Even for the keenest Australian fans of European wines, the northern Italian region of Trentino often remains a mystery thanks to the absence of classic names such as Barolo, Amarone Valpolicella, Chianti or Brunello, and lacking the kudos of Piedmont and Tuscany.
But for anyone who has been there it is impossible to forget Trentino’s sheer beauty thanks to its rolling hills against a backdrop of alpine slopes up to almost 4000 metres in altitude including some of Italy’s best ski fields, which is also a distinctive influence on the local wines. While lacking the power, richness and ageworthiness of Italian classics, Trentino showcases an elegant and refined side to the wines from Italy.
The key to the wines of Trentino is the Italian Alps, which help to make the local wine regions some of the coolest in Italy. You don’t find the classic varieties such as Nebbiolo, Barbera and Sangiovese here as they simply won’t ripen. Instead Trentino is in some ways a home away from home for French varietals. Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir (known here as Pinot Nero) from Trentino can be exquisite and some of the best in the country, especially from smaller, boutique producers. Trentino is also not a place for broad scale viticulture with vineyards often couched among orchards, all of which have been tended by the same families for generations.
Trentino also has a rich history with local grape varieties. Lagrein, Teroldego, Nosiola and Marzemino are still treasured by locals thanks to their history and food friendly style, the tannic Lagrein in particular a standout for slow cooked meat dishes. Food matching though is a common thread among all the wines from Trentino. They are not big, showy wines but come into their own when matched with local dishes.
Trentino differs a little from much of Italy with the area broken into larger generic appellations as opposed to the village-based and varietally focussed regions seen in much of Italy. Most of the best wines are found in three key areas:
Trento DOC: Sparkling wines made using traditional bottle fermentation made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco) and Pinot Meunier.
Trentino DOC: A large, catchall appellation for blended and varietal wines made from both local and international varietals.
Teroldego Rotaliano DOC: Teroldego grown in a small, uniquely warm part of Trentino where the Adige and Noce rivers meet.
As a part of Good Food Month 2022, Sydney Italian dining institution Buon Ricordo are holding a special event to showcase the wines from Trentino on Wednesday January 19. Owner and chef David Wright has crafted a menu including four courses of Trentino classics to match with seven wines which offer a superb introduction to the much underrated wines of the region. More details are available here.
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