Preparing the kitchen garden, next to the vines at Pranzegg.

Pranzegg - Beautiful Wines from the Alto Adige

For a long time we’ve been tasting Lagrein and Schiava, the two key reds of the Alto Adige, just to see, in a fairly idle manner, if we could find any that we thought were as good as Nusserhof’s. Some are certainly good wines, but none have shown anything like the purity of Hans Mayr’s wines at Nusserhof.

And then, after a long day’s slog at VinItaly, we made the beautiful discovery of Pranzegg. This is Martin Gojer’s family vineyard; now 35, he took over in 2008 and began converting to biodynamic farming (Martin has also worked for Simonit & Sirch, widely held to be the most progressive vine management theorists and consultants in Italy). In short, we were amazed by the wines. It was the last day of VinItaly, and we cancelled our plans for the following day so that we could visit Pranzegg – we really wanted to see the place and taste the wine away from the craziness of the fair.

Even on a damp and chilly early spring day (you can read the season by the forsythia and the flowering fruit tree in the first picture) the vineyard we visited was beautiful, with terraced vines perched on a steep hillside above the city of Bolzano. The vines are least 50 years old, many quite a bit older. They are trained in the classic local pergola, growing up and out over a wire trellis; this system offers the fruit good protection from the sun – it’s surprisingly hot in the summer in the Alto Adige – and thus a long season to ripen.

Looking downhill at the Adige river and Bolzano. In the top left, the yellow house and vineyard is Nusserhof.

There are no big surprises in the cellar at Pranzegg: some inclusion of stems depending on the year, indigenous yeast fermentations in stainless steel, aging in used wood of various sizes, no fining or filtration, and very low levels of SO2. We tasted a dozen wines – different vintages, various cuvees – and we left Pranzegg more excited than ever. The wines are indeed really special, showing varietal typicity, precision, real character, terrific energy and purity. Jamie Wolff

Pranzegg 2012 Mitterberg Schiava / Vernatsch Campill

We love Schiava (also called Vernatsch in the Alto Adige, and  Trollinger in Germany and Austria) for its light and easy-drinking character. At the same time it reminds us of a hypothetical wild mountain cousin of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir, hinting at a more important structure and complexity beneath the surface of pretty color and fruit. This one delivers much more –the result of great biodynamic fruit, and a long slow fermentation and maceration. It’s unmistakably Schiava, but there is a depth and complexity to the wine that we haven’t found elsewhere (excepting Nusserhof), and despite the typically light color of the wine, the delicious cranberry fruit, the cut and lift present, there is a core that suggests much more. You can have your fun and think about it too! Jamie Wolff

  • red
  • 28 in stock
  • $29.99

Pranzegg 2012 Mitterberg Lagrein Quirein

Good Lagrein can remind us of northern Rhone Syrah, perhaps usually higher in acid and a bit more rustic. This one immediately made me think of Cornas, rich but with good acidity, earthy and mineral but with real elegance, a bit of meatiness, and olive and black cherry. It is altogether a remarkable expression of Lagrein, fine to drink now but likely even better after another couple of years. Jamie Wolff

  • red
  • 32 in stock
  • $34.99

Pranzegg 2013 Vino Bianco Caroline

We don’t often fall for white wines that are blends, but this is a distinctive and quite fascinating wine, made from Manzoni Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Wild flower, and a big whiff of Viognier. Appealing waxy texture and very mineral body. Exotic fruit; kaffir lime. Surprising acidity for such a rich wine. Long lingering finish - doesn't show oak, but has a lingering toasty character. John Rankin

  • white
  • 7 in stock
  • $34.99

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