Week 3 - Weingut Niklas Lagrein 2013
Welcome all to the third instalment of Weekly Weird & Wonderful Wines.
For this week I have chosen an elegant red variety that is little known outside it's native area in the Tyrol Valley that connects Northern Italy and Southern Austria.
Bringing a classic grape in it's homeland, out onto the world stage.
Presenting this weeks wine:
Weingut Niklas Lagrein 2013
Category: Vino Incognitus
Wine Makeup: 100% Lagrein
Origins: Lagrein's origins are all held within it's native region of the Tyrol Valley, which today is most contained within the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region of Northern Italy.
Within the valley the oldest records come from the 17th century, held at the Muri-Gries Abbey near the city of Bolzano.
DNA analysis has confirmed Lagrein to be a descendent of another ancient grape of the area named Teroldego, which in itself is a sibling to one of the parent grapes of Syrah : Dureza.
While this may sound confusing, this makes Lagrein effectively a cousin of Syrah.
Region: The Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region of Italy is a mountainous region within both the Southern Alps and the Dolomites, with a complex geographic and historical influences.
Steep slopes lead to low yields and high acidity in many of the grapes.
The area is noted to have made wine in periods before the influences of the Romans became apparent. For long periods of history the region was ruled first by the Holy Roman Empire and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire which leads to many of the grape varieties having both German and Italian names, just the region itself.
Producer: Weingut Niklas is a family winery run by three generations of the Sölva family. Several of the are vineyards set against the stunning Lake Keltern in one of the most picturesque wine villages in Italy.
Tasting a proper Lagrein from South Tyrol was an intriguing experience as the wines are seldom available outside of Europe, and so running into this one at my local was quite the surprise. (The list there is curated however by a Master of Wine, so oddities do show up frequently).
Stylistically, I'd say this wine manages to achieve a subtle balance somewhere between the humble, relaxed atmosphere of this small wine village, and the soaring elegance of the Alps themselves.
The fruit is so restrained and calm it reminds me of the local artists that depict the area, where magnificent scenery is painted slowly with humble hands, still stained with the rigours of the day spent tending the vines.
A delicate skeletal system of tannins manages to frame the body of the wine in a way that simulates the jagged, peaks in the distance that pierce the sky itself.
The wonderful thing about this Lagrein is that it still manages to keep it's simple undertones, and was as easy drinking young, as it is when tasted with a few years of extra age.
To learn more about Lagrein and South Tyrol, head to Weingut Niklas