried for 1-2 months; specifically, the top third of the bunches were used in the drying process while the bottom third were vinified as usual. The remaining portion was late harvested. Noticeably more extracted than her siblings, the Gran Massetto’s aromas had the distinctive sweet raisin quality along with spicy cherries. Again, smooth and attractive tannins, medium + acidity, well-balanced. This is what I love about the quality-minded producers, the presence but balanced approach to oak. In this case, 2-3 year-old, lightly-toasted barrels from Alliers.