Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teroldego - A Big and Beautiful Italian Red

Vineyards in the Valle dell'Adige, Trentino Italy

The Trentino-Alto Adige Region of Italy

I recently attended a tasting event for the wines of Trentino, a province and wine making region located in the far north-east of Italy. While the area is known for producing outstanding white wines, and I tasted several, the highlight for me were the Teroldego wines. That is to say, the red wines made with the Teroldego grape. I hadn't experienced many of these before, or hadn't paid attention, but on this occasion I was impressed with the class and stature that they showed. As one who loves solid Italian reds, Brunello, Barolo, Amarone, etc. Teroldego was a natural addition to my shopping list. The examples I tasted showed chiseled power, with finessed nuances, distinct character, and good levels of complexity.
The Grape
The Teroldego grape is cultivated in Trentino-Alto Adige, and pretty much nowhere else. Typically it has solid, dark fruit, good acidity, and a bit of chewiness, along with plenty of strength and structure underneath.
Below are a few examples, tasted at the Trentino event, and elsewhere.
Paolo Endrici with his Gran Masetto

Endrizzi Gran Masetto 2009  IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti
(15% ABV)
The Gran Masetto is fairly unique in its production method. As Paolo Endrici explained, 50% of the juice comes from a select vineyard, Masetto, where a careful green harvest, and thinning of the leaves takes place several times during the summer to ensure even ripeness. The Masseto grapes are harvested late and then dried for three months until a third of the water has been removed, then they are crushed. The other 50% comes from the communes of Mezzolombardo and Mezzocorona, with the grapes being harvested, and vinified, more typically. The two are combined to make one of the more unusual and impressive versions of Teroldego. My thanks to Paolo who shared his wine, and knowledge generously.

Tasting note: On the nose there is excellent complexity with earthy black cherry and spiced strawberry jam, aromatic wood and leather notes accent the fruit, along with a subtle perfume. The first thing I noticed on the palate was the texture, a fine chewy-ness. This is combined with more spiced strawberry, some dark cherry and brambles. The jamminess is beautifully balanced by good acidity, really making this both serious and easy to drink. The finish shows a nice balance of components, with easy tannins and good length. Robust and complex, it leaves you wanting more. A personal favorite. 92 Pts

Nusserhof "T......." (Teroldego)  Vino Rosso, L10 (2010) Erzeugerabfullung (Estate Bottled), Heinrich Mayr  13% ABV

This one is certainly its own wine; quite unusual in many respects. To start, the label does not state that this is Teroldego, but rather uses the description "T........". One source suggests that this is perhaps intended to avoid Teroldego Rotaliano DOC rules, although the grapes aren't grown whithin the DOC zone, so I'm not so sure about that theory . Teroldego is a very small portion of the grape crop at Nusserhof; they produce much more Lagrein and Blatterle, other native grapes of Trentino.The winery is certified organic. The 2010 starts off on the nose with finessed aromatic blackberry and violet notes. Underneath there is good earthy support. The palate is where the real distinction takes place for this wine, as it presents a very savory character showing beef broth, tangy black pepper, olives, and very subtle black cherry / cranberry fruit. The finish shows good structure with subtle tannins and acidity, and dried herbs trailing off. 86Pts  $30.

 Roeno Teroldego Vallagarina "I Dossi " 2010, 12% ABV, $15

Perfumed black fruit notes are the first impression on the nose, with black cherry skins and dusty violets. At the core there is a subtle earthy richness and a bit of funky earth. Fresh and dark at the same time. The palate shows lean blackberry fruit, charcoal, and shale, with a fine grained texture. The acidity is understated, but present, and the tannins are subtle and easy. With time, a faint suggestion of dark chocolate comes out.

It’s interesting how this wine presents as being firm overall, without the structural components standing out. I think it’s the overall dark character of the fruit that drives this, and is key to the satisfaction. I Dossi is the single vineyard from which this wine is sourced.
NEXT DAY... This wine really passed the “Overnight Test” with flying colors. After  24 hours, in an open bottle, the last glass continued to show nice aromatic fruit, along with a little more chocolate. Still complex, and fresh. Impressive. 90 Pts

Cantina Rotaliana Manuella Giovanni, Teroldego Rotaliano Clesurae, 2009 14% ABV, $30
Elegant perfumed nose with roasted black cherry, subtle floral notes, and flinty earth. The palate is dense and well structured with violets, black cherry, black berry liquor, and a bit of 75% cacao dark chocolate. Elegant with a powerful foundation. From 50 year old vines, aged in french oak for 24 months. 88 Pts.

You can learn more about the Trentino region and its wines at the Visit Trentino Web Site.


  1. Oakland CA winery, Urban Legend, makes a Teroldego that I have had a bottle of and have a couple in my cellar. I was told it is a precursor of Syrah and it tastes like it.

  2. Good point Steve. It is actually related to Syrah, specifically by its relationship to Dureza, which is a parent of Syrah along with Mondeuse blanche. I see the resemblance too.