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The wines of Alois Lageder, Alto Adige, Italy

Alois Lageder, Tenuta Löwengang, I-39040 Magrè, Alto Adige, Italy
Phone: +39 0471 809500 Fax: +39 0471 809550
E-mail: info@lageder.com Website: www.lageder.com

Italy’s Alto Adige region consists of mountainous countryside just over the border from Austria, in the northeast of the country.  It’s a region where 94% of the land is over 1000 m in elevation, and from photographs (I’ve yet to visit) it appears to be spectacularly beautiful. 

Alois Lageder—a tidy, fit-looking 50-something—is considered by many to be the leading producer here. His family have been active in the local wine scene for 150 years, and currently own 17 ha of vines. They also source a substantial portion of their grapes from a network of more than 150 local growers. This is almost a necessity in a region where vineyard holdings are highly fragmented.

Lageder emphasizes the importance of respect for the soil, and aims to keep spraying to a minimum. His intention is eventually to move exclusively to organic viticulture for his own vineyards. The wines are made by Alois’ brother in law, Luis von Dellemann, in a sparkling new winery that was opened in 1996. Three quality tiers exist. First, there is the ‘classic’ series of varietal wines, then the ‘single vineyard’ selections, and at the pinnacle the ‘single estate’ wines.

The wines tasted here were from the classic and single vineyard ranges. They all share a cool-climate elegance, with subtle, bright fruit flavours. They’re quite modern in style. If you had to think of just one word to describe them, it would be ‘fresh’. Favourite for me was the brilliantly poised Sauvignon.

UK agent is Bibendum (www.bibendum-wine.co.uk), and prices given are per case, ex VAT.

Pinot Blanco 2000 Classic
Very fresh, crisp, high-acid style, but with some richness to the fruit, too. Good/very good (£71)

Chardonnay 2000 Classic
From vineyards with an elevation of 600 feet. Fresh, crisp nose with some nuttiness to the fruit and a floral edge. Light textured palate is rounded and fruity. Bright stuff. Very good (£71)

Gewürztraminer 2000 Classic
Pretty stuff. Very exotic perfumed nose with floral lychee notes. Richly textured palate shows a good density of ripe, grapey fruit. Very good/excellent (£71)

Pinot Grigio 2001 Classic (tank sample)
Slightly tanky boiled sweets nose. There’s a bit of spicy richness on the fresh palate, but this is hard to assess at this early stage. Potentially very good (£71)

Chardonnay Bucholz 2000
From a single vineyard at 1500 feet, which really is the upper limit for Chardonnay. One-third fermented in barrel, two thirds in tank. Delicate, light nose is gently lemony. The palate is fresh with fruity character and a nutty edge. There’s a touch of toastiness and spice. Very light and fresh, with high acidity. Very good (£85.50)

Pinot Bianco Haberlehof 1999
Softly nutty character to the nose. Palate is fresh and crisp, with a nutty, waxy richness. Good intensity and a touch of spice on the finish. Very good (£92.50)

Pinot Grigio Benefizium Porer 2000
A single vineyard wine, 20% barrel fermented. Youthful, with a rich, spicy nose. Delicate palate with some richness to the texture. Nice and youthful, may develop. Very good (£97)

Sauvignon Blanc Lehenhof 2000
Lovely fragrant, elegant grassy nose is very delicate. Palate is fresh, grassy and quite brightly fruited. Full of character, but still in a light style. Wonderfully poised. Very good/excellent (£115)

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Wines tasted January 2001