Wine region / Country
Costaripa Valtènesi Groppello Maim 2016 (2 bottles)
Roeno Marzemino La Rua 2018 (2 bottles)
Kaltern Kalterersee Cl. Sup. Quintessenz 2017 (2 bottles)
Normal retail price: £86.88
Club Discount Price: £76.70
You save: £10.18 (11.71%)
But is it really worth throwing away that old heritage of native "minor" grapes? Definitely not. As often happens, in fact, the real difference between the wine of the past and that of today is not so much in the selection of varieties, as in "how" wine is made. And so we discovered that grapes downlisted too quickly and dug up, if well vinified can give sensory emotions which are not inferior to the aristocratic companions that replaced them.
Let's focus on the north-eastern Italian vineyard. Here the international grapes have generally invaded the rows. Yet the most representative Trentino red grape remains the Marzemino. The wine that Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Lorenzo Da Ponte praised as "excellent", is today considered a minor wine. And yet, although it is widespread in many districts, it is at home that the Vallagarina, between Veneto and Trentino to the east of Lake Garda, finds authentic and wonderful expressions. It has fragrances of violets, plums, small red fruits, and expresses an incomparable crisp flavour, thanks to the very fine tannins and the typical splendid performance in youth.
A little further north, towards the Valdadige, the Marzemino gives way to Schiava, in German Vernatsch. "Schiava", meaning “slave”, it seems, because this grape was once considered a "handmaid" of other, more noble wines and to which the upper part of the rows was reserved. But, if well produced, the Schiava need not have to bow down to anyone. This is demonstrated by the fact that, between Trentino and Alto Adige, some actual denominations are dedicated to this low alcohol, sparkling and versatile wine, such as Santa Maddalena and Lago di Caldaro. Once widespread throughout the North, today the Schiava, in its many varieties, occupies 16% of the South Tyrolean vineyard and is the subject of a new, and deserved, enhancement, also because it is able, at times, to sustain moderate ageing.
Even the Groppello (from "groppo", that is "knot", apparently named so because of the shape of the bunch) was once widespread. Today it is typical above all in the Brescia side of Garda, on pebbly and morainic soils kissed by an almost Mediterranean climate. It is, in fact, a classic grape for the great rosé wines of the area, but also in the red wine version... things are serious! Once used only for blending, today what is most appreciated are the delicate structure, the fragrant aromas of red fruit, spicy notes, subtle tannins and a sapid finish.
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Red. Costaripa Garda, Italy Groppello
Bottle: £19.72 club members / £22.28 non-members
This is due to the Mediterranean climate of the lake, of course, but also to the skilled hands of a generation of winemakers who owe much of their training to Vezzola. The heart of the Valtènesi di Costaripa is Moniga del Garda, halfway between Desenzano and Salò. Twenty kilometres of coastal lakes that benefit from 3000 hours of sunshine a year and breezes that perfectly regulate daily and seasonal temperature changes. In this area, which is among the most northerly in which citrus fruits can be cultivated, the subtle elegance of native vines, a mosaic of polished perfumes, is a natural fact.
Maim represents the best interpretation of the Groppello red, a native vine from the Valtènesi area (west bank of Lake Garda, today known above all for its rosé wines), which has been there since 1250. It is an engaging and refined wine, ruby red with light garnet reflections. The bouquet opens with intense aromas of violets, ripe fruit and small berries in the undergrowth; rounded in spices, it shows a balanced sensation of flint, pepper and olive wood. On the palate it reveals excellent balance with sweet and ample tannins that support the velvet and the gentleness which are typical of the variety. Excellent served with meat dishes such as the soppressa veneta, veal in walnut sauce, donkey salami, seasoned and spicy cheeses.
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Red. Roeno Vallagarina, Italy Marzemino
Bottle: £8.14 club members / £9.26 non-members
The winery, whose name derives from the combination of the initials of Rolando (Ro-) and the typical prefix referring to the world of wine (-eno), works in the narrow corridor of the middle Adige valley, where the vineyards have to find space between the river, the motorway and the railway. It is the Terradeiforti, a strip of the valley between Mount Baldo, on the Garda side, and the plateau of the Lessini mountains, the very varied soil where the family lives and which they cultivate in full respect of the ecosystem. The style of the winery is clear: wines that best respect the varietal characteristics of the grape.
This approach greatly benefits the most fragrant red grapes, such as Marzemino. A vine which has been present in Europe for centuries, the Marzemino has found its chosen environment right here in Vallagarina. Vinified and slightly aged exclusively in steel containers, it expresses a vivid ruby red colour with purplish reflections. The bouquet is delicate and intense, with a scent reminiscent of violets and small berries. Consistent with the taste, which is harmonious, with a good structure, with excellent retronasal correspondences to the fruity notes. A wine for the whole meal, it is ideal with both white and red meat dishes, and is not too aggressive.
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Red. Kaltern Kellerei Lago di Caldaro , Italy Schiava
Bottle: £10.49 club members / £11.91 non-members
A grape variety usually considered "minor", Schiava, while maintaining its characteristics of pleasantness, knows how to be like a grand lady in some South Tyrolean amphitheatres. The Lake Caldaro area is one of the best examples. And, not surprisingly, the winery has decided to place a Schiava in its upper line, Quintessenz, the result of the selection of the best grapes and the most suitable vineyards.
The Schiava Quintessenz undergoes malolactic fermentation and rests for six months in its own yeasts in concrete and wooden containers: these are the clear indicators of Kaltern's desire to ennoble the vine to a higher rank. Brilliant ruby red, it has a fruity bouquet with aromas of cherry, raspberry and strawberry, and with light hints of almond. On the palate it gives ground to a full and sapid entrance, with soft tannins that give the wine roundness and persistence. The fruity finish is harmoniously consistent with the bouquet. The perfect companion, even between meals, it goes well with appetizers and typical Tyrolean specialties such as speck and cured meats, as well as white meat and fresh cow milk cheeses.
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