After a week of fun in Rome, we borrowed Stefano’s brother Marco’s Toyota RAV4 and headed north, for a spectacular, 6-day tour of northern Italy. Our itinerary included tours of 4 wineries, each distinct and unique from one another, but all 4 producers of some of Italy’s best wine, and excellent examples of Italian hospitality.
Our first stop was in Trentino-Alto Adige. Located in the Dolomite mountains on the border with Austria, this region, also known as Trentino South Tyrol, is heavily influences by its Austrian-Hungarian roots. We stayed in a tiny city called Cortaccia, located along a road called La strada del vino, or the road of wine. Even though we were still in Italy, this area was culturally much more German than Italian; many people we encountered were bilingual, but at our hotel we had to resort to English on several occasions because the German-speaking staff did not speak Italian.
Nonetheless,we were welcomed and well-treated at the Turmhotel Schwarz-Adler. The morning view from the balcony off of our room was lovely, and the boys enjoyed the swimming pool with its view of the mountains in the distance.
Just down the winding mountain road from Cortaccia is a sleepy little town called Magrè. One would never suspect that it is home to the Alois Lageder winery, a sophisticated wine production facility designed in accordance with sustainable and ecological building practices.
We arrived in Magrè and even though the village it tiny, had to ask a local where the winery was. Nothing about the town suggests that it is home to such a modern production facility. However, Paolo our host walked us through the archway into the Löwengang estate, and we discovered a beautiful wine-producing complex. The office space has a remarkable ceiling system that allows sunlight and cool mountain air to penetrate the space. Commissioned artwork fills the walls and the open spaces, the most notable a permanent exhibit of three large, square glass containers containing the soils and plants of the three primary microclimates that produce the grapes used to make Lageder wines.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Lageder winery is how the vinification facility was designed to leverage the force of gravity in the handling of the grapes, must and wine, to render the winemaking process as efficient, gentle and ecological as possible. This was done through a 17-meter tall vinification tower located at the heart of our winemaking facilities. Grapes are deposited into the top of the tower, and are cellared in free fall, with gravity pulling the must down into tanks below without the use of pumps or other mechanical transport systems.
Two labels make up the portfolio of Lageder wines. The Alois Lageder label includes wines made partly from grapes grown in Lageder biodynamically farmed vineyards, but predominantly from grapes purchased from local growers. The Tenutæ Lageder wines are made entirely from grapes that are grown in the Lageder estate vineyards, which are all biodynamically farmed. Lageder produces an unusually high number of wines, mostly whites such as Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, but their Pinot Nero is notable, as well.
At the end of our tour, Paolo guided us through a tasting of nearly 20 of those wines and came home with a 2009 LEHEN Sauvignon, a 2011 BETA DELTA Chardonnay – Pinot Grigio, a 2008 KRAFUSS Pinot Noir, and a 2000 COR RÖMIGBERG Cabernet Sauvignon that Paolo pulled out the Lageder cellar for us.
Read more about Due Spaghetti’s trip to Italy in our previous posts: Date Night in Rome, and Il Cinquino di Zio Marco and Ciao, Roma!, and check out our Due Spaghetti Facebook page for more trip photos.