The Trentino-Alto Adige is one the two hyphenated regions of Italy, the other being Emilia-Romagna. As opposed to the latter, the former is a hyphenation of two distinctly different regions, based as much on spoken language as culture.
The Alto Adige, translated from Italian as the “upper Adige River”, is more known locally as the Südtirol, German for southern Tyrol. Prior to WWI this area had been part of Austria, and its people remain defiantly germanic. The Trentino, further south, gets its name from the city of Trento. Slightly north from Trento the Noce stream meanders into the Adige River over an alluvial plain called the Campo Rotaliano, between the towns of Mezzolombardo and Mezzocorona. The Campo Rotaliano is visually a very dramatic area. Created by a glacier, it is surrounded by cliffs that trap the warm breezes that waft up the Adige River Valley from Lake Garda, it is on this plain that the teroldego grape finds its greatest expression.
The teroldego grape most probably came into these parts from the hills north of Verona further down the Adige where it was known as teroldico. There are still a few vineyards left in the Valpolicella region, most notably from the Marion winery, who bottles a monovarietal wine which is labelled “Teroldego,” a concession to the success of the varietal to the north in the Campo Rotaliano.
Teroldego wine (pronounced with the stress on the 2nd syllable, not the penultimate, as is usual in Italian) is immensely satisfying. Usually of medium-rich texture, it has good acidity and length with moderate, soft tannins that make it highly versatile with a wide array of foods. Flavors and aromas of forest floor and “frutti di bosco” (forest berries) have good persistence and freshness even years after harvest.
There are only a handful of producers on the Campo Rotaliano, yet no one has quite earned the international recognition of Elisabetta Foradori. Elisabetta’s father passed unexpectedly in 1985, leaving her and her mother to tend to the vines and cellar. Today she is considered not only a top winemaker not only in the Trentino, but in all of Italy. She currently produces a delicious white wine from Sauvignon and Incrocio Manzoni called “Myrto,” a DOCG Teroldego Rotaliano, and her flagship bottling, “Granato,” also 100% Teroldego, but for this bottling she lately has preferred the IGT designation of “Vigneti delle Dolomiti.” Granato is widely considered among the top two or three finest wines of the entire Trentino.
There are other producers worth looking for who make wine from the Campo Rotaliano, some easier to find than others. The Roberto Zeni winery has a reliable Teroldego, as does the Cantina Rotaliana. Others I see around less who are highly regarded are the Barone de Cles, Donati and Dorigati.
Teroldego’s acidity and rich, soft fruit are terrific with our braised veal breast. The fruit marries terrifically with the smoky depth of flavor provided by the speck while the acidity gives the wine its penetrating flavors to work through the braised richness of the meat.
I encourage you on your next visit to ask one of our sommeliers for guidance on selecting an example of this unique and quite rare varietal.