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Lagrein wine is the most important premium red wine of Alto Adige. It’s famous for its deep ruby colour, as the grape has the Italy’s highest level of anthocyanins – a specific type of tannins responsible for the red-blue hue. In German, red Lagrein is called “dunkel” (dark). Lagrein is Alto Adige’s ancient native varietal, first mentioned in government edicts in 1097. Back in the day, Lagrein was the wine to crave. Ian D’Agata writes that, in 1526, the simple folk in Alto Adige revolted because the nobles kept all the Lagrein for themselves – which didn’t go down that well.
Lagrein is late-ripening, and it needs a lot of sunshine. This grape found the perfect home in the valley around Bolzano. Here the soil is warm, rich in gravel with pockets of sand and volcanic porphyry. In summer, the surrounding mountains capture a lot of heat. Lagrein used to be known for its bitterness. But today’s winemakers are able to control it with cold fermentation and long oak maturation. Today Lagrein wine is smooth, bold and velvety, with a pleasant bitter note.
With around 500 hectares under vine, Lagrein is the second-most popular red grape in Alto Adige. But its plantings in Italy are really tiny, around 100 times smaller than Sangiovese (MiPAAF). Only 3.6 million bottles of Lagrein wine are made every year (Consorzio).
What does Lagrein wine taste like? It’s full-bodied, dark and powerful. Lagrein wine is packed with flavours of dark berry fruits, violets flower, chocolate and spices. It’s high in tannins and acidity, sometimes with a touch of bitterness.
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