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Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Love Italian Travel - Wine Touring In Trentino-Alto Adige

Trento, Trentino Alto Adige, ItaliaImage via WikipediaSo you are planning a visit to Trentino-Alto Adige, a region of northeastern Italy bordering Switzerland and Austria that features the Alps and the Dolomites. Ski resorts abound as do forests. Most residents of Alto Adige designate German as their mother tongue. Let's start at Caldaro in the southwest of Alto Adige. Its town center hosts and the historic Church of Santa Caterina in the center of Caldaro; it's also home to a beautiful lake and the Museo Provinciale del Vino. Naturno is home to the Seventh Century Church of San Procolo whose ancient frescoes are among the oldest in the German-speaking world. Nearby you'll find the Thirteenth Century Castel Juval. Merano, sometimes called the city of flowers, boasts many beautiful promenades. The famous Cure Promenade splits into two, the shady Passeggiata d'Estate (Summer Promenade) and the sunny Passeggiata d'Inverno (Winter Promenade). If you're in the neighborhood be sure to see its Christmas Market. The local capital Bolzano (Bozen) has a fine Gothic cathedral, other churches worth visiting, as is South Tyrol Archeological Museum whose star attraction is Oetzi, the more than five thousand year old iceman. There's a strada del vino (Weinstrasse-wine route) that runs mostly in Alto Adige from Salarno to Bolzano.

Trentino has many sights to see including Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra (Italian Historical War Museum) in Roverto. Its capital, Trento, was the site of the historic Council of Trent that shaped the Church in the Sixteenth Century and is home to many classical churches. Don't miss the fresco collection at the Museo Provinciale d'Arte (Provincial Art Museum) situated in the Castello del Buonconsiglio (Castle of Good Counsel). Madonna di Campiglio advertises itself as Italy's number one ski resort.

The region is not home to any DOCG wines and few of the DOC wines stand out from the others. Despite being so far north, this region still produces more red than white wine. Regional wine classification is different from most of the rest of Italy. The Alto Adige DOC includes dozens and dozens of grape varieties and styles. Trentino and Alto Adige share only two designations. It's fair to say that you can't pick a wine on the basis of its name. But isn't that often the case elsewhere in Italy, and around the world?

Grape varieties abound. Let's start with the whites. Gewuerztraminer may have first come from in the Alto Adige town of Termeno (Tramin). Pinot Bianco is important as is Sauvignon Blanc often called Sauvignon. The popular German Mueller-Thurgau does quite well in Trentino. Try to find Nosiola, a Trentino native. The major local red is Schiava (Vernatsch) in both Trentino and Alto Adige. Other important local Trentino varieties include Teroldego and Marzemino. Alto Adige's second most popular local red grape is Lagrein. The popular international red grapes are Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot which are also grown in Trentino. My apologies for the relative complexity of the region wine scenes.

Companies selling regional wine tours include Prime Italy, Vineria, Wine Tour Italia, and Alabaster and Clark Wine Tours Worldwide. Some of the regional wineries accepting visitors include Pojer e Sandri in Faedo, Tiefenbrunner in Bolzano, and Cantina Produttori Valle Isarco in Chiusa. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some of these places may charge admission; others may expect that you purchase some of their products.

Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his wine website with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.

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