Pranzegg - Beautiful Wines from the Alto Adige

 9/3/15 -

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

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

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