Kofererhof, Riesling Alto Adige, Valle Isarco DOC, 2012
Our geographical and cultural focus for October places us at the Northern-most local of the Italian nation. Brunico, a small town of roughly 15,000 people is only 17 miles south of the Italian-Austrian border in the Alto Adige region. Seated in a Dolomite valley, surrounded by the Alps, Brunico is the perfect place to experience the Teutonic, alpine culture that characterizes this part of Italy. Here you will hear German spoken, and dine on cuisine informed by German, Austrian and Swiss tradition.
Brunico (Brunek in German), more so than Balzano, the capital of Alto Adige, retains a native purity in look and feel to its medieval origins. At the town’s center is Brunico Castle built in the latter half of the 13th century when the town was established by Bishop Bruno von Kirchberg.
Until the end of World War One, the Alto Adige was politically, economically and culturally a part of the German-speaking territories to the north. Following WWI, in 1948, the lands and people of the Alto Adige were incorporated into the Italian nation.
As one might imagine, citizens of the Alto Adige have their own unique sense of identity. They are, after all, German speaking Italians, with feet planted firmly in two cultures. In fact they have formed their own political party, the Sudtiroler Volkspartei, for representation in the Italian Parliament in Rome.
Geographically the Alto Adige is characterized by mountains that reach heights greater than 10,000 feet, and valleys that lie in between. On the fertile plains of the River Adige and the smaller rivers that flow into it grow rye, wheat, maize, oats, barley; on the lower hills and slopes of the mountains cattle are raised for meat and dairy products; on the steeper slopes of the Dolomites fruit trees, mountain herbs and grape vines abound.
The viticulture of the Alto Adige is informed by the region’s alpine terrain and climate. Grapevines growing at heights of 500 to 1,200 meters above sea level on south facing slopes, have the luxury of a long season in which to mature, where the days are sunny and the nights cool. The soil of these steep slopes is of morainic gravel, silt and sand deposited by the glaciers that carved out the mountains millions of years ago. This type of soil drains well and encourages the vine roots to venture deep into the ground for mineral nutrients.
The Kofererhof Riesling that we have chosen to feature on our quartino list this month is a fine example of the precise, aromatic, mineral wines that are made in the Alto Adige.
The Kofererhof vineyards are located about 14 miles southeast of Brunico, in the Valle Isarco. The estate was established many hundreds of years ago, and acquired by the current owners, the Kerschbaumer family, in 1940. From 1940 through 1995 the grapes grown on the estate were sold to local winemakers. In 1995 the family began to produce and bottle its own wines from estate grown Sylvaner, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Muller-Thurgau and Riesling.
The 2012 Kofererhof Riesling has a delicate fragrance of white flowers and light herbs. On the palette it has substantial weight, with notes of jasmine and light honeysuckle that are counter-balanced by lime and light spice.
Gunther Kerschbaumer, proprietor and winemaker, makes his wines with great care. He employs farming practices of low environmental impact, hand harvests the grapes, and pays special attention to the nuances that can be imparted to his wines through astute timing of his harvests.
In the case of the 2012 Riesling, he has chosen to harvest the grapes at two distinct times—50% were harvested at full maturation in late October and 50% were “late-harvested” two weeks later in November in order to capture a slightly more intense, viscous, concentrated quality in the fruit. The two harvests are fermented and aged separately, and then blended to create the 2012 Riesling.
We invite you to partake in a Northern Italian, Alpine culinary experience of our regional pasta of the month—the Gnudi Alpini, swiss chard and goat cheese dumplings in brown butter, paired with the 2012 Kofererhof Riesling Valle Isarco from the Alto Adige.