VALLE ISARCO or EISACKTAL or EISACKTALER DOC, white wine from the Isarco valley in Alto Adige (‘Südtirol’), Italy’s northernmost wine-growing zone (see Alto Adige DOC), a valley referred to as Eisacktaler by its German-speaking inhabitants (‘Südtirolen’). The valley forms part of the Brenner Pass, and is ‘a sweet spot of prime winegrowing land between the town of Castelrotto northeast of Bolzano and Novacella north of Bressanone,’ writes Doug Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011). The DOC dates from 1975. The wines are made from Gewürztraminer, Kerner, Müller-Thurgau and Sylvaner (see below).

ELEVATION | 400-800 metres.

SOILS | Weathered slate and gneiss, mica schist (quartz phyllite), sandy gravel.

TOWNSHIPS (‘COMUNI’) |

VINEYARD AREA | 2018 397ha (91% white, 7% red). Main white grapes: Müller Thurgau, Sylvaner, Kerner, Gewurztraminer.

WINES

GEWURZTRAMINER | As well as being made a normal white wine Gewurztraminer (‘Traminer Aromatico’) can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’ or ‘riserva’. ‘Gewürztraminer originates supposedly from the village of Tramin in the South Tirol. The grape prefers hilly terrain in cooler sites which have to be sunny and well-ventilated. The wine has a lovely bouquet of dried fruits, nutmeg and sweet spice and is rich and viscous. It will match a wide range of food: from lobster and crayfish to foie gras, gratin dishes and smoked cheese,’ writes Douyg Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011).

KERNER | Kerner works well here. As well as being made a normal white wine Kerner can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’ or ‘riserva’. ‘Tangerine and lychee and tastes of peach, apricots and honey. It’s a rare white wine that manages to achieve plenty of flavour, good texture and complexity without the aid of oak. Aromas of green apples, melons and cream, before a soft curtain of delicious acidity opens into a full-bodied white wine full of peaches and apples and citrus fruits; the tell-tale distinctions of Riesling are backed by the strong mineral and nutty textures of cool-climate Italian whites,’ writes Douyg Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011).

MÜLLER-THURGAU | As well as being made a normal white wine Müller-Thurgau can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’. Müller-Thurgau ‘reaches its literal and qualitative peak in Alto-Adige, an intensely aromatic dry wine redolent of grapefruit and angelica,’ writes Douyg Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011).

PINOT GRIGIO | As well as being made a normal white wine Pinot Grigio can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’ or ‘riserva.

RIESLING | As well as being made a normal white wine Riesling can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’ or ‘riserva.

SYLVANER | Silvaner is the best variety in Valle d’Isarco. As well as being made a normal white wine Sylvaner can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’ or ‘riserva. ‘Apricot and apple flavours are ripe and delicious. A whiff of grassiness,’ writes Douyg Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011).

VELTLINER | As well as being made a normal white wine Riesling can also be made as a ‘passito’, or ‘vendemmia tardiva’ or ‘riserva.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Burton Anderson, The Wine Atlas of Italy (Mitchell Beazley, London, 1990).

David Gleave, The Wines of Italy (Salamander Books, London, 1989).

Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Nicolas Belfrage MW, Life Beyond Lambrusco (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985)

Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Barolo to Valpolicella—The Wines of Northern Italy (Faber & Faber, 1999).

Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Brunello to Zibibbo–The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy (2nd edition, London, 2003).

Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015).