SCHIAVA [ski-YAva] / (aka VERNATSCH, aka TROLLINGER)
This is actually the most widely planted grape in Alto Adige, despite the fact that the overall percent produced favors white over red 60:40. Only recently have single varietal Schiavas made it stateside, versus just consumed locally. Could Americans be interested in this tart and light bodied red? A few delicious wines from the St. Magdalener DOC wines have helped pave the way – always Schiava but with a small amount of Lagrein (inky dark native grape) blended in for color and backbone. Schiava is the Italian for ‘slave,’ maybe from the high yields that the vines carry, but local producers use the vernacular “Vernatsch,” and Germans call it ‘Tyrolinger’ (from the Tyrol) confirming its native roots. Viva Schiava!
LAGREIN [la-GRAIN] or [lah-GRINE]
In 1526 there was a revolt led by local farmers against the nobles and the church in order to expand their rights, most importantly, to be allowed to drink Lagrein. Lagrein is an exception to many alpine reds which can run pale and lean- Lagrein takes on much darker coloring but still maintains light body, high tannin and pronounced acidity. It is a grape that loves as much sunshine as possible- although that sounds like it’s perhaps in the wrong place, Lagrein is a native at home in the mountains and tends to get finicky when grown elsewhere. Truly, a grape variety worth fighting for.